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The Mispractice of Law: How Bad Behavior Is Handled in New York State

(115 Ratings)

Produced on: February 25, 2018

Course Format On Demand Audio

Taught by


Course Description

Time 75 minutes
Difficulty Beginner

The practice of law is restricted and controlled by the state. As an activity, it is reserved to those who have met certain baseline requirements that the state has established, but the matter does not end there. After obtaining the license, a lawyer remains bound by the ethical code of conduct in their state, and, furthermore, remains subject to investigation and discipline for violations of the rules.

This course, taught by Joseph Hester, formerly senior counsel for the Departmental Disciplinary Committee in New York State’s First Judicial Department, and Donald Zolin, a long serving referee in that Committee’s disciplinary proceedings, will raise awareness of the body of rules an attorney must live by and some of the unpleasant consequences that violations may bring, as well as provide concrete and practical suggestions of how to avoid such negative outcomes.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Emphasize that the practice of law is a licensed profession, exercised within certain parameters and entailing definite obligations
  2. Review the code of conduct governing the practice of law
  3. Highlight selected provisions of the code that call for special attention
  4. Explain what happens when a disciplinary investigation or proceeding is initiated and what it may be advisable for the lawyer to do or to avoid

This course originally appeared as a part of our February 2018 Bridge the Gap Event.  


Donald M. Zolin

Law Practice of Donald M. Zolin

Donald M. Zolin has been an attorney in private practice in New York City since 1977, having earned the degree of juris doctor from the State University of New York at Buffalo and the degree of master of laws in taxation from Georgetown University Law Center. Besides being admitted to the bar of New York, he is admitted to the bar of California, to the bars of two United States District Courts, that for the Southern District of New York and that for the Eastern District, and to the bar of the United States Supreme Court. Mr. Zolin serves as a Special Master for the Supreme Court of the State of New York in New York County and as a referee in disciplinary proceedings conducted at the Departmental Disciplinary Committee of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of the State of New York in the First Judicial Department. He has served as an officer and as a director of the New York County Lawyers Association and is the treasurer of the New York County Lawyers Association-McInerney Chapter of the American Inns of Court. He also serves as the chair of the Special Masters Committee of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association and belongs to the American Association for Justice, Academy of the Trial Lawyers of the State of New York. Mr. Zolin was also the chair of the Committee on Federal Courts of the New York County Lawyers Association and co-author of its Report on Magistrates, published at 136 FRD 193 (1991).

Joseph Hester is an attorney in private practice in New York City, having retired from state service in 2010. For the previous ten years he was on the staff of the Chief Counsel of the Departmental Disciplinary Committee of the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court in the First Judicial Department, where he investigated and prosecuted matters involving violations of the rules governing attorney conduct. Prior to that he served as a Special Assistant Attorney General and an Assistant Attorney General, investigating and prosecuting white collar crimes, including police corruption, violation of tax law, the unlawful practice of law, and violation of drug laws by medical professionals. Previously, he had been an Assistant District Attorney in New York City and, immediately upon graduation from New York University Law School in 1977, he had served as appellate counsel in the Criminal Appeals Bureau of the New York City Legal Aid Society.


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