Tuesday, May 13, 2003
S.C., in Followup to Task Force Report, Asks for Comment On Limited Multistate Practice Rules
By a MetNews Staff Writer
A committee appointed by the California Supreme Court yesterday released for public comment a set of proposed rules allowing out-of-state lawyers to practice in California under limited circumstances.
The proposed rules largely track the recommendations of a task force appointed by Chief Justice Ronald M. George in response to legislation sponsored by Sen. Bill Morrow, R-San Juan Capistrano.
They would allow four categories of practice by members of the bars of other states:
•Out-of-state lawyers residing in California and employed full-time as in-house counsel—other than to organizations providing legal services—would be allowed to register with the State Bar under a process similar to admission, but not requiring an examination. These lawyers could not appear in court, but would otherwise be allowed to practice law here on behalf of their employers. They would have one year to complete the same number of MCLE hours that State Bar members must take within three years, currently 25, and would be subject after that to the same MCLE requirements as State Bar members.
•Lawyers from other states would be allowed to represent indigents under supervision of a licensed California attorney, while working for a qualifying legal services organization, for up to three years. Like in-house counsel, they would have to register with the State Bar, and would have to complete 25 MCLE hours within the first year and 25 hours every three years after that.
•Out-of-state lawyers temporarily present in California to advise existing clients or fulfill nonlitigation tasks on their behalf would not face claims of unauthorized practice, recognizing the status quo; and
•Lawyers from other states who anticipate involvement in litigation here on behalf of existing clients, but who cannot be admitted pro hac vice because suit has not yet been filed, would be allowed to perform tasks related to the anticipated litigation.
Morrow, a persistent State Bar critic, sponsored Senate Bill 1782 at the urging of out-of-state lawyers who wanted to bring down most barriers to their practicing in California. Morrow’s bill, in its original form, would have allowed any lawyer licensed in another state and in good standing for at least three years to practice in California.
The senator later rewrote the measure to include a task force with the power to implement reciprocity rules, but in its final form—after heavy lobbying by Chief Justice Ronald M. George, among others—the bill called for the purely advisory task force.
When the task force, chaired by former State Bar President Raymond Marshall of San Francisco, issued its report last year, State Bar officials praised its proposals as a reasonable first step. Morrow said the report did not go far enough, but indicated he would take a wait-and-see attitude, and he has not introduced further legislation on the subject.
The proposed rules are available online at www.courtinfo.ca.gov/invitationstocomment. The deadline for comments, which may be submitted through the website or by letter, is July 7, the Administrative Office of the Courts said in a release.
Those sending comments by mail should address them to M. Romunda Price, c/o Administrative Office of the Courts, 455 Golden Gate Ave., San Francisco, CA 94102, the AOC said.
Copyright 2003, Metropolitan News Company