While legal malpractice deals with negligence or good-faith mistakes, Judiciary Law §487 deals with attorney deceit. An attempt to deceive the court or parties opens the attorney to a misdemeanor as well as treble damages under §487. In the past, it appeared that the Supreme Court and Appellate Division viewed Judiciary Law §487 cases with disfavor, and as the least important of any causes of action arising from the attorney-client relationship. But there have been some important developments in the past year, which now reveal the law is mainstream and no longer a fluke.

The Appellate Division, First Department, recently revisited an important Judiciary Law §487 case which the Court of Appeals already reviewed once. Melcher v. Greenberg Traurig, 23 NY3d 10 (2014) (Melcher I) already determined that JL §487 is the common law, and not merely a statute, given its ancient roots in Anglo-American jurisprudence. The court, therefore, set an entirely new statute of limitations.

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