Is Attorney Certification Still Worthwhile?

The State Liquor Authority announced on November 5, 2013, that it will continue to provide an incentive to attorneys and applicants to self-certify retail applications.  The Commissioner assured attorneys that processing times will be significantly reduced for self-certified applications, allowing applicants to begin serving alcohol weeks or months sooner than non-certified applications.

For applicants who will sell at least $500 per week in alcoholic beverage sales, the self-certifications program can help the bottom line of the business seeking a liquor license by allowing alcohol sales weeks or months earlier.

This advantage is offered to applicants working with a licensed attorney rather than unlicensed “consultants” who assist liquor license applicants with obtaining a New York liquor license.  These unlicensed service providers have no professional liability for the services they provide (malpractice) and no incentive to remain current on changes in the applicable law and procedure.  The attorney certification program rewards and incentivizes applicants to hire competent trained attorneys.  The goal of the self-certification program is to reduce processing times of retail applications at the Licensing Board by reducing the clogs and bottlenecks caused by incomplete application packages.

If your food sales exceed $2,775 per week, you will almost certainly receive a return on your investment in attorney certification*.  Most restaurant owners report that the impact on the bottom line is more than the revenue from the sale of alcoholic beverages.  Many customers that visit an establishment that does not serve alcohol will not return, and worse, spread the word to 7 – 10 other potential customers who are less likely to patronize the establishment as a result of the personal review by someone they trust.  Studies show that customers stay longer and spend more when alcohol and food are consumed together.  This means more sales of your higher profit items such as appetizers and desserts, helping the bottom line once again.

For bars and clubs, the investment in attorney certification is typically recaptured in less than a week of operating revenue.  This is not surprising given that the sale of alcohol is the primary revenue source for these businesses.  No alcohol, no business.  For bar and club applicants, attorney certification is a “no brainer.”

Interested in learning how attorney certification can benefit your bar or restaurant business?  Call us for a free consultation.

*      This assumes attorney certification costs $1,500 – $2,000 additional legal fees as compared to non-certified applications.  It also assumes sales of alcohol will be 18% – 22% of total sales.