The unlicensed practice of law will become a felony in New York under a bill Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law yesterday. The measure, A5700/S1998, was developed in part with language proposed by the New York State Bar Association earlier this year. The bill will take effect Nov. 1, 2013.

Currently, the unlicensed practice of law is a misdemeanor. The bill will make it a Class E felony if offenders fraudulently hold themselves out as lawyers and their activities result in the monetary loss of $1,000 or more to victims. The current sentence of up to one year in jail will increase to up to four years in prison under the new statute.

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