Ethics and Impaired Lawyers

The Brooklyn Bar Association, established in 1872, hosts programs to promote professional competence among attorneys and increased respect for the legal system. On Thursday, March 21, 6:00-8:00pm, it will hold a Free Ethics Opportunity with the Lawyers Helping Lawyers Committee. The program, called Don’t Shoot the Messenger: A Tattler’s Tale Ethical Considerations and Impaired Lawyers,, which will be held at 123 Remsen Street in Brooklyn Heights and is free to Brooklyn Bar Association and Brooklyn Women’s Bar Association members who pre-register and to Brooklyn Law School Students and Faculty who do not need to pre-register. 

Presenters include the Hon. Sallie Krauss and the Hon. Robin S. Garson, co-chairs of the BBA Lawyers Helping Lawyers Committee; Eileen Travis, MSW – Director, NYCBA Lawyers Assistance Program; Deborah A. Scalise, Esq., former Deputy Chief Counsel, Disciplinary Committee of the Appellate Division 1st Department; Gregory T. Cerchione, Esq., Chair, BBA Grievance Committee and member of Committees on Character & Fitness of the Appellate Division 2nd Department; James J. Keefe, Esq.; and Kathleen Waterman, Esq.

The Course Description reads: Learn to recognize the signs that indicate a law partner or attorney in your office is impaired by alcohol or drug abuse. Our panel of experts will discuss the ethical and practical steps necessary to protect clients and the law firm, including the use of the Model Policy for firms trying to keep a troubled lawyer employed. Find out about confidential resources available to help save the impaired attorney’s life, what it takes to defend against disciplinary charges associated with the impaired behavior, including an overview of the applicable Rules of Professional Conduct and the Appellate Divisions’ Diversion Rules, and what might put your own license at risk.

The road to impairment can begin long before a lawyer gets a license. The alarming rate of alcohol and drug abuse by law students attempting to mask anxiety or depression prompts us to include a discussion of the hurdles that Bar applicants must negotiate when they have exhibited behavior that calls into question their fitness to practice law.