Communications Office:
David Bookstaver, Director
Mai Yee, Assistant Director
(212) 428-2500

Date: March 2, 1999

Seal of the Unified Court System
Lawyer Ethics: The Focus of Newly Appointed Institute on Professionalism in the Law
NEW YORK - Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye and Chief Administrative Judge Jonathan Lippman today announced the appointment of the Judicial Institute on Professionalism in the Law, a permanent commission whose mission will be to nurture professionalism among the members of the bar. Louis A. Craco of Willkie, Farr & Gallagher has been named Chair of the Institute, which will support the organized bar, law schools and other institutions in undertaking effective programs for the promotion of professional behavior, and serve as a permanent forum in which the various constituencies of the profession can convene regularly to study and speak to issues pertaining to ethics and professionalism.

The Institute's major responsibilities include:

  • promoting scholarship and practical attention to emerging ethics and professionalism issues; 
  • sponsoring Statewide public hearings and convocations on the public's experience with lawyers and the justice system;
  • facilitating conversations among disparate views on topics of common interest, including practitioners and law school academics, who often address the same issues from different perspectives;
  • observing and commenting upon ethics-related programs; 
  • monitoring and commenting upon methods for enforcing standards of professional conduct; 
  • recommending legislation and modifications to the Code of Professional Responsibility to improve professionalism and encourage ethical behavior;

  • publishing reports on relevant issues; and
  • maintaining communication with other states on issues of mutual concern.
The Institute will not offer CLE courses, operate ethics hotlines or issue advisory ethics opinions.

Chief Judge Kaye stated, "The legal profession has made enormous contributions to the strength and vitality of our nation and State. But it is no secret that our exploding numbers and increased bottom line pressures have affected the practice of law in ways that have eroded public trust and confidence. In 1993, with the enthusiastic support of the Administrative Board of the Courts, I appointed a blue-ribbon panel of lawyers and judges--the Craco Committee--which studied the causes of public dissatisfaction and recommended a series of major reforms that have successfully elevated the legal profession. I am delighted that Lou Craco has now agreed to continue the important work he began by leading a permanent Institute devoted to studying the many difficult challenges facing the legal profession today and raising the professional aspirations of lawyers in the State."

Chief Administrative Judge Lippman added, "The legal profession in New York has a superb record of service to clients, but as our society and the practice of law grow more complex, it is important that we devote continuing attention to emerging trends that may compromise both our ability to meet the expectations of the public we serve and the best traditions of the legal profession itself. I can conceive of no better vehicle to achieve this goal than the creation of an Institute that focuses on the cultivation of professionalism, builds upon the momentum of the Craco reforms and institutionalizes the shared commitment of the organized bar, the courts and legal educators to reenforcing professionalism and restoring public confidence."

The establishment of an ethics institute was urged in the landmark 1995 Final Report of the Craco Committee, which has generated a series of important reforms ranging from Mandatory Continuing Legal Education to Standards of Civility to stronger sanctions rules. In 1996, a Subcommittee of the Task Force appointed to implement the Craco Committee's recommendations was asked to determine whether a permanent ethics commission was desirable and, if so, suggest its function, structure, governance and funding sources. The Subcommittee issued a report in 1998 concluding that "New York will benefit substantially from the establishment of a permanent institute for the advancement of professionalism among the members of the bar."
The Institute will be modeled on existing judicial advisory committees that speak to issues concerning minorities and women and children. The members of the Institute were appointed by Chief Judge Kaye and the Presiding Justices of the Appellate Division from the ranks of the organized bar, the judiciary, law schools and the general public.

  • Christopher E. Chang, Esq., New York
  • Hon. Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick, Associate Judge, New York State Court of Appeals, New York
  • George J. Farrell, Jr., Esq., Farrell Fritz, P.C., Uniondale
  • Robert B. Fiske, Jr., Esq., Davis Polk & Wardwell, New York
  • Lewis Golub, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Golub Corporation, Schenectady
  • John H. Gross, Esq., Ingerman Smith, LLP, Northport
  • Hon. L. Priscilla Hall, Justice of the Supreme Court, Brooklyn
  • Conrad K. Harper, Esq., Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, New York
  • Stephen R. Kaye, Esq., Proskauer Rose LLP, New York
  • Arthur J. Kremer, Esq., Rivkin, Radler & Kremer, Nassau County
  • David W. Leebron, Esq., Dean & Professor of Law, Columbia University School of Law, New York
  • Joseph V. McCarthy, Esq., Roach, Brown, McCarthy & Gruber, P.C., Buffalo
  • Hon. Eugene F. Pigott, Jr., Associate Justice, Appellate Division, Fourth Department, Buffalo
  • M. Catherine Richardson, Esq., Bond, Schoeneck & King, LLP, Syracuse
  • Hon. Leslie E. Stein,Judge of Albany City Court, Albany
  • Marc Waldauer, Esq., Syracuse

  • G. Robert Witmer, Jr., Esq., Nixon, Hargrave, Devans & Doyle, LLP, Rochester
Web page updated: August 16, 2006