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Stay away from New York Divorce Specialists

30 January 2009

This is one of my pet peeves. Spend five minutes on google, and you’ll find any number of New York lawyers who claim to “specialize” in any given area of law, including divorces and family law.

The problem is, doing so is an ethical violation of Part 1200 – Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 7.4 provides that:

[a] lawyer or law firm shall not state that the lawyer or law firm is a specialist or specializes in a particular field of law …

Lawyers can use the term “concentrate” to describe which area of law they dedicate the bulk of their practice to. Lawyer can state which areas their practice is limited to.

But an attorney cannot use the word “specialize.”

A New York lawyer who does hold themselves out to be a family law or divorce specialist either doesn’t care or doesn’t know about the ethical rule’s prohibition on this term. And if they don’t know that basic bit of information, odds are they won’t know other critical aspects of divorce law. Once I even met a self proclaimed divorce specialist who kept talking about how New York divides community property. (Hint #1 – We don’t. New York is an equitable distribution state. Hint #2 – See Hint #1).

Choosing a divorce lawyer is hard enough to begin with, it’s one of the most important decisions anybody will ever make. Avoiding lawyers who don’t know they are violating ethical rules is an easy way to weed out some of the less than desirable choices when finding a divorce lawyer.


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