Law New: The City of New York Expands Access to Public Records

The legal industry is changing. The change is not a result of regulatory mandates or market forces, but it is driven by an overarching philosophy that changes how law is approached and delivered. The philosophy, a new paradigm for the legal industry called “law new,” has been shaped by three key forces: large-scale legal buyer activism, and the entry of corporate Goliaths that have the brand, capital, know-how, customer-centricity, data mastery, tech platforms, agile, multidisciplinary workforces, and footprint in/familiarity with the legal industry to challenge traditional delivery models and deliver meaningful change.

A law new approach is based on the belief that the legal system should reflect a more holistic approach to society, including its values and ethics. This approach includes a greater focus on collaboration, transparency, accessibility, affordability, efficiency, and a solutions-based approach to problems that were traditionally handled by a legal department.

In contrast, the old law paradigm centered on rules and a hierarchy of power, with lawyers at the top of the pyramid. The new paradigm shifts this hierarchy to an open, collaborative environment where the clients and their business teams are at the center of everything we do.

This legislation is part of the law new movement and reflects the importance of collaboration, transparency, and accessibility to the legal process. In particular, this bill demonstrates the City’s commitment to expanding access to records through digital technologies and increasing the speed with which the public can obtain information.

A legislative bill is a written proposal for the creation or amendment of a statute. A bill must be sponsored by a member of either the House of Representatives or the Senate to become law. It is then sent to a committee of the chamber where it undergoes a series of research, discussion, and change sessions before it is put to a vote. If the bill passes, it is sent to the other chamber for a similar process before becoming law.

The people have a right to know the process of governmental decision-making and to review the documents and statistics leading to those determinations. Governmental agencies shall not thwart this right by shrouding their decision-making in secrecy or confidentiality.

Under this law, the City must post a list of all records deemed to be exempt from disclosure on its website or make such information available at its offices. The City also must allow individuals to inspect and copy such records upon request unless the record contains personal information about them or otherwise is subject to an exception under article eighty-seven of this chapter. Agencies may promulgate guidelines regarding deletion of identifying details or withholding from disclosure of records otherwise available under this section in order to prevent unwarranted invasions of privacy. These guidelines should be developed in consultation with the committee on open government. The City must notify the committee of any such guidelines.