Attorney Certification to Expediting New York Retail Liquor License Application

            Current Processing times for retail liquor licenses are nearly 6 months. After mailing an application it is about 4-5 weeks before a filing receipt is received. Then there is about 20 weeks additional time examining processing the application until a license issue. If there is a 500-foot hearing, or the application needs to go to the Full Board at a public meeting, an additional 1-3 months is added to the processing time.

            Our team is often asked what can be done to shorten this processing time. First and foremost, file complete applications. Leaving questions blank and not including required documents will slow down the time to issuance (typically by 1-3 weeks for each deficiency issued by the Examiner).

            What else can an applicant do to get a license faster? Attorney self-certification can speed up the time to get your license. This process allows a licensed attorney to review the application and supporting documents at a deeper level to certify that the contents meet the criteria for a license, and are accurate and complete. This process puts the application on a “fast track” at the Authority because an Officer of the Court has done much of the review the Authority licensing staff would do. This is a big responsibility and liability for the certifying attorney and will likely incur a commensurate additional service fee. It also requires the attorney to personally visit the licensed premises and “inspect” it to certify the application and supporting documents are accurate.

            When processing times are 8-10 weeks, attorney self-certification may not be a cost effective service. But in the current environment where licenses are not issuing for nearly 6 months from mailing the application, this option deserves serious consideration.

            Not all attorneys and law firms offer this service (often due to malpractice limitations or firm policy) so look for an industry professional like Tracy Jong who offers this service.

            Then do the math. Does it make economic sense to pay for attorney self-certification? What are the applicant’s costs for the delay? Compare that to the cost for attorney certification services and make a good business decision. Considering rent only (and not lost revenues), let’s look at two examples:

Example 1.) NYC monthly rent of $8,500 = $230/day

            Rent Cost for one month delay = $8,500

            Rent Cost for two month delay = $17,000    

Cost for attorney certification = $5,000.

Rent savings and Economic Benefit if one month faster = $3,500

Rent savings and Economic Benefit if two months faster = $12,000

Clearly, attorney certification services would be a worthwhile investment in this situation.

Example 2.) Rural Monthly rent of $1,000

            Rural Cost for one month delay = $1,000

            Rural Cost for two month delay = $2,000

            Cost for attorney certification = $1,500

Rent savings and Economic benefit for one month faster = $0

Rent savings and Economic benefit if two months faster = $500

            Attorney certification services may not be a worthwhile investment in this situation unless the lost revenues change the equation.

Example 3.) Assume Rent in Example 2

            If anticipated revenues were $2,000 per week, then the economic benefit for one month would be $7,500 and for two months $16,000. This might make sense to use attorney certification services.

            Only licensed attorneys can offer this service. While non-attorneys offer license application consulting, they may not be the best option if you need to fast track your application. It may initially appear to be a cost-savings, but when you consider what is at stake, this may not be the place to “go cheap”, especially when they can’t offer attorney certification services.

            Attorney self-certification must be requested at the time of filing and can’t be done at a later point. Our team also has taken over applications prepared by these non-attorney consultants to try to “save” poorly prepared applications from denial. It is alarming, and sad. These consultants don’t have malpractice coverage so there is little recourse to the client who was poorly served (aka “screwed”). Using us from inception would have saved the client $1,000-$2,500 and 1-3 months!

            If “time is money” in your situation, explore attorney self-certification as an option to expedite your application.