Bar Counsel Notes: Unauthorized Practice of Law Issues

Question:

Law firm in Maine has two lawyers who are properly licensed members of other state bars but have not yet passed the bar examination in Maine. While those attorneys await admission in Maine, may they work on cases with other firm lawyers on pro hac vice basis?

Answer:

Yes, provided that the several requirements within MRPC 5.5(c) “Unauthorized Practice of Law; Multijurisdictional Practice of Law” are all present, e. g. under Rule 5.5(c)(1) the services provided by such lawyers “admitted in another United States jurisdiction,” must be performed “…in association with a lawyer who is admitted to practice in (Maine) and who actively participates in the matter.” Rule 5.5(c) should be reviewed for proper compliance with all of its required sections.

*Disclaimer: The Informal Ethics Advisory Notes from Bar Counsel are intended as outreach by the office of Bar Counsel for the use and benefit of the Maine bar. These scenarios are drawn from actual telephone calls received by the attorneys in the office of Bar Counsel in the course of providing informal advice on the Code of Professional Responsibility, known as Bar Counsel's "Ethics Hotline." The particular advice in each case is limited with reference to the particular factual situation related by the inquiring attorney who must be inquiring about his or her own conduct or the conduct of a member of his or her firm. We do not provide any advice to one attorney about the conduct of another attorney unless they are members of the same law firm. In the telephone opinions, we usually explore and discuss additional factual variables. However, I have attempted to pare down these factual scenarios to make the email newsletter more readable and useful in a general sense. Obviously, that creates the risk that slight variations on the facts, to a learned reader, may give rise to a different analysis and conclusion.