The Commission vote approving publication of the Federal Register Notice was 4-0, with Commissioner Harbour recused. (FTC File No. P062105; the staff contact is William E. Cohen, Office of the General Counsel, 202-326-2110; see press release dated March 29, 2006.)Transmission of joint FTC/DOJ comments: The Commission has authorized the filing of comments, prepared jointly with the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) 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 A01837, 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 showing that non-attorney services have caused consumer harm, is not in the best interest of consumers. In concluding the comments, the agencies wrote, “The proposed legislation likely 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.”
The Commission vote to transmit the comments to the New York State Assembly Committee on the Judiciary was 5-0. Copies are available now on the FTC’s Web site as a link to this press release. The FTC and DOJ filed similar joint comments in June 2006 on New York State Assembly Bill A05596. (FTC File No. V070004; the staff contact is Gustav P. Chiarello, Office of Policy Planning, 202-326-2633.)
Copies of the documents mentioned in this release are available from the FTC’s Web site at http://www.ftc.gov and from the FTC’s Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20580. Call toll-free: 1-877-FTC-HELP.