495. Corporations and voluntary associations not to practice law. 1. No corporation or voluntary association shall (a) practice or appear as an attorney-at-law for any person in any court in this state or before any judicial body, nor
(b) make it a business to practice as an attorney-at-law, for any person, in any of said courts, nor
(c) hold itself out to the public as being entitled to practice law, or to render legal services or advice, nor
(d) furnish attorneys or counsel, nor
(e) render legal services of any kind in actions or proceedings of any nature or in any other way or manner, nor
(f) assume in any other manner to be entitled to practice law, nor
(g) assume, use or advertise the title of lawyer or attorney, attorney-at-law, or equivalent terms in any language in such manner as to convey the impression that it is entitled to practice law or to furnish legal advice, services or counsel, nor
(h) advertise that either alone or together with or by or through any person whether or not a duly and regularly admitted attorney-at-law, it has, owns, conducts or maintains a law office or an office for the practice of law, or for furnishing legal advice, services or counsel.
2. No corporation or voluntary association shall itself or by or through its officers, agents or employees, solicit any claim or demand, or taken an assignment thereof, for the purpose of representing any person in the pursuit of any civil remedy, nor solicit any claim or demand for the purpose of representing as attorney-at-law, or of furnishing legal advice, services or counsel to, a person sued or about to be sued in any action or proceeding or against whom an action or proceeding has been or is about to be brought, or who may be affected by any action or proceeding which has been or may be instituted in any court or before any judicial body.
Nothing herein contained shall affect any assignment heretofore or hereafter taken by any moneyed corporation authorized to do business in the state of New York or its nominee pursuant to a subrogation agreement or a salvage operation. Any corporation or voluntary association violating the provisions of this subdivision or of subdivision one of this section shall be liable to a fine of not more than five thousand dollars and every officer, trustee, director, agent or employee of such corporation or voluntary association who directly or indirectly engages in any of the acts prohibited in this subdivision or in subdivision one of this section or assists such corporation or voluntary association to do such prohibited acts is guilty of a misdemeanor. The fact that such officer, trustee, director, agent or employee shall be a duly and regularly admitted attorney-at-law, shall not be held to permit or allow any such corporation or voluntary association to do the acts so prohibited nor shall such fact be a defense upon the trial of any of the persons mentioned herein for a violation of the provisions of this subdivision or subdivision one of this section.
3. No voluntary association or corporation shall ask or receive directly or indirectly, compensation for preparing deeds, mortgages, assignments, discharges, leases, or any other instruments affecting real estate, wills, codicils, or any other instruments affecting disposition of property after death or decedents' estates, or pleadings of any kind in actions or proceedings of any nature. Any association or corporation violating the provisions of this subdivision is guilty of a misdemeanor unless otherwise provided by section four hundred eighty-five-a of this article.
4. Subdivisions one and two of this section shall not apply to any corporation or voluntary association lawfully engaged in a business authorized by the provisions of any existing statute.
5. This section shall not apply to a corporation or voluntary association lawfully engaged in the examination and insuring of titles to real property, in the preparation of any deeds, mortgages, assignments, discharges, leases or any other instruments affecting real property insofar as such instruments are necessary to the examination and insuring of titles, and necessary or incidental to loans made by any such corporation or association; nor shall it prohibit a corporation or voluntary association from employing an attorney or attorneys in and about its own immediate affairs or in any litigation to which it is or may be a party. Nothing herein contained shall be construed to prevent a corporation or association from furnishing to any person, lawfully engaged in the practice of law, such information or such clerical services in and about his professional work as, except for the provisions of this section, may be lawful, provided that at all times the lawyer receiving such information or such services shall maintain full professional and direct responsibility to his clients for the information and services so received. But no corporation shall be permitted to render any services which cannot lawfully be rendered by a person not admitted to practice law in this state nor to solicit directly or indirectly professional employment for a lawyer.
6. This section shall not apply to a corporation organized under article fifteen, or authorized to do business in this state under article fifteen-A, of the business corporation law.
7. This section does not apply to organizations which offer prepaid legal services; to non-profit organizations whether incorporated or unincorporated, organized and operating primarily for a purpose other than the provision of legal services and which furnish legal services as an incidental activity in furtherance of their primary purpose; or to organizations which have as their primary purpose the furnishing of legal services to indigent persons.
Last modified: February 3, 2019