Legal ethics

New York States of Mind

Let’s end 2023 on a high note, shall we? Governor Hochul must be high. She just vetoed a bill that would have finally ended New York’s requirement that New York lawyers have to have an office in New York.

Yes, you heard that right. Despite all of the talk in the legal profession of the need to re-regulate the profession to recognize the reality of remote practice, New York still labors under a law enacted in 1909 that makes it unlawful for someone who has a New York law license to practice law without a physical office located in New York state. This massive step backwards cannot be laid at the feet of the state bar though as the NYSBA pushed for the legislation that was enacted. As this news article explains, the sole blame for this falls at the feet of the Governor of New York. I know nothing about New York politics, of course, but here’s hoping there is some mechanism that will allow the legislature there to possibly overturn the veto.

While we are on the subject of events in New York, yours truly got a little bit of grief offline for seeming to be so out-of-touch with regard to my last post as merely days (or possibly hours later) the news broke that there appeared to be another case in New York where a lawyer filed briefs containing what seemed to be “hallucinated” case law.

My immediate reaction to that news was to be perplexed because it really is not very easy now — at least when using Chat GPT — to accomplish such a result through accident. I did come to realize, of course, that there are many other generative AI providers out there and not all of them may have put in as robust a set of guardrails, but I have been eagerly waiting for any other shoes to drop in that case.

The thud came today.

Michael Cohen’s lawyer has now fully responded by throwing Cohen under the bus. Cohen apparently provided the case law to the lawyer, and the lawyer didn’t check it because the lawyer thought it was actually case law that had been found by Cohen’s other lawyers. Not the best look for the current lawyer in the crosshairs in terms of sloppiness and failing to do basic due diligence, but the timeline of events feels like vindication as far as my position goes. If you look through the attachments, you will see that it was in May 2023 when Cohen appears to have “found” the cases to support his claims despite such cases not existing. That is roughly about the same time as the events in the Avianca proceedings and, thus, likely dates back to a time before the new guardrails were in place.

And, for those of you loyal readers you have still stuck with me this year despite my infrequent posting schedule, I wish you all nothing but success throughout 2024. See you on the other side.