Know Your Rights

New York is one of the six states in the nation that do not allow the public to know if an attorney has been disciplined for dishonesty, or mishandling client money, or for any other serious ethics violations, until after a public disciplinary sanction has been formally issued against an attorney. The proceeding remains shrouded in complete secrecy until the disciplinary process is finished, which usually takes between several months and years. As a result, a legal consumer is highly vulnerable to unknowingly hiring an attorney who has committed ethical misconduct because the disciplinary proceedings against the attorney have yet to make their way to completion, or who previously has received an informal sanction that is kept secret from the public. Despite policy makers’ political awareness that consumers are not being adequately protected, there is not the political will in the judiciary or state legislature to make necessary reforms and unveil the secrecy of New York attorney disciplinary system. That’s why the consumer needs to beware when dealing with attorneys in New York.

The following groups are particularly vulnerable to predatory attorney practices:

  • disabled veterans
  • the elderly
  • divorce clients
  • immigrants
  • individuals or businesses caught in protracted litigation disputes where stakes are high