March 12, 2018: New York State Bar Association Urges Governor To Sign Legislation Providing Attorney-Client Privilege To Lawyer Referral Services

New York State Bar Association President Sharon Stern Gerstman applauded the state Senate and Assembly for passing legislation that would provide attorney-client privilege to lawyer referral services, and urged Governor Andrew Cuomo to sign the measure into law.

Each year thousands of New Yorkers rely upon lawyer referral services to help find an attorney or be directed to the appropriate resource. Consumers may provide details that include information that could be potentially damaging to their criminal or civil case if disclosed to opposing parties.

“People who rely upon lawyer referral services for assistance do so with the assumption that the detailed information they provide is both necessary to receiving a referral, and confidential,” said Gerstman. “This legislation would resolve any potential question about the confidentiality of communications between the state’s 20 lawyer referral services and those who rely on them for help, and the New York State Bar Association strongly urges Governor Cuomo to sign it into law.”

The bill (S.5845/A.9029) was developed in consultation with the New York State Bar Association’s Committee on Lawyer Referral Service and the New York City Bar Association.  The bill would amend the state’s Judiciary Law Section 498 to add a subdivision providing that communications between a lawyer referral service and a consumer of the lawyer referral service be deemed privileged on the same basis as those under the law for communications between an attorney and client.

The bipartisan bill is sponsored by Senator John Bonacic, R-Mount Hope, and Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, D-Bronx.

About the New York State Bar Association
The New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. Since 1876, the Association has helped shape the development of law, educated and informed the legal profession and the public, and championed the rights of New Yorkers through advocacy and guidance in our communities.

Contact: Christian Nolan
Senior Writer
Cnolan@nysba.org
518/487-5536