<i>Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Photo: Bloomberg</i> Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Photo: Bloomberg

The New York State Bar Association is urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign legislation that would extend attorney-client privilege to lawyer referral services.

The legislation, which passed the Republican-led Senate last week, would make communication between clients and a legal referral service privileged on the same basis as between an attorney and client. Information provided by the client when seeking a legal referral often contains information that could damage the client’s criminal or civil case if it were revealed to adverse parties, according to the bill’s justification.

“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,” said State Bar President Sharon Stern Gerstman. “This legislation would resolve any potential question about the confidentiality of communications between the state’s 20 lawyer referral services and those who rely on them for help, and the New York State Bar Association strongly urges Governor Cuomo to sign it into law.”

The bill, sponsored by State Sen. John Bonacic, R-Mount Hope, and Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, D-Bronx, who chair the judiciary committees in their respective houses, was written with the consultation of the State Bar’s Committee on Lawyer Referral Service and the New York City Bar Association.

The legislation has already passed the Democratic-dominated Assembly. A spokesman for the governor’s office said it would review the legislation.