Bay Ridge

Bay Ridge Lawyers meet to discuss ethics and discipline

February 12, 2015 By Rob Abruzzese Brooklyn Daily Eagle
President of the Bay Ridge Lawyers Association Lisa Becker, Diana Szochet and Hon. Theresa M. Ciccotto. Eagle photos by Rob Abruzzese
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The Bay Ridge Lawyers Association held its monthly meeting in Bay Ridge on Wednesday night where speaker Diana Szochet discussed the topic that every lawyer dreads hearing about — attorney discipline.

“It’s scary, and one of the things I talk about is the fact that it’s inevitable,” Szochet said. “Pretty much everyone in this room is going to be the subject of a complaint at some point during their careers.”

The presentation was aptly named “Everything You Wanted To Know About Attorney Ethics/Discipline But Were Afraid To Ask.” Szochet began the speech by walking out from behind her podium, declaring, “I am not the 800-pound gorilla in the room.”

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“I think with the ethics, it helps us know what the rules are [so] we don’t end up in a situation where we’re doing something unethical,” said Lisa Becker, president of the BRLA. “We invited Diana here to speak about it because she has an excellent reputation; she’s an excellent speaker. She has a wealth of knowledge in this area and we are so excited to have her here tonight.”

Szochet stressed that nearly all lawyers will get at least one complaint during their career and admitted that even she has gotten one. She emphasized that lawyers must not ignore complaints when they get them.

“It’s the sticking it in the drawer that gets the vast majority of lawyers into way more trouble than they ever were in in the first place,” Szochet said. “If you get a complaint, and you will, be rational. Open it, see what it’s about, and if you can’t deal with it on your own, get somebody to deal with it for you. Don’t let it go undealt with.”

She explained how matrimonial lawyers tend to get the most complaints. “You have the wife complaining about the husband’s lawyer, the husband complaining about the wife’s lawyer. It gets really ugly,” she said.

Szochet also recommended that all lawyers, especially those who have never received a complaint, need to familiarize themselves with three books: the “New York Rules of Court,” Roy Simon’s “Annotated Rules of Professional Conduct” and Section 90 of “New York Judiciary Law.”

Szochet, who has been a practicing attorney for nearly 30 years, also announced that she is leaving her position as assistant deputy chief Appellate Court attorney at the appellate division of the New York Supreme Court in the second department. Starting on Feb. 26, she will begin working at the Kings County Supreme Court as a court attorney referee.

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