Resolution Opposing House Bill No. 487, Printer’s No. 526
Providing For Proposed Amended Language To The Bill

WHEREAS, for more than fifty years, the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Lawyer Referral and Information Service (“LRIS”) has proved to be a vital service to both the public and the profession by providing referrals of potential clients to attorneys in private practice; and

WHEREAS, in Bourke v. Kazaras, 746 A. 2d 642 (2000), the Pennsylvania Superior Court stated with regard to a claim of negligent referral, “We agree with the trial court that no such cause of action exists, and we decline to create one.”; and

WHEREAS, House Bill No. 487, Printer’s No. 526 (“H.B. 487”), which would amend Title 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes by adding a section titled “Lawyer referral service civil immunity” and which has been passed by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, is pending in the Senate and would diminish the existing common law protections from civil liability established in Bourke v. Kazaras; and

WHEREAS, H. B. 487’s broad definition of a “lawyer referral service” would include for-profit commercial entities that compete with non-profit public service lawyer referral services, even though those commercial entities may not act in the public interest, screen their attorneys for experience or require their attorneys to carry professional liability insurance coverage; and

WHEREAS, H. B. 487’s vague requirements, including that lawyer referral services be acting in good faith to avoid liability and must believe that a lawyer to whom a client is referred “is qualified to adequately satisfy the legal needs of the potential client”, open the door to speculative claims against lawyer referral services and would therefore modify the existing common law.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Board of Governors of the Philadelphia Bar Association opposes enactment of House Bill No. 487, Printer’s No. 526.

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that, if it appears H. B. 487 in its current form will pass the Senate and be enacted into law, then the Chancellor or his designee is authorized to advocate for the inclusion in H.B. 487 of the proposed amendments contained in Exhibit A to this Resolution.

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Board of Governors authorizes the Chancellor or his designee to communicate the Association’s opposition to H. B. 487 to both the Philadelphia delegation to the General Assembly as well as the entire General Assembly.

ADOPTED: MAY 25, 2006