August 27, 2018: Governor Signs NYS Bar Association Legislation Providing Attorney-Client Privilege to Lawyer Referral Services

New York State Bar Association President Michael Miller today praised Governor Andrew M. Cuomo for signing into law legislation that provides attorney-client privilege to lawyer referral services.

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.

“Providing protection for communications between a lawyer referral service and a client has remained a key legislative priority of the New York State Bar Association,” said Miller. “We applaud Governor Cuomo and the Legislature for making this important change to New York’s law.”

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. This new law resolves any potential question about the confidentiality of communications between the state’s 20 lawyer referral services and those who rely on them for help.

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 state’s Judiciary Law Section 498 has been amended 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, which was sponsored by Senator John Bonacic, R-Mount Hope, and Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, D-Bronx, passed the Legislature earlier this year.

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.

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Contact: Christian Nolan 
cnolan@nysba.org
518-487-5536