Popular Threads - December 2019

A Checklist for Those Newly in Practice

I had lunch with a young lawyer today. After having practice criminal law both as a public defender and as a prosecutor, he has decided to open his own criminal defense practice.

He asked: what do I have to do to get started?

We started to make a list: 1. lease office space, 2. bank accounts, 3.

Business cards, etc.

Then, I thought, maybe we could create a list here on Solosez.

Thanks.

Roger M. Rosen, California

I think there is a book or two from the ABA (Jay Foonberg) that does exactly that . . ..

Walter D. James III, Texas

Roger,

So thankful for mentors like you, taking time to help lawyers entering private practice.

Val Loumber, California

Actually, Jay F. Is offering free pdf copy of his 6th edition of How to start and build a law practice, send email to htsab6thed@gmail.com and he will send you a copy. 

Ronald Jones, Florida

Thanks for the Foonberg tips. Good ideas.

Roger M. Rosen

I bought and read the foonberg book back in 2003 when I started my firm.

Great tips many I still use. 

Anthony Minchella, Connecticut

Bought and read the Foonberg book also. A good investment. One piece of advice - sometimes hard to follow - that still rings in my ears is: "better to not do the work and not get paid than to do the work and not get paid."

Watch those red flags.

John Leonard

Jay Foonberg is currently offering his book for free on LinkedIn and Facebook. I follow him on both platforms.

Ryan Young

Yes, and I mentioned this last Friday, late so a bunch of people may have missed it;  Simply send email to  htsab6thed@gmail.com with your name and he'll send you a free PDF copy of his latest edition.

I know Foonberg has been criticized as a bit dated but I really think it is very good basic book on opening and running a law practice; you can take his advice or leave it but it will help you from having to reinvent the wheel. 

Ronald Jones

I agree that *some* of the info in Foonberg's book is a bit dated. I remember thinking the same when I read it 10 years ago. He seems like a pretty nice guy. I offered constructive criticism to him on Facebook and he responded promptly. Overall, the book is solid and has great advice.

Readers can choose what they want to disregard, tweak, or follow.

Ryan Young

On #1 above (Office Space), I'd say sublease from an established attorney who can advise, through your business from time to time, and possibly share admin resources (printing, copying, etc.).

Other: Monthly (weekly/daily) analytics on your business performance comparable to your goals.

Bob Arnold

I forget what edition I read, it would have been in 1997; I did ask for and receive most current copy ( for Free!) and I have to say, it has been greatly expanded, it had been IIRC about 300 pages and is now about 750 or so. 

 He discusses a bunch of things that come up again and again amongst newbie (and even more experienced) lawyers on this list; getting paid, managing client expectations, managing files, setting fees, how to present settlement offers, whether you should work for someone else first, office location.

 His bit on websites is to be honest a bit thin, really thin; on the other hand he does suggest "ABA book The Lawyer’s Guide to Marketing on the Internet, Second Edition, by Gregory H. Siskind, Deborah McMurray, and Richard P. Klau". 

 If you have never looked at the book it's worth getting a copy. You can take some of the advice with a grain of salt but there's lots of stuff in there that is potentially useful. 

 Ronald Jones

The Foonberg book is mandatory, absolutely great. As others have said, there's no reason to reinvent the wheel, and 90%+ of the advice in there is still applicable.

The best piece of advice I ever received as a new lawyer was that the cases you don't take matter just as much as the ones you do. In the early days when you're really hustling/scrambling for work the temptation will be to take anything that comes your way. Listen to your gut and avoid problem clients that will surely lead to malpractice suits or bar complaints.

Probably the number one red flag in this area is if you're lawyer #3, #4, or #5. I once had a PC leave me a voicemail stating they wanted me to take over their case and then sue their current attorney. Haha, off to the Florida Bar Referral Network you go.

