Litigating Attorney-Misconduct Claims Under New York's Judiciary Law § 487

(902 Ratings)

Produced on: November 07, 2017

Course Format On Demand Audio

Taught by


Course Description

Time 51 minutes
Difficulty Intermediate

As the New York Court of Appeals held in 2009, New York’s attorney-misconduct statute, Judiciary Law § 487, is “a unique statute of ancient origin in the criminal law of England.” Section 487 is the latest version of a prohibition on attorney misconduct that traces back to the 13th century.

The longevity of the statute speaks to the seriousness of the concerns that it addresses. In feudal times as now, lawyers have always been agents of their clients. Lawyers have special knowledge of the applicable law, of a particular case’s facts, and of the people who administer justice. Lawyers are supposed to use their agency authority and their special knowledge to zealously advocate for their clients in an arena—the court system—that is complex and often byzantine, with substantive rules, procedural quirks, and jargon that clients may not know and may not be able to learn.

What happens, then, if an attorney perpetrates a deceit on the client, on other parties to a litigation, or on the court itself? And how can the client be sure that the lawyer is not delaying the resolution of the client’s claim for the lawyer’s personal gain?

Section 487 addresses those concerns. In this program, attorney Jeremy Bates will provide an overview of the law. The program will include a discussion of the statute’s history, its purpose and intent, the elements of a Section 487 claim, potential defenses, and recovery of damages under the statute. The program will also discuss various cases that have interpreted Judiciary Law § 487.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Explore the ways in which the long history of New York’s attorney-misconduct statute has influenced how courts regard the cause of action today
  2. Identify the elements of a claim under Judiciary Law § 487, and learn how the New York courts have recently developed the statute in such cases as Amalfitano, Melcher, and Facebook. With these cases as background, begin to recognize situations where a § 487 claim might be possible, and appreciate the possible defenses
  3. Discuss what § 487 is not, and what it does not do. Distinguish attorney misconduct under § 487 from other types of lawyerly misbehavior. Develop a conception of § 487  as one of several different tools that courts and litigants use to regulate how attorneys act
  4. Appreciate the current uncertainties about § 487—the issues where courts are disagreeing now over what § 487 will mean for the future


Jeremy Bates

Matalon Shweky Elman

Jeremy Bates is Counsel at Matalon Shweky Elman PLLC, where he acts as a lawyers’ lawyer. At MSE he has defended lawyers and law firms against Judiciary Law § 487 claims—most recently against a $36-million claim that the trial court dismissed.

Jeremy has also represented law firms and attorneys in other professional-responsibility matters:

  • Jeremy secured the dismissal of malpractice claims against a national law firm, in a decision that was a New York Law Journal “Decision of Note” because it clarified lawyers’ duties in M&A transactions;
  • Jeremy helped win a trial-level dismissal of defamation claims against an AmLaw 100 partner that arose out of a failed real-estate transaction;
  • Jeremy was hailed as a Law360 “Legal Lion” for helping convince the Commercial Division, New York County, to dismiss all five claims in a $10 million action against a prominent New York commercial firm;
  • Jeremy acted as special ethics counsel in a case in which an opposing lawyer broke nearly every New York rule governing deposition conduct;
  • Jeremy successfully represented a lawyer in a disciplinary proceeding; and
  • Jeremy has also represented lawyers and firms in alternative resolutions and pre-litigation dispositions of various disputes.

Jeremy currently serves as a member of the Committee on Professional Ethics of the New York City Bar Association.

Aside from representing lawyers and law firms, at MSE Jeremy represents plaintiffs and defendants in a wide array of litigation matters. In a federal case that was another NYLJ “Decision of Note,” the court denied dismissal of his client’s electronic-discovery counterclaims. He has secured the dismissal of federal RICO, trademark, and computer-fraud claims. He was lead counsel in a pro bono case that successfully challenged a federal drug-reimbursement regulation, and produced substantial recovery for two Medicare beneficiaries. He also second-chaired a FINRA arbitration that resulted in a complete vindication for MSE’s clients.

Jeremy joined MSE in 2009 after spending six years at the New York office of Sullivan & Cromwell. There he represented major financial institutions. He drafted winning briefs to appellate courts, argued before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, earned trial-level dismissals of complaints in several states against a private equity fund, and shepherded financial institutions thorough investigations by the SEC, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the New York Attorney General’s Office.

Jeremy has a special interest in voting rights. He successfully sued the District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics for miscounting votes in a city election. In 2008 he volunteered as a voter-protection attorney for the Obama campaign in North Dakota and Michigan. Jeremy also brought an action against his church for denying its members’ right to vote against board nominees and for failing to give its members its financial statements. The church’s resulting financial disclosure was reported on the front page of The New York Times.

Jeremy graduated cum laude from Harvard College and with honors from the University of Chicago Law School, where he was Editor in Chief of the University of Chicago Legal Forum and edited a volume on antitrust law. Before law school, Jeremy served for five years as a legislative assistant to U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan. After law school, Jeremy clerked for U.S. Circuit Judge Jacques L. Weiner, Jr., of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.


David T.

Very clear and concise.

Bernard Alan S.

Good job

Michael D.

The 700 year old statutory basis, translation, and photo of the original text was quite interesting.

Daniel H.

The statute in question I never knew existed but is very relevantlto my practice as a trial lawyer. I need to do further research on it

Robert D. S.

very enlightening

Christopher R.

Excellent speaker. Very knowledgeable and also engaging and witty.

David t.

very knowledgeable presenter.

Carl L.

Bates was excellent

Simon Z.

Excellent in all respects.

Michael F.

Instructor was much better then I expected. He was exceptional.

Michael B.


Angela R.

interesting thinking course

Christine D.

Speaker was very articulate, knowledgeable and engaging

Lawrence C.

Fantastic course, great speaker, very well organized and presented!

Janice T.

Thorough discussion.

Judith M.

Excellent presenter? Made material easy to understand.

Charis O.

I learned surprising things, like the fact that receipt by an attorney is punishable criminally.

Charles S.

great legal history for explication

Edgar G.

this was one of the best CLE courses i ever took

Douglas T.

excellent 4's are not high enough one of the best I've ever heard on Lawline

Paul N.

Very good course.

Lori R.

Bates did a very good job

Susan M. B.

Important topic for all attorneys. Well presented , informative and organized.

Stephen C.


Charles K.


Annette P.

Not sure practitioners really care about the historical background of the statute, but the session was definitely educational!

Howard E.

Excellent lecture. Informative and compelling. Bravo to Mr. Bates on his excellent job.

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