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New York Ethics Lawyer

Ethics Opinions for New York Lawyers and Law Firms

New York City address – by appointment only:
30 Wall Street, 8th Floor
New York, NY 10005
212-970-9468

In today’s world, questions of ethics are increasingly falling into the gray zone between black and white. While new technologies, novel issues, and untested legal theories present unique opportunities and challenges for lawyers and law firms, they also present unique risks. If lawyers and law firms aren’t careful, they can find themselves facing disciplinary action, civil litigation, and loss of their hard-earned reputations and goodwill.

Maintaining an ethically compliant practice serves both the lawyer and the client. Clients deserve (and expect) to receive competent, professional, and unbiased legal representation; and, by providing this representation, lawyers can build their experience and their book of business. When lawyers make flawed assumptions and poor decisions, they put everyone’s interests in jeopardy, and ethical shortcomings can prove costly for all parties involved.

Put our highly experienced team on your side

Dr. Nick Oberheiden
Dr. Nick Oberheiden

Founder

Attorney-at-Law

Lynette S. Byrd
Lynette S. Byrd

Former DOJ Trial Attorney

Partner

Brian J. Kuester
Brian J. Kuester

Former U.S. Attorney

Amanda Marshall
Amanda Marshall

Former U.S. Attorney

Local Counsel

Joe Brown
Joe Brown

Former U.S. Attorney

Local Counsel

John W. Sellers
John W. Sellers

Former Senior DOJ Trial Attorney

Linda Julin McNamara
Linda Julin McNamara

Federal Appeals Attorney

Aaron L. Wiley
Aaron L. Wiley

Former DOJ attorney

Local Counsel

Roger Bach
Roger Bach

Former Special Agent (DOJ)

Chris Quick
Chris J. Quick

Former Special Agent (FBI & IRS-CI)

Michael S. Koslow
Michael S. Koslow

Former Supervisory Special Agent (DOD-OIG)

Ray Yuen
Ray Yuen

Former Supervisory Special Agent (FBI)

About Our New York Ethics Lawyers

Each New York ethics lawyer at Oberheiden P.C. has senior-level experience. Many of our lawyers have investigated and tried cases at the highest levels—including as U.S. Attorneys, Assistant U.S. Attorneys, and trial lawyers with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). Collectively, our lawyers have represented clients in thousands of high-stakes legal matters, many of which have involved novel and challenging ethical issues.

With a practice that spans multiple state and federal jurisdictions, and with a client list that includes licensed professionals, corporate entities, governmental entities, and politicians and other high-profile individuals, we are well-versed in all aspects of complex legal practice. Our devotion to understanding and applying the ethical rules that apply in challenging situations has played a large part in allowing us to grow into the firm that we are today. We rely on the insights gained from our experience to help our peers make informed decisions, and we are passionate about aiding in the advancement of ethical legal practice as the challenges facing lawyers and law firms continue to grow and evolve.

We Provide Ethics Opinions for All Legal Matters in New York

We provide ethics opinions for all legal matters in New York. We work with individual lawyers and law firms of all sizes, from solo practices to the largest firms in the world. As with all other aspects of our practice, when providing ethics opinions, we work closely with our clients to understand their specific concerns, risks, and needs, and then we do what is necessary to provide sound advice in as cost-effective a manner as possible.

Ethical issues can arise in all aspects of legal practice. Some examples of the types of scenarios in which we provide ethics opinions for lawyers and law firms in New York include:

  • Potential conflicts of interest between co-defendants
  • Potential conflicts of interest between clients with separate matters
  • Fee disputes with clients
  • Discovery, record retention, and other litigation-related matters
  • Fee-sharing other financial matters
  • Law firm mergers and acquisitions
  • Limitations on the scope of a client’s representation
  • Dealing with an associate’s or partner’s misconduct
  • Social media, video, and other forms of advertising compliance
  • Multi-jurisdictional and cross-border legal practice

Again, these are just examples. If you have questions about what you or your firm can (and should) be doing in any particular set of circumstances, seeking ethical guidance is the right choice. Making uninformed decisions is unnecessarily risky; and, in many cases, it proves incredibly costly.

Engaging Ethics Counsel vs. Seeking a Formal or Informal Bar Ethics Opinion

The New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) issues Ethics Opinions, and many local bar associations—like the New York City Bar—issue formal and informal ethics opinions as well. So, when should you engage ethics counsel as opposed to seeking a formal or informal bar ethics opinion?

