Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Tuesday, October 11, 2005


Page 1


Schwarzenegger Signs Bill Extending Law Allowing Out-of-State Lawyers to Arbitrate in California


By a MetNews Staff Writer


Lawyers admitted in other states may continue to participate in arbitrations in California, at least until Jan. 1, 2007, under legislation signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The Governor’s Office announced over the weekend that he had signed AB 415 by Assemblyman Tom Harman, R-Huntington Beach on Thursday. The bill extends for one year the provisions of Code of Civil Procedure Sec. 1282.4, which otherwise would have expired at the end of this year.

The statute allows out-of-state lawyers both to appear in California arbitrations and to render legal services in California that are related to arbitrations held in other states. It does not apply, however, to lawyers who reside or are employed in California or work here on a regular basis, and lawyers who appear under its provisions are required to certify that they meet the statutory requirements and that they agree to have their activities in California regulated by the State Bar, just as out-of-state lawyers appearing pro hac vice in state courts must do.

Legislation allowing out-of-state lawyers to participate in California arbitrations was first enacted in 1998 in response to +Birbrower v. Superior Court+ (1998) 17 Cal.4th 117, which held that in the absence of a statute or rule to the contrary, out-of-state lawyers may not render substantial legal services in California or enforce an agreement requiring a client to pay for such services.

As introduced by Harman back in February, AB 415 would have made that legislation permanent. But the bill was amended in the Assembly to instead extend the provisions for three years, and a Senate amendment cut the extension to one year.

As amended, the bill breezed to unanimous approval in both houses.

Harman introduced the bill at the behest of the California Dispute Resolution Council, which favors making the existing legislation permanent. As the bill worked its way through the legislative process, however, questions were raised as to the lack of recorded documentation as to whether out-of-state counsel have, in fact, been filing the certificates required by the statute.

Arbitration providers told the legislative committees considering the bill that they do not monitor compliance with the certification requirement, which led the Assembly to approve amendments to the certification process.

Because the CDRC and Harman believed that the Assembly amendments would “make the process unnecessarily complicated,” the bill was amended in the Senate to simply extend the existing law for one year “to allow interested parties to work on a better process that would incorporate accountability on the part of the out-of-state attorneys, the arbitrators, and the State Bar,” according to a Senate Judiciary Committee analysis.


Copyright 2005, Metropolitan News Company