Committee Reports

Proposed Amendments to the NYS Judiciary Law Regarding Confidentiality Protections for Consumers of Legal Services Contacting a Legal Referral Service or Lawyer Referral Service


Along with the New York State Bar Association, the City Bar proposes amending §498 of the New York Judiciary Law to provide that communications between a consumer of legal services and a legal referral service or lawyer referral service be deemed to be privileged on the same basis as those provided by law for communications between attorney and client. This privilege could be waived only by the consumer of legal services. Section 498 establishes immunity from civil action for an LRS that provides a referral without charge and as a public service, without malice, and in the reasonable belief that such referral was warranted; however, the statute does not contain a confidentiality provision. By explicitly ensuring that such services do not carry the risk of a lawsuit, Section 498 was enacted in recognition of – and in order to encourage – the important service provided by LRS’s. This legislation would further that section’s original intent. Annually, hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers – as well as consumers of legal services from other states and countries – rely upon our local LRS’s to help find an appropriate lawyer or be directed to an appropriate agency, government entity, non-profit program or organization, or other resource. The proposed amendment will resolve any potential question about the confidentiality of communications between the 20 LRS’s in New York and the hundreds of thousands of people who rely on them for help.  


Introduced Jan. 13, 2017 as A.1851 (AM Weinstein