The lawyer can get in trouble with the Ethics Committee and be subject to disciplinary action.
I am a former federal and State prosecutor and now handle criminal defense and personal injury/civil rights cases. Feel free to check out my web site and contact me at (212) 385-8015 or via email at Eric@RothsteinLawNY.com. The above answer is for informational purposes only and not meant as legal advice.
One of the hardest things about being a lawyer is navigating through ethical issues that can get pretty murky sometimes. It seems that your friend the lawyer has not done so well with that, and now has a guilty conscience. Lawyers who get themselves into ethical binds often have other issues - mental health, substance abuse, gambling. If this describes him, he ought to get help before he hurts his clients and wrecks his own career. The Bar Association has a Lawyers' Assitance Program. Maybe you should ask him if he has looked into that.
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