The New York County Lawyers’ Association's Professional Ethics Committee has issued Ethics Opinion 744, the first ethics opinion in New York State to interpret a new amendment to Rule 6.4 of the Rules of Professional Conduct, which addresses a lawyer's involvement in law reform activities.
The prior rule had required a lawyer to disclose to a client a lawyer's engagement in law reform activities that might adversely affect a client's interests. Because that rule had a chilling effect on (beneficial) pro bono law reform activities, it was modified. The new rule permits lawyers to engage in law reform activities provided that there is no conflict of interest within the meaning of RPC 1.7. In addition, the new rule requires a lawyer to disclose to the law reform organization (such as NYCLA) advocacy that may benefit a client.
Founded in 1908, NYCLA was the first bar association in the United States to establish a Committee on Professional Ethics that issued “formal written opinions.” The first NYCLA opinion was issued in January 1912 and concerned lawyer advertising.