Another good thing is to find a mentor or at least a sounding board (SoloSez is a fantastic start in this direction). The hardest thing about solo practice in my opinion is if I hit something new I can't stick my head out the door and yell down to a more experienced attorney to come take a look at this. And even if the person you're talking to is equally inexperienced, it's still helpful to be able to just bounce ideas off someone. My experience as a solo ended up with me kind of beginning to turtle in on myself and neglect building relationships with other lawyers a few years in (and I had pretty good reasons for this...first kid being born, general life stuff). I've just recently started putting my time and effort into networking again locally and the payoff has been tremendous.

You've absolutely got to get out there and get your face and name out.

Bryce Davis

MyShingle.com has a bunch of resources on starting a firm, including a free online course with checklist built in - https://www.udemy.com/course/launching-a-successful-21st-century-law-practice/learn/lecture/558606#overview.

Other resources are here as well as 152 free tools for starting a firm https://myshingle.com/148-free-tools-to-start-and-grow-a-law-firm/

https://myshingle.com/resources/startalawfirm/

Carolyn Elefant, District of Columbia

I had a great one, but it's outdated. Should I find it and send it to anyone who wants it?

Andrea Goldman, Massachusetts

Disposing of Old Law Books

Happy Saturday!

I have three giant boxes of old law books that were relevant for about 45 minutes after I paid full price for them, about 15 years ago. Aside from recycling them or holding a ceremonial cathartic bonfire, what have you done to get rid of these things?

Many photographers and interior decorators will pay a little for them. They look great in photographs and in interior designs. 

Robert "Robby" W. Hughes, Jr., Georgia

I recycled ours.

Marilou Auer, Virginia (not a lawyer)

"With but a single stroke of the legislative pen, entire libraries turn to pulp."

-- Friedrich K. Juenger (1930-2001) (my conflicts professor)

L. Maxwell Taylor, Vermont

If you have a Half Price Books store, they’ll take them. They take everything. You probably won’t get more than a couple of dollars for them, and they might end up recycling them in the end. Downside is, you have to drag them in to the store and you have to stay in the store while they review your stuff and make you an offer. You cannot leave and come back later. You have to stay. Of course, they’re hoping you’ll find something to buy while hanging around in there. They’ll make you an offer for your whole “lot” of stuff — no breakdown value of individual items. If you accept the offer, they give you a receipt that can be used as store credit, or you can take it to the cashier and cash it out. I do it because I just can’t bring myself to put an actual book in my recycling bin. Even though they may ultimately recycle it, I don’t have to see it. And, I can pretend that my books made it into the shelves and found new homes with some curious person, or, at least, as Robby said, as decor somewhere.

Meg Tebo, Illinois

A friend of mine took them to a shooting range and put a bunch of bullet holes in them. But I probably wouldn't recommend that in general.

Eugene Lee, California

Local library or Salvation Army for a tax deductible donation.

Roger Rosen, California

Watch the movie "the day after tomorrow." It's been on HBO a lot lately.

Save them so you can do what they did to the books in the library....including the IRS Code.....when the time comes. 

Joseph G. Bonanno, Massachusetts

I just donated mine to a non-profit that tries to resell them, but if they can’t, they recycle them. Good luck! 

Jennifer D. Norris, Indiana

A friend of mine who decorates Hollywood sets says there's a FB group called "union art department" - give them a shout-out.

Amy Breyer, California

Donate them to your local library. You may be able to write it off and the library can make a few dollars. I buy used legal books from our library all the time.

J. Calhoun

I love the idea of donating to a local library.

I also have seen 6 or 8 stacked up, glued and used for an end table.

They're very impressive looking that way.

Reta McKannan, Alabama

A totally politically incorrect approach First dig a 4 ft by 6 foot 2 ft deep pit As you carefully place each book sprinkling with a liberal amount of odorless mineral spirits some on the pages some on the cover repeat till all the books are in the pit. Now go take a shower and change your clothes (Safety first, now om the upwind side using the longest matches you can get, light it up. Time to roast the marshmallows if the quantity of books is large perhaps a suckling pig. It's unlikely you have enough to roast an ox.

