Ethics and Professional Responsibility
Please note: The NJSBA makes no representations or recommendations in connection with any of the information listed and is providing the information as a resource guide only. The information is general in nature, may not be applicable to all situations, and should not be construed as legal advice.
Ethics and professional responsibility are key underpinnings of the legal profession.
Being a lawyer means being held to a higher standard. Members of the public must have faith that lawyers will handle their matter with the highest level of skill and with highest level of attention to ethical guidelines.
As the New Jersey Commission on Professionalism in the Law puts it: “Adherence to standards of professional responsibility, along with a broad respect for the law, is a hallmark of an enlightened and effective system of justice. The conduct of lawyers and judges should be characterized at all times by professional integrity, personal courtesy and absence of bias in the fullest sense of those terms.”
The NJSBA knows how important these ideals are and also knows that sometimes it is necessary to get some help with practice-related issues, such as trust accounting and other topics that aren’t necessarily taught in law school.
The New Jersey State Bar Association has a vast array of information and resources to help attorneys meet their professional obligations.
NJSBA members have access to a library of practice guidance in our PracticeHQ portal. There, members can review whitepapers, comparison charts, and book consultations, including information on trust accounting. Some of the resources include a checklist on bank reconciliations and whitepapers on basic accounting information that lawyers need to know and client trust funds. Members must login to njsba.com to access the full PracticeHQ library.
Among the resources are:
“Basic Accounting Information You Need to Know.” Read it here.
“Why You Need an Accounting Program.” Read it here.
An array of information about time, billing and accounting, such as trust account reconciliation summaries, year-end checklists, law firm financial reporting information and more. See it all here.
Here is a video about the importance of professional malpractice information.
Solo and Small-Firm Attorneys and New Lawyers
Get all the details here from our Solo and Small-Firm Resource Guide about what solo and small-firm attorneys need to know.
New Attorney Information
Becoming a new attorney in New Jersey can be overwhelming. We’ve put together some basic information on what you need to know. Find it all here.
How to be Prepared for a Medical Crisis or Disaster
The Oregon State Bar Professional Liability Fund created a handbook to assist lawyers in the process of creating a succession plan; the book, entitled Planning Ahead: A Guide to Protecting Your Clients’ Interests in the Event of Your Disability or Death. Download it here.
New Jersey Lawyer
The award-winning publication of the NJSBA includes practice tips on ethics.
Here are some of those articles:
Get Insights on the DRB: Here is a primer on the state Disciplinary Review Board. Read on to find out how its decisions affect the type of discipline imposed on lawyers.
Exhibits, eCourts and Ethics: Check out this overview of how to handle eCourts filings and exhibits, as well as the requirements for electronic submissions in civil and criminal matters.
Are There Exceptions for the Attorney-Client Privilege and Legal Malpractice?: New Jersey Lawyer looks at the intersection between legal malpractice and the attorney-client privilege. Find out when the privilege is lost.
Cannabis Law Developments and Ethics Issues: With the legalization of adult-use marijuana, find out what ethics and professional responsibility issues a practicing attorney may face.
New Jersey Lawyer Looks at Conflicts: Conflicts of interest are the source of many grievances and malpractice claims. Always be vigilant in checking for possible conflicts and understanding your ethical obligations. Here is a brief look at two Rules of Professional Conduct, promulgated by the New Jersey Supreme Court, that address conflicts.
Getting Off to a Good Start with Clients: To be well informed of an attorney’s responsibilities and avoid either an ethics grievance or a malpractice lawsuit, they must be well-versed in the Rules of Professional Conduct. Here is a look at the rules regarding scope of representation and fees.
New Jersey Judiciary resources
Ethics research assistance hotline
There is a telephone number to call for attorney ethics research assistance. The hotline is: (609) 815-2924. Attorneys can call about ethics or advertising issues related to their own, prospective conduct. Callers will be asked to leave a message, and the call will be returned.
Office of Attorney Ethics
The Office of Attorney Ethics is here.
It’s “Outline of Record Keeping Requirements Under RPC 1.15 and R.1:21-6” is here.
Rules governing the courts of the state of New Jersey can be found here.
Information about the ethics system is here.
Rules about fee arbitration are here.
Rules about recordkeeping are here.
Additional legal community resources
Mental health and professional well-being assistance
All lawyers, judges, law students, and graduates in the state have access to its services. NJLAP is a free, confidential program that can help attorneys with practice issues, as well as those who are confronting issues like depression, anxiety, or substance abuse that may have long-term implications on the day-to-day operations of their law office. Visit njlap.org.
To help stem the troubling decline in mental health and wellness among New Jersey’s legal practitioners, the New Jersey State Bar Association is proud to roll out new a Member Assistance Program (MAP) that provides access to trained, experienced mental health professionals and resources.
Powered by mental health resource provider Charles Nechtem Associates, the free confidential service offers 24/7 phone, text or mobile access to a mental health professional with at least seven years of experience, who will provide individual counseling and connect members with a wellness library of more than 25,000 self-help resources. The program is now available to all NJSBA members and those in their households.
The program aims to ease the difficult proposition attorneys face in accessing quality mental health care. Many are forced to either wait months for an appointment with a practitioner who accepts the right insurance, or pay out-of-pocket to expedite the process.
Along with the 24/7 phone access, MAP also offers up to three free face-to-face counseling sessions for all members and those in their household per issue they face. Phone, email and virtual counseling sessions and consultations are unlimited. As part of the service, each client receives a comprehensive behavioral risk assessment to diagnose the nature and severity of the issue and a treatment plan. If further counseling or treatment is needed, referrals are made to providers within the client’s insurance network or to providers who will take reduced fees if the client is uninsured.
Contact MAP Counselors Anytime
1-800-531-0200: Phone counseling services are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year with immediate access to clinicians. Access to English and Spanish speaking therapists, with other languages upon request.
Text via the CNA app: Available from the Apple App Store and Google Play.
Connect via the website,Click “Member Login” and log in as a new user. The employer is NJSBA.
Email: Reach out to.
The IOLTA Fund of the Bar of New Jersey has a wealth of information about trust accounting.
USI Affinity is an insurance broker whose services are available to NJSBA members. USI represents ALL insurance companies in New Jersey and has specialized in working with attorneys for over 50 years.
Read on for three helpful tip sheets: