Press Releases

City Bar Applauds Governor Cuomo and the Legislature for Protecting Confidentiality of Legal Referral Service Consumers

The New York City Bar Association applauds Governor Andrew Cuomo, bill sponsors Senator John Bonacic and Assembly member Jeffrey Dinowitz and the State Legislature for amending §498 of the New York Judiciary Law to provide that communications between a consumer of legal services and a legal or lawyer referral service (LRS) be deemed to be privileged on the same basis as those provided by law for communications between attorney and client. This legislation was proposed by the City Bar in conjunction with the New York State Bar Association and was an agenda item in the City Bar’s 2018 New York State Legislative Agenda.

Annually, hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers rely upon 19 LRSs around New York State to help find an appropriate lawyer or be directed to an appropriate agency, government entity, non-profit program or organization, or other resource. The New York City Bar Legal Referral Service, which was established in 1946 and is the oldest lawyer referral service in New York, itself handles 60,000 inquiries by phone and online annually.

In order to be directed to an appropriate lawyer or other resource, consumers need to disclose the same information to LRS referral counselors that they would in an initial meeting with a lawyer. Moreover, when communicating with LRS personnel, consumers of legal services are often anxious, angry, and upset about their legal issues and are understandably focused on explaining their situation in great detail without censoring themselves.

“The City Bar was pleased to collaborate with the State Bar and other New York bar associations to help bring this proposal to fruition, and to facilitate passage of an ABA resolution in the hopes that other states will follow suit,” said David G. Keyko, Chair of the City Bar’s Legal Referral Service Committee. “We applaud the Legislature and the Governor for enacting this measure into law.”

About the Association

The New York City Bar Association, since its founding in 1870, has been dedicated to maintaining the high ethical standards of the legal profession, promoting reform of the law and access to justice, and providing service to the profession and the public. The Association, through its 24,000 members, continues to work for political, legal and social reform, while implementing innovative means to help the disadvantaged. Protecting the public’s welfare remains one of the Association’s highest priorities.