John Davidson, Pennsylvania

You could always send them to me. I know different institutions that will use them depending on what kind of books they are.

680 Missionunit 12aSan Francisco 94105

Jordan Rosenberg (a paralegal)

Take them to your / a nearby law school. For distro to new grads.

Larry A. Frost, Minnesota

I recycled the ones I don't use. Our local library does not take out of date textbooks, so check your library's donation requirements before heading over. If you have a local arts college, you might also reach out to them or put them on freecycle to see if anyone is interested.

Corrine Bielejeski, California

eCards – Yes or No?

Hey all,

Just checking in with the gang to see if people's opinions have changed on ecards. Yes or no?

I've been sending them to clients in the past, but I'm now wondering if I should spring for snail mail holiday cards this year.

I am sort of a belt and suspenders type of guy on this one. We send hard cards to many of our clients and referral sources and also send an e-card to most of the people in our Outlook address book.

However, I do have an ulterior motive. After I send out the e-cards, I get a double handful of responses telling me the e-mail addresses I used were no longer valid and during the post-Christmas lull, I clean out my address book, removing the invalid addresses.

John Martin Miles, Georgia

Another take on "handwritten" cards

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2019/12/21/art-imperfection-people-are-turning-robots-write-their-handwritten-cards/

Deb Matthews, Virginia

I remember the first time I got a letter with "handwritten" script on the letter and envelope. Stared at it for a good long while. When I was finally sure it was not actual pen and handwriting, I was just sorta annoyed at how much time I spent staring and it definitely did not persuade me to buy whatever it was they were selling.

Amy Breyer, California

I tend to not open eCards. I open every snail mail card.

I mail Thanksgiving cards. I write the person's name and a brief greeting and my staff signs each of the 500 cards. Clients and referral sources will email me thank yous.

Deb Matthews

Agree with Deb. Nothing says "I spent as little time on this as possible" like an e-card. I know it's old school, but I like the lush, embossed cards at www.gallerycollection.com. If you can get your order in fairly early, it's not too expensive. If I really like the client, I send a multi-flavor popcorn tin, cookies or similar. Favorite is www.cheryls.com. 

Amy A. Breyer

We send traditional Christmas cards every year, although each year we whittle down the list. It doesn't happen very often, but every once in a while a client will specifically mention that they received and appreciated it. The cards I remember most are the ones where someone jots a quick note, even if it is just a sentence, rather than a robo-signed card or one with just the company name embossed on it with a generic message.

If I had an unlimited budget, I would send Kringles to everyone. A friend of mine used to get me one every holiday season. They were so delicious. They were devoured within minutes if I brought them into the office. My friend passed away a few years ago, and I can't remember the company that he would buy them from. I think it was from Racine, Wisconsin, but that doesn’t seem to narrow it down.

Michael J. Polk

Personally, I get a little annoyed by e-cards. It's like saying "I only give a partial #@$% about you." At least, that's how I feel when I get them from family. I've never gotten e-cards from professional acquaintances. I'd almost rather get nothing than an e-card.

Ryan Young, Virginia

Mike, I'm also a big fan of Kringles. Here's the website:

https://www.kringle.com/

Andrew C. McDannold, Florida

 

I emailed Mike separately, but Mr McDonald's email prompted this public response.

As a Racine, WI, native, I posit quite strongly that the only acceptable kringle is O&H Bakery kringle. If you're not in Wisconsin, you can get O&H kringle online and at Trader Joe's.

Please note, I am not affiliated with any kringle company and get no benefit from recommending one kringle over another. If they could pay me in kringle, though, I'd be in O&H's pocket in a heartbeat.

Also, de gustibus non est disputandem, so YMMV.

Andrew Wentzell, Florida

I also tend to think less of people who send e-cards than those who send nothing at all.

Bert Krages, Oregon

There are a number of malware exploits that use e-cards. I delete e-cards without viewing them due to risk factor.

Darrell G. Stewart, Texas

Just read this interesting article:

Greeting Cards Are Still A Thing In The Digital Age. Thanks, Millennials https://www.npr.org/2019/02/14/691963430/greeting-cards-are-still-a-thing-in-the-digital-age-thanks-millennials

Eugene Lee, California

Yes, I can understand that. I had a client really tell me off for sending her an ecard last year. I was surprised by the strength of her displeasure.

On the other hand, I did get some nice thank yous and more than a few case referrals for a total of $5 investment. I may employ a hybrid / multi-tier approach this year to see if that produces better results. But to be clear, I'm looking at this strictly from an ROI perspective - balancing the business revenue generated against the costs and time required.

Eugene Lee

eCards are a millennial's way of trying to be engaging. It is bullsh*t in my opinion. If you care enough about someone to communicate with them, then take the time to show you truly thought about what you were doing rather than hit a send button to whoever is on your contacts list. 

Robert "Robby" W. Hughes, Jr., Georgia

I think people appreciate physical cards more and the chances of them not even noticing an ecard is high.

Lesley A. Hoenig, Michigan

Pretty sure Millenials are as uninterested in ecards as literally everyone else.

Lesley A. Hoenig

I thought I would report back to the group on my results.

I sent out roughly 1,200 ecards 3 days ago. So far, around 320 recipients have opened them. I've gotten about 5 nice, complimentary thank you replies. No angry replies so far. One client told me he doesn't click on links in emails and that's why he didn't open my ecard. But he didn't seem offended or upset by the ecard. Pretty anecdotal results, I admit, but this is all I've got.

Total cost for the cards was $0 (don't ask me how, there was some kind of glitch). Total time spent, about 1.5 hours. It's only been 3 days so no referrals generated yet that I've identified. We'll see though.

I also did send out traditional cards and gifts to a select few. Those got enthusiastic thank you responses, which isn't all that surprising considering the cost and time involved. However, this method generated a referral already.

Interesting times we live in. . .

Eugene Lee

I sent out electronic cards for a few years, but gave it up because it elicited pretty much zero response. Here's the thing about such gestures--if it doesn't take any effort on your part it's not going to be perceived as thoughtful by the recipient. Facebook birthday wishes are a great example. It used to be that someone sending you a card--heck, even an email--on your birthday meant that they had taken the time to note your birthday someplace and at least compose a message for you on or around the appropriate day. Now, however, Facebook reminds you whose birthday it is every day. I have close to 1K friends on Facebook, and I get several hundred birthday greetings on my birthday--but for many of those posters, that's the only interaction I have with them all year. If I never heard from you except for a two-word "Happy Birthday" wish that maybe took you 3 or 4 seconds to send (and that FB prompted you to send), I'm not going to think you think I'm all that special. That's especially true in a business context where the underlying assumption is that your real goal is to make sure you remember I'm around.

Kevin Grierson, Virginia

Thanks for sharing your results so far, Gene.

Noel French, Michigan

As I said before, I am a belt and suspenders guy on this. My e-mail server limited me to 250 per day so it takes about four days to send all of the e-cards. Then my project is to take all of the notices from mail postmaster that the addresses are bad and clean out my contacts list. I try to find an excuse to send some sort of e-mail to my contact list about three or four times a year, just to keep my name in front of my clients and prospects and referers.

In the second batch of e-cards, I got a response from a client I hadn’t heard from in over five years and he is coming in between Christmas and New Years to form an LLC and the related documents like buy-sells and probably a will update. All in all a good return on less than an hour’s time so far and I am only through the L’s.

John Miles

Ha! I was just thinking of this thread yesterday. A family member sent me an ecard. I just deleted it without reading. This same person also sends chain emails. You know, the ones from the 90s that say you'll get good luck if you pass it on to 10 people.

