A bill that would authorize the attorney general to commence both civil and criminal actions for the unlawful practice of law unanimously passed a New York Senate committee last week, and also has the support of a key assembly member.

State Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman John A. DeFrancisco, R-Syracuse, has been promoting the bill virtually since the Court of Appeals in 1998 held that Judiciary Law �476-a permits the attorney general to pursue only a civil action for unauthorized practice (see People v. Romero, 91 NY 2d 750). The Senate Judiciary Committee has repeatedly moved the measure, which has also been introduced in the Assembly. This year, it has the backing of the newly designated Assembly majority leader, Assemblyman Ronald Canestrari, an Albany County Democrat.

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