It is, perhaps, every lawyer's biggest fear -- getting disbarred from the state lawyer's bar association. Law students have to take a professional responsibility course that outlines what constitutes ethical behavior and the sanctions levied if they are not followed. This knowledge is also tested on the bar exam. Future lawyers must also give the state bar association permission to conduct a thorough background check. New York residents who have been found guilty of committing crimes involving dishonesty, such as fraud and deceit, may not be allowed to sit for the bar exam.
Though the American Bar Association has rules dealing with lawyer's conflicts on interests, the exact phrase has not been defined. However, when New Yorkers hear the term, one immediately forms negative associations and rushes to judgment against the lawyer in question. But the truth is that not all conflicts of interests disqualify a lawyer or leave them open to disciplinary procedures. Rules exist for this very reason -- to protect clients.