The Legal Ethics Bureau at NYU School of Law

LW.12228 / LW.12229
Professor Barbara S. Gillers
Open to 3L, 2L, and LLM students
Maximum of 8 students

Spring semester
5 credits*
No prerequisites or co-requisites.


The Legal Ethics Bureau at New York University School of Law will assist in investigating, researching and drafting for the Grievance Committee for the Southern District of New York, submit amicus briefs to high courts in a variety of public interest contexts, draft ethics opinions, and counsel lawyers in public interest matters on ethical issues. Emphasis will be on practical skills training, as described below.


Students will work with the clinic director and with (i) the Grievance Committee of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, (ii) public interest lawyers in non-profit organizations and in law firms, and (iii) members of professional and judicial ethics committees.  Assignments will involve investigating, researching and drafting opinions for grievance committee matters, and drafting amicus briefs to high courts, drafting ethics rules and opinions, and counseling lawyers.  Emphasis throughout will be on practical skills training, including written and oral presentations.

Fieldwork projects will include: (a) researching and drafting amicus briefs to high courts --- including the U.S. Supreme Court if an appropriate case arises; (b) assisting the Grievance Committee for the Southern District of New York; (c) working with bar committees on ethics opinions and proposed changes to the rules governing lawyers and judges, and (d) counseling pro bono lawyers in law firms, non-profits, and NYU’s own clinics.   Committees that students will assist may include the Grievance Committee for the Southern District of New York, the ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility, the City Bar Professional and Judicial Ethics Committee, and the NYS Committee on Standards of Attorney Conduct.  Students may meet with these committees and make presentations to them in connection with the fieldwork.

From time to time, the clinic will prepare amicus briefs in the Supreme Court or other high courts in conjunction with pro bono lawyers on significant questions of professional responsibility.  In the clinic’s first year, working with pro bono lawyers at a major law firm, students prepared an amicus brief to the New York Court of Appeals.  The amicus brief argued the impropriety of prosecutorial questioning of unrepresented indigent persons while they are in custody and immediately before arraignment and appointment of counsel.  Students also drafted an opinion on prosecutorial ethics for the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility.  Students attended the meeting where their draft was discussed (by conference call).  The students’ work was incorporated into ABA Formal Opinion 467, which became the catalyst for a webinar to be broadcast nationally in March 2015.


Students will participate in a 2-hour seminar once each week. Using selected readings on professional responsibility and on leadership, current events, and peer critiques, students will discuss issues in professional responsibility that confront public interest lawyers and law firms and issues that arise in our fieldwork.   Enrollment in the Legal Ethics Bureau for a semester will satisfy the professional responsibility requirement. 

Application Procedure

Students should submit an application, resume, writing sample, and transcript online through CAMS. To arrange an interview, please use the CAMS system as well. If you have questions regarding the application procedure or the work of the clinic, please contact Adjunct Professor Barbara S. Gillers at or 212-992-7364.

The Legal Ethics Bureau also welcomes LL.M. enrollments, but does not specifically reserve space for them. The application period for LL.M. students is July 1-15, 2015. (Please note there is a separate application form for LL.M. students.)

Student Contacts

Students interested in the clinic are encouraged to speak to members of the 2013-14 Legal Ethics Bureau, listed below:

James Aliaga '15
Zachary Kravat '15
David Leapheart '14
Alex Levy '14
Xiao Luo '14

You are also invited to contact the instructor with any questions you may have.

* 5 credits include 3 clinical (fieldwork) credits and 2 academic seminar credits per semester. Enrollment satisfies the professional responsibility requirement.