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May 20, 2010

STATE BAR URGES GOVERNOR PATERSON TO SIGN LEGISLATION AUTHORIZING THE ATTORNEY GENERAL TO PROSECUTE CASES INVOLVING UNLAWFUL PRACTICE OF LAW

New York State Bar Association President Michael E. Getnick (Getnick Livingston Atkinson & Priore, LLP of Utica and of counsel to Getnick & Getnick of New York City) today urged Governor David A. Paterson to sign into law legislation passed recently by both houses of the State Legislature that would authorize the state's Attorney General to prosecute instances of the unauthorized practice of law.

The legislation, (S.5445/A.4300) sponsored by Senator John Sampson and Assemblyman Ron Canestrari, would provide statutory authority for the New York State Attorney General to bring both civil and criminal actions against defendants for violations of the Judiciary Law based on the unlawful practice of law. The legislation also would enable coordinated, statewide prosecution of illegal real estate closing schemes and programs that defraud unknowing consumers and lenders in the state.

"This legislation would enhance the Attorney General's ability to combat real estate corruption, larceny and other illegal actions perpetrated by phony lawyers and suspended or disbarred counsel," said President Getnick. "I urge the Governor to sign this bill into law without delay to further the Attorney General's ability to protect the public from unlicensed legal practitioners."

The unauthorized practice of law legislation was initially proposed by the New York State Bar Association's Committee on Unlawful Practice of Law and was passed by the Legislature with the strong advocacy of the Association's Real Property Law Section.

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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 Web site at www.nysba.org.