Ryan Young

As an elder law / estate planning / probate attorney, my clientele consisted mostly of Baby Boomers and older., and, with the exception of our sons and their, our friends and relatives are also all Baby Boomers and older - all from the "Tactile Generations". So, we still send only the old-fashioned kind of holiday greeting cards, even to our sons and their wives and the grandchildren.

Even the grandchildren like the old-fashioned cards. Or maybe it's the $2 bills that we put inside them. (I hope they never learn about Bit Coin!).

Rod Klafehn, New York

Instant Messaging in the Office

Does anyone use a messaging app to communicate with staff during the workday? I have been trying to use Google Hangouts, but abandoned it for various reasons.

What about Slack or Teams? I don't need bells and whistles, such as project management. We use Trello for that. I just want a simple messaging app that (a) would also work from a mobile device and (b) provides a noticeable - but not super intrusive - notification on the computer screen (not just an audible alert, as we usually don't have our sound turned on).

Thanks!

We use Slack---free version. No need (so far) for anything else.

Hope this helps!

Dave Rakowksi, Pennsylvania

Does your case management system not have a provision for that? In Amicus, you can send "sticky notes" back and forth; they may be attached to a matter or a contact if you wish.

They pop up on the user's screen if they're logged in; if not, they pop up the next time they log in. Unless affirmatively deleted, they persist in the database.

Richard J. Rutledge, Jr., North Carolina

I have Clio and I'm not aware of such a feature - but it sounds perfect.

Marshall D. Chriswell, Pennsylvania

We use mysms - works with our mobile phones too.

Eugene Lee, California

We use Skype mostly - not only to communicate within the office, but also to staff working remotely, and even other solos who are friends of mine.

It's a great way to 'bounce stuff off' a colleague, or just make plans for social time after work.

Though one co-worker has been using Discord. I'm usually logged into both because I use Skype for 'down the street' colleagues and Discord for my son, who won't reliably use anything else.

Cynthia Hannah-White, Hawaii

Teams comes with 0365. We use it extensively and it’s great for remote team members.

Michele Allinotte, Ontario, Canada

Slack if you/your staff like to use it. I had a hard time getting it used for the Virtual Bar Assn. No one really adopted to it. That said, if you want something you already own (and pay for)(and if you get Pro/Enterprise should remain private data to your biz only) Teams in O355 <- but I haven't tried that myself (yet).

Let us know what you decide and if ya like it!

Andrea Cannavina, nope notta

We've been using SideNotes for 10-15 years. Very simple installation and easy to use.

Don't know if a newer version would support mobile devices.

David Masters, Colorado

We use Hangouts and haven't had a problem. I'd be interested in learning why you ditched it. Maybe I'm missing something.

Gina Bongiovi, Nevada

There was nothing inherently wrong with Hangouts. The problem is that, although I use Google Apps for business, I have my work email funneled through my personal gmail account. So I have my personal email open on my screen at all times rather than the work account. Hangouts won't "forward" to my personal account, so I had to keep both open in my browser, which causes funny things to happen (automatic log-outs, etc) when using Google Apps.

Thank you all for the recommendations. I am going to try Slack and see how it goes.

Marshall D. Chriswell

Also, my 8x8 VOIP desktop softphone app includes IM and video chatting, but I’ve never used it beyond testing. As such, it would extend to EEs with extensions remotely logged in via iOS and Android devices.

Richard J. Rutledge, Jr.

All great suggestions! Some I had not known about. I'll throw my $0.02 in --- check out Squiggle. It's free and open-source - very minimalist, compact, and not at all intrusive.

E. Seth Combs, Esq., Kentucky

Membership in U.S. District Courts

Does one need to be a member of the state where a US District Court or can a bar member from another state be admitted into US District Court in another state? I always thought you had to be a member of the Tennessee Bar to be admitted to the US District Court in Tennessee. But someone told me today that wasn't the case. I could get admitted to any federal court as long as I am a bar member somewhere.

