Moving: Although it can mean exciting new opportunities, it also signals at least some amount of upheaval, expense, and heavy lifting. When lawyers move and plan to practice law in a new jurisdiction, they face an additional, daunting hurdle. They must seek admission to the bar of the new jurisdiction, which is an expensive and time-consuming prospect. Despite these hurdles in today’s legal marketplace, moving across jurisdictional lines is not uncommon. The legal job market remains uncertain, and many lawyers are willing to look out of state for new opportunities.
Relocation is not the only reason that a lawyer may seek admission in another jurisdiction. The ABA Commission on Ethics 20/20 acknowledges that technology and globalization “continue to transform the legal marketplace, with more clients confronting legal problems that cross jurisdictional lines and more lawyers needing to respond to those client needs by crossing borders (including virtually) and relocating to new jurisdictions.” ABA Commission on Ethics 20/20, Introduction and Overview to Commission Proposals, at 3 (Aug. 2012).
In August 2012, the ABA House of Delegates adopted revisions to the Model Rules of Professional Conduct and, along with them, the Model Rule on Practice Pending Admission. The new rule seeks to ease the challenges associated with changing jurisdictions by allowing a lawyer who is “license[d] to practice law in another U.S. jurisdiction and who has been engaged in the active practice of law for three of the last five years” to practice law in a new jurisdiction for a period of up to 365 days, provided that the lawyer meets several conditions. See Model Rule on Practice Pending Admission (as adopted Aug. 6, 2012). This new rule builds on the foundation laid by the ABA Model Rule on Admission by Motion, which provides that a lawyer seeking admission to a new jurisdiction may be admitted upon motion (rather than through the bar examination process) if the lawyer is in good standing in another U.S. jurisdiction and, among other things, has been “engaged in the active practice of law” for three of the past five years. See Model Rule on Admission by Motion (as amended Aug. 6, 2012).