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Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility Research: New York

Guide to sources on how to conduct legal research in legal ethics and professional responsibility, including New York materials.

The New York Lawyer's Code of Professional Responsibility (1970) was based on the ABA Model Code of Professional Responsibility (1969).  The 1970 Code (which was amended over the years) contained nine Canons, each of which had Ethical Considerations (EC) which were aspirational, and Disciplinary Rules (DR) which were mandatory.  

In 2009 the New York Rules of Professional Conduct were adopted, replacing the old Code with a set of rules based on the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct. The New York Rules of Professional Conduct begin with a Preamble, and Scope, and each Rule consists of a Black Letter Rule, followed by a Comment that explains the background of the Rule and provides guidance on interpreting the Rule. The Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court Courts has adopted and published the text of the Black Letter Rule only, as Part 1200 of the Joint Rules of the Appellate Division 22 NYCRR Part 1200. Where a conflict exists between the Rule and the Preamble, Scope or a Comment, the Rule controls. 

In addition to consulting the New York Rules of Professional Conduct and the Court Rules, make sure to review any relevant statutes including the New York Judiciary Law and the CPLR.


The New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) website contains links to attorney resources including the following: 

Other bar associations in New York State

Full text of ethics opinions from the New York State Bar Committee on Professional Ethics and local bar associations are collected in print and online. These opinions are advisory and are issued only to attorneys concerning their own proposed conduct, not past conduct or the conduct of another attorney. 

Several editors have compiled New York State Ethics opinions over the years. Pace has print holdings of the following compilations: 

Westlaw is a good place to do a  full text search for New York ethics opinions because it includes ethics opinions from several of the groups that issue the opinions. Also note that case annotations in McKinney's Consolidated Statutes on Westlaw includes ethics opinions.