February 12, 2018 Articles

The Uncertain Future of Virtual Law Practice in the Wake of Schoenefeld

How will Schoenefeld and other similarly situated nonresident New York-barred attorneys proceed in the face of the enduring roadblock of New York Judiciary Law Section 470?

By Kaitlin J. Kline and Jacqueline M. Pasek

On April 17, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court denied Ekaterina Schoenefeld’s petition for a writ of certiorari, ending a nearly decade-long legal battle against New York Judiciary Law Section 470. Schoenefeld v. Schneiderman, 137 S. Ct. 1580 (2017). Schoenefeld’s crusade has been the subject of prior articles. See also Schoenefeld’s firm website, complete with section detailing the case and providing links to briefs and opinions.

As our readers may recall, the law at issue states that "[a] person, regularly admitted to practice as an attorney and counselor, in the courts of record of this state, whose office for the transaction of law business is within the state, may practice as such attorney or counselor, although he resides in an adjoining state." N.Y. Jud. Law ยง 470 (2016). As written, the law requires a nonresident New York-barred attorney to maintain an “office for the transaction of law business within the state.” Schoenefeld (who is both a New Jersey- and New York-barred attorney) maintains her home and office in New Jersey. In 2008, after hearing about section 470’s requirements for out-of-state attorneys during a New York CLE program, she filed a complaint in federal court challenging the constitutionality of the law. Her argument was simple: By requiring nonresident New York-barred lawyers to maintain a brick-and-mortar office in the state of New York but not requiring the same of those residing within the state, the law violates the Privileges and Immunities Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

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