New York lawyers may use undercover investigators to ferret out civil rights violations and the sale of counterfeit goods without violating the Code of Professional Responsibility, according to a recent ethics opinion by the New York County Lawyers’ Association last week.

Under the opinion, a lawyer might use several undercover investigators of different races to pose as prospective tenants to gather proof that a landlord is discriminating. Similarly, a lawyer might send out an investigator to buy a bag with the “Gucci” mark from a street vendor. The bag could then be tested to determine its authenticity.

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