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June 21, 2010

STATE BAR ASSOCIATION OPPOSES PROPOSED ATTORNEY REGISTRATION FEE INCREASE

New York State Bar Association President Stephen P. Younger of New York (Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP) today issued the following statement in opposition to a proposed $25 increase in the attorney registration fee that has been included as part of the negotiations on the 2010-11 state budget:

"Each year, lawyers across New York donate millions of hours of voluntary pro bono legal services to low-income individuals. In 2009, more than 1400 attorneys designated as Empire State Counsel by the State Bar provided a total of nearly one-quarter million hours to the indigent in areas including housing, domestic violence, family law, bankruptcy, and divorce. Lawyers are deeply committed to doing their fair share to improve the quality of life in our communities.

"A proposed $25 increase in the attorney registration fee will have a harmful effect on the many lawyers who do the public good. Lawyers - like everyone else in New York - are still reeling from the impact of the Great Recession and now is not the time to raise their registration fees.

"The volunteer efforts of lawyers alone, however, cannot fully address the need to provide indigent legal services. Ultimately, society as a whole, acting through its duly elected leaders, must provide adequate public funding for legal services to the indigent, without resorting to an increase in the attorney registration fee to meet this obligation."

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Founded in 1876, the 77,000-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. The State Bar's programs and activities have continuously served the public and improved the justice system for more than 130 years. For more information, visit us at our website at www.nysba.org.