Major changes have come to attorney discipline in New York. New statewide rules governing attorney discipline procedures were implemented on Oct. 1, 2016. The new uniform rules are set forth in 22 NYCRR Part 1240. In previous columns, published prior to the effective date of the new rules, I addressed two main areas: (1) formal proceedings, described in the uniform rules as “Proceedings in the Appellate Division;” and, (2) informal proceedings, which the new rules refer to as “Proceedings Before Committees.” Now that the uniform rules have been implemented, in this column I will address some highlights of “related proceedings” under the new regime, i.e., diversion, interim suspension, criminal convictions, collateral estoppel, and reinstatements.

Diversion

A significant achievement of the new uniform rules is the standardization of a statewide rule providing for diversion to a monitoring program. Under the former departmental rules, the Second, Third, and Fourth Departments had adopted special provisions allowing attorneys with substance abuse problems to continue practicing law under certain conditions. Notably, however, the First Department had no “diversion” or “monitoring” program. Rather, that court routinely suspended lawyers who were found incapacitated because of substance abuse, until they could demonstrate the absence of addiction and readiness to resume practice.

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