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

Production Date: November 07, 2017 Practice Areas: Ethics Estimated Length: 3113 minutes


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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
Edgar G.
New York, NY

this was one of the best CLE courses i ever took

Douglas T.
Darien, CT

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

Paul N.
Manhattan, NY

Very good course.

Lori R.
Brooklyn, NY

Bates did a very good job

Susan M. B.
Massapequa, NY

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

Stephen C.
New York, NY


Charles K.
New York, NY


Annette P.
Linden, NJ

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

Howard E.
New York, NY

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