On June 27, the Commission authorized the filing of comments, prepared jointly with the U.S. Department of Justice's Antitrust Division, with the New York State Assembly Committee on the Judiciary regarding proposed legislation to expand the scope of activities constituting the unauthorized practice of law.
In the comments, the FTC and DOJ address Assembly Bill A05596, which would establish that certain services, including title abstracting and other services related to real estate transactions currently provided by non-attorneys, may be limited such that only attorneys may provide such services. The agencies believe that non-attorneys should be permitted to compete with attorneys in such matters, “except where specialized legal knowledge and training is demonstrably necessary to protect the interests of consumers.” The comments state that the Commission and Antitrust Division are concerned that the proposed legislation, which would prevent non-lawyers from competing with lawyers in situations where there is no clear evidence showing that non-attorney services have caused consumer harm, is not in the best interest of consumers. The agencies concluded their comments by stating, “The proposed legislation will unnecessarily and unreasonably reduce competition between attorneys and non-attorneys for services related to real estate transactions. We urge the Committee to reject it.”