How to Join the Professional Ethics Committee

Are You interested in joining the Committee on Professional Ethics? Here’s what you need to know:

Membership Obligations

Members serve on the Committee for a term of three years.  You must be a current member of the New York City Bar Association to serve on the Committee.  Committee members have three main obligations: (1) attendance at meetings; (2) staffing the ethics hotline; and (3) working on ethics opinions. In addition, Committee members may be asked to participate in other Committee projects, such as planning and speaking at CLE programs, collaborating on joint projects with other Committees, reviewing and commenting on proposed changes to the Rules of Professional Conduct, and more.  The Committee has several non-voting student members who provide research assistance on formal and informal opinions.  The Committee charges annual dues on a sliding scale, depending on whether the member is in private practice, government or public interest law, or a student.  These Committee dues are separate from the City Bar’s membership fees. 

  • Meetings:

The Committee meets each month from September through June and is in recess during July and August. Committee meetings typically last between one and two hours. At the meetings, members discuss and vote on pending business before the Committee, such as drafts of formal or informal opinions, the formation of subcommittees to research new opinions, issues that come up on the hotline, and other Committee projects.

  • The Ethics Hotline:

One of the Committee’s most important obligations is the City Bar’s ethics hotline. Every Committee member must participate in staffing the hotline through the year. Generally, members serve on hotline duty three weeks per year – once in the fall/winter, once in the winter/spring, and once in the spring/summer (even though the Committee does not meet during that time). Two members are assigned to hotline duty during any given week. While on hotline duty members are asked to be generally available (i.e. not on trial or otherwise unreachable) to return calls within 24 hours.  The Committee provides all members with substantive resources for staffing the hotline.

  • Drafting Formal or Informal Opinions:

Another important role of the Committee is to issue Formal and Informal Ethics Opinions providing general guidance to New York lawyers concerning their obligations under the New York Rules of Professional Conduct.  Formal Opinions are published on the New York City Bar Association’s website here. Informal opinions are issued in response to specific inquiries made by New York lawyers, and are sent directly to the inquiring lawyer. You can find out how to request an informal opinion here.

If you are interested in applying to join the Committee please submit your application here.