FAQs For the Public

How can I find a lawyer?

The Brooklyn Bar Association can assist you in finding an attorney.

Our Lawyer Referral Service can refer you to regular attorneys who either charge regular fees or contingency fees for their services. The Lawyer Referral Service can be reached at (718) 624-0843. These attorneys will have a consultation with you and if you hire them their fees are whatever you agree to with the attorney.

The Brooklyn Bar Association Volunteer Lawyers Project offers free legal advice and representation to people who cannot afford a lawyer. The Volunteer Lawyers Project, is the only program of our kind that operates borough-wide in Brooklyn, and the legal assistance they provide solves fundamental problems affecting people’s basic rights.

How can I resolves a dispute with my attorney?

In the event of a fee dispute with your attorney you may request arbitration of the dispute through the Attorney-Client Fee Dispute Resolution Program established by the New York State Unified Court System. This program, called part 137, is run through the Brooklyn Bar Association in Kings County. For forms to request arbitration please go to:

http://www.courts.state.ny.us/admin/feedispute/Forms/kings2djd.pdf.

What are my rights as a client?

As a client you have the following rights:

  • You are entitled to be treated with courtesy and consideration at all times by your lawyer and the other lawyers and personnel in your lawyer’s office.
  • You are entitled to an attorney capable of handling your legal matter competently and diligently, in accordance with the highest standards of the profession. If you are not satisfied with how your matter is being handled, you have the right to withdraw from the attorney-client relationship at any time (court approval may be required in some matters and your attorney may have a claim against you for the value of services rendered to you up to the point of discharge).
  • You are entitled to your lawyer’s independent professional judgment and undivided loyalty uncompromised by conflicts of interest.
  • You are entitled to be charged a reasonable fee and to have your lawyer explain at the outset how the fee will be computed and the manner and frequency of billing. You are entitled to request and receive a written itemized bill from your attorney at reasonable intervals. You may refuse to enter into any fee agreement that you find unsatisfactory. In the event of a dispute, you may have the right to seek arbitration; your attorney will provide you with the necessary information
  • You are entitled to have your questions and concerns addressed in a prompt manner and have your phone calls returned promptly.
  • You are entitled to be kept informed as to the status of your matter and to request and receive copies of papers. You are entitled to sufficient information to allow you to participate meaningfully in the development of your matter.
  • You are entitled to have your legitimate objectives respected by your attorney, including whether or not to settle your matter (court approval of a settlement is required in some matters).
  • You are entitled to privacy in your dealings with your lawyer and to have your secrets and confidences preserved to the extent permitted by law.
  • You are entitled to have your attorney conduct himself or herself ethically in accordance with the Code of Professional Responsibility.
  • You are entitled to refused representation on the basis of race, creed, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, age, national origin or disability.

What are my responsibilities as a client?

Reciprocal trust, courtesy and respect are the hallmarks of the attorney-client relationship. Within that relationship, the client looks to the attorney for expertise, education, sound judgment, protection, advocacy and representation. These expectations can be achieved only if the client fulfills the following responsibilities:

  • The client is expected to treat the lawyer and the lawyer’s staff with courtesy and consideration.
  • The client’s relationship with the lawyer must be one of complete candor and the lawyer must be apprised of all facts or circumstances of the matter being handled by the lawyer even if the client believes that those facts may be detrimental to the client’s cause or unflattering to the client.
  • The client must honor the fee arrangement as agreed to with the lawyer, in accordance with law.
  • All bills for services rendered which are tendered to the client pursuant to the agreed upon fee arrangement should be paid promptly.
  • The client may withdraw from the attorney-client relationship, subject to financial commitments under the agreed to fee arrangement, and, in certain circumstances, subject to court approval.
  • Although the client should expect that his or her correspondence, telephone calls and other communications will be answered within a reasonable time frame, the client should recognize that the lawyer has other clients equally demanding of the lawyer’s time and attention.
  • The client should maintain contact with the lawyer, promptly notify the lawyer of any change in telephone number or address and respond promptly to a request by the lawyer for information and cooperation.
  • The client must realize that the lawyer need respect only legitimate objectives of the client and that the lawyer will not advocate or propose positions which are unprofessional or contrary to law or the Lawyer’s Code of Professional responsibility.
  • The lawyer may be unable to accept a case if the lawyer has previous professional commitments which will result in inadequate time being available for the proper representation of a new client.
  • A lawyer is under no obligation to accept a client if the lawyer determines that the cause of the client is without merit, a conflict of interest would exist or that a suitable working relationship with the client is not likely.

How can I get information about an attorney?

All attorneys are required to be licensed and to register with the state. To look up an attorney and see when they were admitted to practice and where their offices are go to https://iapps.courts.state.ny.us/attorney/AttorneySearch.

What do I do if I am unhappy with my attorney?

As a client, you may withdraw from the attorney-client relationship at any time, although court approval may be required in some matters and your attorney may have a claim against you for the value of services rendered to you up to the point of discharge.

In the event that you believe your attorney violated the Code of Professional Responsibility that sets forth the ethical standards for attorneys in New York State you may have grounds for a complaint against that attorney.
Any complaint against an attorney must be made to the grievance committee for the region of New York where that attorney practices.

The Grievance Committee for Kings County is the Grievance Committee for the Second and Eleventh Judicial Districts. Their phone number is (718) 923-6300.

Where Can I get Information about Helping My Kids Cope With Divorce?

The New York State Parent Education and Awareness Program – www.nycourts.gov/parented. Are you a parent going through a divorce or separation? Do you have children under the age of 18? If so, the New York State Parent Education and Awareness Program can help you learn how to make your new family life easier for you and your children.

How Can I Join the New York State Unified Court System as a Court Interpreter?

www.nycourts.gov/courtinterpreter The New York State Unified Court System provides interpreters in more than 100 languages. Court Interpreters help New Yorkers participate fully in our courts regardless of language or hearing capacity. The court system has part-time, full-time and freelance interpreter opportunities available statewide.

How Can I Download Official Court Forms For Free?

http://www.nycourts.gov/courthelp/forms.html
Official forms of the New York State Court System are available online and can be downloaded at no cost.

Where Can I Learn More About The Divorce Process?

Matrimonial Matters -www.nycourts.gov/matrimonial. Matrimonial Matters and divorce information, including video, divorce forms and glossary of legal terms.