Local Law 15 was adopted in 2009 and among other things included law firms that do debt collection and asset buyers to the list of entities regulated by the city.

Two law firms, Eric M. Berman PC and Lacy Katzen LLP, sued the city over the law, arguing it encroached on the state’s authority to regulate lawyers. A federal judge sided with the law firms in 2012.

On appeal the Second Circuit overturned the initial ruling, but asked the New York State Court of Appeals for help with the following:

  1. Does the law encroach on state authority to regulate lawyers? 
  2. Does it conflict with the New York City charter, which designates the Department of Consumer Affairs as the go-to agency to license debt collectors?

In the ruling announced Tuesday, June 30, 2015, Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman concluded that Local Law 15 did neither. He noted that it “does not impose an additional requirement for attorneys to practice law [and] can be seen as complementary to and compatible with” current judiciary laws regulation attorneys.

The court declined to answer the second question, but Lippman wrote that “the city should not be prevented from taking permissible steps to curb abusive debt collection practices.”

Collection attorneys, whether you are licensed to practice law in the state of New York or not, are now required to obtain a license with the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs.


Christy Young Barger is the Director of Client Relations for Cornerstone Support.  After 10 years experience she has a thorough knowledge of the entire licensing process. If  you are an attorney or law firm that needs to be licensed in New York City contact us for a quote today at (888) 445-8660 or info@cornerstonesupport.com.


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