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Fear Of COVID May Justify Attorney Withdrawal, Says New York Bar

Two wooden chairs in a waiting room with a clock hanging on the wall above them

November 10, 2020

An advisory opinion from the New York State Bar Association says that if a lawyer fears contracting Covid as a result of some aspect of a client representation, the lawyer may ethically withdraw from that representation. The opinion was in response to an inquiry from a lawyer who was to be scheduled at an in-person proceeding for a client at an immigration court that did not have safety protocols in place. The ABA and some other states have weighed in on a similar question, and there has been at least one instance where an attorney contracted COVID and died after being required to attend an in-person hearing. This post also notes that, while concerns clearly remain, virtual proceedings are becoming increasingly common while in-person proceedings are increasingly likely to have protections in place.

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