I can't speak to TN in particular, but generally, it's a hodgepodge. Some districts do have that requirement, others don't.

James S. Tyre, California

I believe that this is up to the District Courts in each district. I am not aware of any District Courts that permit admissions by attorneys who not members of the state bar where the district is located, other than pro hac vice status, but you can usually find the exact requirements in the local rules or admission procedures. For example, the US District Court for the District of Oregon permits attorneys who are not members of the Oregon State bar to be admitted only as pro hac vice.

I believe there are a few districts that allow for pro hac vice admission without having to retain local counsel. I recall vaguely that the Northern District of Alabama is one of them and was told that pro hac vice admission without local counsel is up to the discretion of the individual judges in the Southern District of New York.

Bert Krages, Oregon

Generally, that is true to my understanding. We have federal only practitioners here that are not members of the Texas bar. Local rules in federal court may have variances, but otherwise I see it as a common matter.

Darrell G. Stewart, Texas

N.D. TX, which I just checked more or less, randomly, is one district that allows admission without requiring the lawyer to be a member of the TX bar. I believe that there are about a dozen others, though I haven't done an exact canvass.

James S. Tyre

Both the Eastern and Western districts of Virginia, at least, require that you be a member in good standing of the Virginia State Bar to join.

Kevin Grierson, Virginia

It depends on the court.

Imtiaz A Siddiqui, Louisiana

It is my understanding that the District of Colorado is one federal court that allows full admission (not pro hac vice) to its bar without being licensed in the State of Colorado.

Imtiaz A. Siddiqui

Jim, thanks.

I once assisted on a case that was pending in the N.D. of Texas but didn't realize the possibility of getting admitted. Maybe other members of list could add to the list of districts where one does not need to be a member of the bar of the state.

Bert Krages

Maybe a particular federal court allows an attorney to be admitted to practice in that court, without being a member of that State's bar, and not just for pro hac status, but maybe that State's bar might not look favorably upon a lawyer who so acts.

I don't think you could get away with that in CA, even if one of our District Courts allowed it.

Roger Rosen, California

Roger,

A state bar has no right or authority to regulate the terms under which one can be admitted to practice in federal court.

But no worries about our fair state. None of our 4 federal districts allow admission unless one is a member of the CA State Bar. We try to keep out the riff-raff. '-)

James S. Tyre

The federal courts, like federal agencies, get to determine who practices before them--you don't even have to be a lawyer admitted anywhere if the agency so determines. The states don't have a say in that. See Sperry v.

Florida. https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/373/379/

Kevin Grierson

I agree that California takes some of the most unreasonable positions when its residents seek the help of an out-of-state attorney to help resolve their legal matters, but it does acknowledge that UPL does not apply to a licensed attorney who is working on matters involving federal jurisdiction. For example, an out-of-state attorney may permissibly send or respond to a demand letter alleging copyright infringement because copyright infringement suits can only be filed in federal court.

But may God help a California resident who wants to have a trusted out-of-state attorney, who is a highly experienced commercial litigator with reasonable rates, write a letter to a California company in an attempt to resolve a straightforward and minor contract issue.

Bert Krages

Every district has its own rules. Some require admission to the state, some don't. If the federal courts I'm admitted to (all districts in Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota) I think only Minnesota requires admission to the state bar

Lesley Hoenig, Michigan

There is, at least, a sixth circuit opinion that states a state can't discipline a member of a federal district for upl by practicing only in that federal court. So, the state night like it, but it is the district that had the ability to discipline an attorney, not the state when it comes to activity if a federal district Court

Lesley Hoenig

The local rules vary widely. In the cases of Delaware and Nevada, a lawyer who is admitted to the bar of that state and who has been admitted to the federal bar of that state cannot appear without resident local counsel in a case unless the lawyer has an office in that state. Move out of state and lack an office in the jurisdiction, you need a local. In NDTX and NDOK, a non-resident member of the district court bar still needs to obtain leave to proceed with local counsel. We always file a motion for such leave in these districts with a history of prior cases in which we have acted without a bar member who is resident in that district. 

