The Federal Trade Commission has adopted interpretive regulations that provide that the definition of a financial institution also includes any person "providing tax planning and tax preparation services" and "an entity that provides real estate settlement services" to consumers "primarily for personal, family, or household use." It is rapidly becoming the consensus among the Bar that this applies to attorneys doing individual estate planning and firms closing residential real estate. Some are arguing for reading wider applicability into this interpretation out of a sense of due caution.
Members of the ABA and NCBA are looking into this issue, and hope to be communicating recommendations to the membership soon. Reportedly, the ABA is organizing an effort to secure legislation that will exempt attorneys from this requirement. The North Carolina Bar Associations web site can be found at www.ncbar.org. Various list servers and bar organizations are beginning to promulgate forms of notice tailored to law practice. Until change is effected, it would be wise to prepare for sending notice to all applicable current clients and providing it to new ones with your initial contact.