New York lawyers faced with ethical questions regarding their own prospective conduct can reach the Ethics Hotline by contacting Victor Hershdorfer, Esq. at 315-472-4481 or Paula Mallory Engel, Esq. 315-727-7901.
The Ethics Hotline is operated and staffed by members of the Onondaga County Bar Association’s Committee on Professional Ethics (the “Committee”). These volunteers respond to inquiries made by lawyers admitted in New York who face ethical questions regarding their own prospective conduct. The purpose of the Hotline is to provide informal guidance to callers in accordance with the New York Rules of Professional Conduct (the “New York Rules”). Any information provided in response to a Hotline inquiry is merely the opinion of the Committee member answering the call. It is not the opinion of the Committee as a whole. The information provided in response to a Hotline inquiry does not constitute legal advice. If the matter involves complex issues, or implicates a substantive area of law, you may wish to retain professional ethics counsel.
Callers should be aware of the following guidelines before calling the Ethics Hotline:
- The Hotline only provides guidance to lawyers admitted to practice in New York about the New York Rules.
- The Hotline only provides guidance concerning the caller’s own prospective conduct. We do not answer questions about past conduct or the conduct of other lawyers.
- The Hotline does not provide legal advice or answer questions of law.
- The Hotline does not provide answers to hypothetical questions nor inquiries which have also been submitted to another bar association’s ethics committee.
- The Hotline does not answer questions about the unlicensed practice of law (UPL). UPL is governed by statutory law, not the New York Rules and is, therefore, outside the Committee’s jurisdiction.
- The Hotline provides general guidance. Due to the limited information we can obtain during a brief and informal telephone conversation, we cannot provide a definitive answer to Hotline questions.
- The Hotline does not answer questions where the issue itself is the matter of a pending legal proceeding or is before a grievance committee.
- Although it is the Committee’s policy to maintain confidentiality of all Hotline inquiries, callers should be aware that the information is not protected by the attorney-client privilege or RPC 1.6.
- The Ethics Hotline does not respond to complaints or inquiries regarding unethical conduct of other lawyers. Any such complaints or inquiries should be addressed to the Grievance or Disciplinary Committee for the county in which the lawyer practices (see http://www.nycourts.gov/attorneys/grievance/).
- Lawyers who call the Ethics Hotline are required to provide their full name and telephone numbers.
If, after speaking with someone on the Hotline, a New York lawyer wishes to obtain a written Informal Opinion from the Committee, he or she may submit a written request. Please review the guidelines for requesting an Informal Opinion here (See guidelines). As with Hotline questions, the Committee’s Informal Opinions are limited to interpreting the New York Rules. Please be aware that the Committee cannot provide a concrete timeline for responding to written requests. If your matter is urgent, you may wish to retain professional ethics counsel.