More Jurisdictions Adopt Admission by Motion Rules
In a mobile society like ours, it is not uncommon for lawyers to move across state lines or to practice in multiple jurisdictions. In recognition, more jurisdictions are amending their Admission by Motion rules (often referred to as reciprocity rules) to allow experienced lawyers to waive into the bar instead of sitting for the bar exam of that jurisdiction.
The American Bar Association's Model Rule on Admission by Motion states that an attorney seeking admission on motion must:
- be admitted to practice law in another state, territory, or the District of Columbia;
- hold a J.D. or LL.B. degree from a law school approved by the Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar of the American Bar Association at the time the applicant matriculated or graduated;
- have been primarily engaged in the active practice of law in one or more states, territories or the District of Columbia for three of the five years immediately preceding the date upon which the application is filed;
- establish that the applicant is currently a member in good standing in all jurisdictions where admitted;
- establish that the applicant is not currently subject to lawyer discipline or the subject of a pending disciplinary matter in any jurisdiction;
- establish that the applicant possesses the character and fitness to practice law in this jurisdiction; and
- designate the Clerk of the jurisdiction's highest court for service of process.
Notably, the ABA's Model Rule on Admission by Motion was amended in August 2012 to reduce the number of years an applicant must have practiced law to three years, from five. As an additional requirement, many jurisdictions require reciprocity for admission on motion: that is, the jurisdiction in which the attorney is currently licensed also must allow attorneys from the jurisdiction in which the attorney is seeking to be licensed to be admitted by motion.
While at least 39 jurisdictions already have adopted some form of an Admission by Motion rule, others, like New Mexico, are considering changes to their admission rules to allow for admission by motion. Still others are amending their rules to relax their requirements; Virginia is considering amendments to its rule so that it more closely mirrors the requirements set forth in the ABA Model Rule on Admission by Motion. Connecticut and New York recently expanded their Admission by Motion rules to make it easier for attorneys to seek admission based on reciprocity.
All of this is good news for lawyers whose career or personal lives necessitate relocation.
Cara E. Greene is a partner at Outten & Golden LLP, where she represents employees, partners and lawyers in litigation and negotiation in all areas of employment and partnership law, including executive and professional contracts and compensation; disability, pregnancy, and family responsibilities discrimination; and class actions. She is the Employee Co-Chair of the Section's Ethics and Professional Responsibility Committee, and is also a member of the Employment Rights & Responsibilities Committee.
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