When seeking guidance on ethical issues, looking to existing ethical opinions is generally a good first step. If there is a recent bar ethics opinion that is directly on point, then this may provide the level of comfort you need to move forward.

With regard to seeking an ethics opinion from a bar association, there are a few considerations to keep in mind. First, the circumstances in which bar associations will provide opinions are generally limited. For example, the New York City Bar makes clear that it “does not answer questions about past conduct or the conduct of other lawyers,” nor does it “provide legal advice or answer questions of law.” Second, bar associations typically do not provide opinions in response to requests involving hypothetical scenarios, nor do they typically accept anonymous requests. Finally, timing can be a factor as well. The New York City Bar, for example, states that it “cannot provide a concrete deadline for issuing an Informal Opinion,” and advises that, “[i]f your matter is urgent, you may wish to retain ethics counsel.”

When you contact us, we will help you make an informed decision about whether it is necessary to retain our services for an ethics opinion. If we believe that you will be able to obtain a satisfactory response from the NYSBA or a local bar association, we will let you know. If your (or your firm’s) situation is particularly complex, high-risk, or time-sensitive, we can get to work immediately and provide an ethics opinion as soon as possible.

Benefits of Obtaining an Ethics Opinion from Outside Counsel

Beyond simply serving as a source of information when a bar ethics opinion isn’t an option, obtaining an ethics opinion from outside counsel can serve a variety of purposes for both law firms and individual lawyers. Some examples of the benefits of obtaining an ethics opinion include:

  • Avoiding Professional Disciplinary Action from the NYSBA – Ethical miscues can lead to disciplinary action by the NYSBA. Depending on the severity of the allegations at issue, disciplinary actions can have consequences ranging from reprimands to disbarment.
  • Avoiding Litigation with Clients and Other Parties – Avoiding ethical miscues can also save lawyers and law firms from litigation with clients and other parties. In high-stakes legal matters, the potential exposure in litigation can far outweigh the relatively modest costs of proactively seeking an ethics opinion.
  • Access to the Advice-of-Counsel Defense – In the event of litigation, obtaining an ethics opinion from outside counsel can open up access to the advice-of-counsel defense. Faced with allegations of malpractice or fraud, being able to show reliance on the advice of counsel can demonstrate both good faith and reasonable prudence in light of the prevailing standards in the legal profession.

Here, too, these are just examples. If you have questions about whether an ethics opinion is necessary, we invite you to get in touch. We are more than happy to answer your questions and help you make an informed decision about how best to move forward.

FAQs: New York Ethics Opinions for Lawyers and Law Firms

When should you consider seeking an ethics opinion?

You should consider seeking an ethics opinion if you have concerns about the potential ethical implications of a proposed engagement, transaction, or litigation-related matter and you cannot find a satisfactory answer to your concerns in the publicly available (and up-to-date) opinions issued by the NYSBA and another relevant bar association. Generally, while there may be remedies available, ethical violations cannot be undone—and they can expose lawyers and law firms to both disciplinary action and litigation.

When can lawyers and law firms rely on bar association ethics opinions?

Lawyers and law firms must be careful about relying on the ethics opinions issued by the NYSBA and other bar associations. While these opinions will provide clear guidance in some circumstances, they are often heavily fact-specific, and even minor changes in the relevant facts can potentially warrant a different decision.

How long does it take to receive an ethics opinion?

When we are engaged to provide an ethics opinion, we work with our client lawyer or law firm to establish an appropriate deadline in light of the circumstances presented. We will provide our written opinion on or before this deadline.

What are the risks of not obtaining an ethics opinion?

The risks of not obtaining an ethics opinion can be significant. Ethical violations present risks for both disciplinary action and litigation, and they can put lawyers’ licenses, reputations, and careers in jeopardy. They can tarnish law firms’ reputations as well, and they can jeopardize lawyers’ and firms’ relationships with both new and longstanding clients.

How do I choose a law firm to provide an ethics opinion?

Relevant experience is a key consideration when choosing a law firm to provide an ethics opinion. At Oberheiden P.C., we have extensive experience in a broad range of high-stakes legal matters, and our lawyers have evaluated the ethical implications of various courses of action in a wide range of scenarios. If you need an ethics opinion in New York, we invite you to contact us to learn more about our experience and decide if our firm is the right choice to meet your needs.


Speak with a New York Ethics Lawyer at Oberheiden P.C.

To speak with a New York ethics lawyer at Oberheiden P.C., please call 888-680-1745 or contact us online. We will arrange for you to speak with one of our senior lawyers in confidence as soon as possible.

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