I believe that the only jurisdiction that still requires a federal bar exam to be admitted is the District of Puerto Rico. Interestingly, one need not be a member of the PR commonwealth bar to obtain admission to federal court. SDFL and WDTX used to require a local bar exam, but no longer do so. A few districts require a cle course for those who have never been admitted to federal court in that state. The SBFL requires that a lawyer admitted in that court take a certain number of bankruptcy CLE hours to remain active after admission.

The final oddity that we have encountered is a local sponsorship requirement. The prospective admittee to the federal district court bar needs a sponsor who is admitted to that court in order to qualify for admission. In a few cases, the sponsor must appear in court with the prospective admittee to so move for admission of the applicant. Provincialism is alive and well in some federal district courts. 

Craig A. Stokes, Texas

This is my least favorite requirement of Federal Admission (state bar membership in the same state as the Federal Court).

Remember the guy who mouthed off to EDNY Judge Denny Chin last week and go escorted out? He was complaining about the admission requirements (inappropriately so in his case), but Judge Weinstein said the 1-year-personal-knowledge requirement of a sponsor was likely unconstitutional.

I was thinking the same about the state bar membership requirement. Why do I have to be a member of the NY State Bar to practice copyright law in EDNY or SDNY? I'm already admitted and in good standing in WDNY and NDNY.

Nothing about being NY State admitted would make me a better copyright lawyer.

I believe these "extra" requirements are protectionist and unconstitutional. As Judge Weistein cited in the district court opinion in that case, “The practice of law is not a matter of grace, but of right for one who is qualified by his learning and his moral character.” Baird v.

State Bar of Arizona, 401 U.S. 1, 8 (1971).

Just my thoughts. I love hearing your thoughts and opinions as well.

Leonard J. French

I know of two people who practiced before Fed District Court in PA while suspended/disbarred by PA. Point being, if you're a member of a District Court, perhaps you need not be a member of any state bar.

Russ Carmichael, Pennsylvania

Practiced, yes, I can see how they could get there. But I doubt they would be admitted to a new Federal District while not in good standing with one or more current admissions.

Leonard J. French

It depends on the court -- some will be fine with pro hac vice admission to a particular case (with a local counsel involved). I know California federal courts require CA bar admission to be admitted -- sort of like the Hotel California in reverse :)

I am a member of the Eastern Michigan district, but no MI bar admission. My partner is in MA district court. That being said, I would be very mindful of any UPL requirements in the state that might be tripped up if you take an action in their state (there is usually a statutory exemption for federal LAW practice only - but diversity jurisdiction is under state law practice typically).

Murtaza Sutarwalla, Texas

“I know of two people who practiced before Fed District Court in PA while suspended/disbarred by PA.”

That’s an interesting side-note to the issue of admission to federal court. While most (all?) federal courts have some sort of requirement to be admitted to the bar of the court, few address the inverse—the ability to disbar someone once admitted.

For example, Fred Phelps (founder of Westboro Baptist Church—the group that protests outside soldiers’ funerals) was originally a well-respected civil-rights attorney in Kansas, he eventually was disbarred by the Kansas Supreme Court (for reasons I won’t go into), but continued to practice before the District of Kansas. They had no mechanism to disbar an attorney once admitted (even if the attorney was not licensed by any state).

In his case, the chickens eventually came home to roost, and he resigned his rights to practice in D.Kans. as part of a settlement.

Brian H. Cole, California

The district can come up with a way to disbar. I know someone who was suspended in Michigan and was also suspended in both districts. Eventually he was allowed to resume practicing, but to this day he still cannot practice in Western District of Michigan.

Lesley Hoenig

I’m just getting involved in a pro bono case in New York, not even sure what district yet, but the other out of state attorney told me we could register as members in that District. 

Larry A. Frost, Minnesota