Social Distance Lawyering – How Close is Your Ethical Compliance?

June 12, 2020

By: Devika Kewalramani, John Vincent Baranello, and Eliza Barrocas

New York State Bar Association

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New Yorkers are grappling with the post-COVID-19 return to life from lockdown, whenever that may be. For months now, serious public health and safety concerns have, rightfully so, dominated the conversation: social distancing, face coverings, and contact tracing, to name but a few.  In the wake of the pandemic, the personal and professional lives of New York lawyers have been dramatically dislocated with office closures, work-from-home orders, new court procedures, and executive orders. However, lawyers’ ethical obligations to comply with the New York Rules of Professional Conduct (the “N.Y. Rules”) have not been paused, relaxed or changed. The same ethical duties – essential duties – continue to govern the conduct of lawyers and firms, pre- and post-COVID-19.