In New York, the primary standard for measuring attorney misconduct is the Rules of Professional Conduct which have been formally adopted by each of the four New York Appellate Divisions as court rules (22 NYCRR part 1200 et seq.). These Rules are binding upon all licensed attorneys who practice in New York.
While many states require a standard of representation of clients by their attorneys, some states codify these standards into law. 22 NYCRR 1210.1 requires every attorney with a New York office to post a Statement of Client’s Rights in a manner visible to clients. And, while many states provide a basic, laundry list of rights (and responsibilities) a client can expect, New York, ever the progressive state, will periodically revise this list to provide greater protections to a greater number of people. The most recent revision occurred in June 2018. This revision added the terms “gender identity” and “gender expression” to the list of those classes of people who may not be refused representation. That list also includes race, creed, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, age, national origin and disability.
The Statement of Client’s Rights basically sets forth the basic level of service to which any client should be entitled. Subjective terms such as “courtesy and consideration”, “competently and diligently” and “loyalty” are interspersed with more objective (if still somewhat subjective) terms such as “reasonable fees and expenses”, “prompt reply” and “reasonably informed”. Equally as important to most clients is a “right to privacy” in the client’s communications and preservation of all “confidential information”.
We can be certain that the book has not closed on this list. As it has in the past, New York will most surely revise this Statement many more times as the need (and the times) requires.