The NY State Bar Has a Mobile App for Ethics. Why Not the ABA or Other States?

Lawyers are obligated to abide by ethics rules at all times – and thanks to the New York State Bar Association , fulfilling that obligation is easier than it’s ever been with a new mobile app that’s available for the iPhone, Android and Blackberry. As a New York licensed lawyer myself, I’ve already downloaded the app onto my phone and tested it out – and it’s just terrific. The search tool is robust and speedy, far more powerful than running a word-search through the clunky PDF version of the rules online. The advantage of having ethics rules available on the go is self-evident; lawyers can refer to them on the spot if they have questions about whether a particular activity constitutes solicitation or breaches privilege, not to mention, read through them if they’re bored.

Meanwhile, the ABA continues to keep its opinions cloistered by copyright and a fee wall. Maryland, another jurisdiction where I’m licensed does the same. Yet both the ABA and Maryland defend these opinions – which govern lawyer conduct – as proprietary investments that only dues-paying members can access.

The NYSBA is also a dues-paying organization – yet it’s made the New York ethics opinions available to all (not just members) at no charge. So, ABA and Maryland Bar – how do you respond now?