Repeal of Judiciary Law 470 Passes Senate, Bill Raising Assigned Counsel Rates Advances
Legislation that would repeal the archaic in-state office requirement for nonresident attorneys practicing law in New York has passed the Senate with nearly unanimous support. As members may recall, the bill (S.700/A.5895) was approved by the Senate last year but did not get a vote in the Assembly before the session ended. This year, the Senate passed it quickly and the bill awaits action in the Assembly Judiciary Committee.
There is no known opposition to the the bill and it has the enthusiastic support of the New York State Bar Association and the New York City Bar. As noted by the association’s Working Group on 470, the law no longer serves any of its policy goals and is an unnecessary hurdle to the practice of law in New York.
Assigned Counsel Rates (S.3257a/A6013a)
Legislation raising the assigned counsel rates for attorneys was recently amended at the request of NYSBA’s Department of Government Relations. The original bill proposed to double the current rates for 18B panel attorneys, but failed to include Attorneys for the Children rates, a mechanism for continuous adjustment, and dedicated state funding for the increases. The bill now includes all these provisions supported by NYSBA’s Report on Assigned Counsel Rates and was moved for the first time out of the Senate Local Government Committee.
Local Government Chair Senator Gaughran said at the time of the vote “I will just point out, that I think one of the issues that we have is that our courts have been really clogged because there aren’t enough people stepping up to do this work, and this is a very good bill.” This sentiment is echoed by the entire legal community as administrators and courts struggle to staff attorney panels and provide counsel to those in need. The increase in assigned counsel rates is long overdue and ripe for this years budget negotiations. For a more complete legislative history of the raises, please see past NYSBA article Unfulfilled Promises for Right to Counsel.
Next Steps in Advocacy:
This week, NYSBA President T. Andrew Brown has several high-level meetings with key legislative stakeholders. President Brown will be urging legislators to raise the abysmal assigned counsel rates as part of this year’s budget negotiations and educating them on how obsolete Judiciary Law 470 is.
Did you miss NYSBA’s Department of Government Relations Newsletter? View the January edition here and learn about NYSBA’s advocacy on behalf of membership.