July 1, 2010
This responds to your inquiry (09-200) asking whether, in promoting pro bono activities, there is any ethical impropriety if the court system’s Access to Justice Program, in partnership with a well-known Bar Association, presents a CLE program consisting of a panel, including the participation of judges, on ethical issues confronting pro bono attorneys. While the program will be held in a space at a private law firm, which would also provide light refreshments, it would be open to the public and would be widely advertised to lawyers generally, through the efforts of the court system and the bar association.
This Committee has previously ruled that a judge may participate as a speaker or panelist in legal education programs co-sponsored by bar associations, law firms, and other entities, subject to certain limitations. The facts you disclose in your inquiry warrant the same result. Enclosed, for your convenience, are Opinions
05-12; 04-15 and 00-120, which address this issue.
Very truly yours,
George D. Marlow
Appellate Division, First Dept (Ret.)