Repeal of Section 470 Passes Legislature, Heads to Governor’s Desk
The state Assembly voted on June 7 to repeal Judiciary Law Section 470, which requires lawyers admitted to practice in New York – but residing in other states – to have a law office in the state. The state Senate has already approved the bill, which now goes to Gov. Kathy Hochul for her signature.
“The New York State Bar Association has lobbied hard for the repeal of Section 470 and is thrilled that the Legislature has recognized that the law is antiquated and burdensome,” said association President Richard Lewis. “Section 470 was created when horses were the main mode of transportation. In a world with e-filing, virtual court appearances and searchable databases, attorneys do not need to maintain offices in New York State to practice here. We urge the governor to sign the bill and repeal this outdated law.”
When Section 470 was enacted in 1909, it was because the New York State Legislature believed that it would be difficult to serve papers on a nonresident attorney who didn’t have an office in the state. At the time, lawyers practicing in New York were required to live here. The New York Court of Appeals struck down the residency requirement in 1979 on the grounds that it violated the Privileges and Immunities Clause of the state Constitution, but Section 470 still required a New York attorney to maintain a physical office within the state.
In January 2019, NYSBA’s House of Delegates, its governing body, approved a resolution calling for the repeal of Section 470, which had been recommended by the association’s working group studying the issue. Almost one in four members of the New York State Bar Association live and practice outside the state of New York.