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July 30, 2009

STATEMENT BY NEW YORK STATE BAR ASSOCIATION PRESIDENT MICHAEL E. GETNICK

Federal Trade Commission Announcement on "Red Flags" Rule

We are pleased that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has decided to delay for a 90-day period enforcement of the "Red Flags" Rule.  As the State Bar has noted before, we believe that the imposition on attorneys of this rule, though intended to address the very serious problem of identity theft, is both unnecessary and beyond the intent of Congress.

As the majority of lawyers practice in the solo or small firm setting, they are not engaged in the type of commercial activity that is sought to be addressed by this rule.  Indeed, the FTC has been unable to provide one single incident of identity theft arising from a law practice context.  Moreover, such a requirement would assuredly be at odds with the concept, backed by a D.C. District Court's ruling, that the regulation of the practice of law is traditionally within the purview of the states as opposed to the federal government.

I commend the American Bar Association and the many state and local bar associations across the nation for taking action on such a critical issue to the legal profession.  We remain committed to working with our Association partners, members of Congress, and the FTC toward a resolution that will provide attorneys with an exemption from the "Red Flags" Rule.

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 The 76,000-member New York State Bar Association is the official statewide organization of lawyers in New York and the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. Founded in 1876, State Bar programs and activities have continuously served the public and improved the justice system for more than 130 years.