Multijurisdictional Practice Committee
At the request of the American Bar Association Commission on Multijurisdictional Practice of Law (the "Commission"), the Louisiana State Bar Association ("LSBA") formed a special committee on multijurisdictional practice (the "Committee") to research, study and report on the application of current ethics and bar admission rules in Louisiana to the multijurisdictional practice of law. As requested by the Commission, the Committee has been analyzing the impact of Louisiana's rules on the practices of in-house counsel, transactional lawyers, litigators, arbitrators and on lawyers and law firms maintaining offices and practicing in multiple state and federal jurisdictions. The Committee is in the process of developing policy recommendations for Louisiana concerning the multijurisdictional practice of law that best serves the public interest. While the Committee has by no means completed its research, study and evaluation, the Committee submits this preliminary report concerning its views with respect to various alternative approaches to multijurisdictional practice.
The following are the preliminary observations of the Committee:
1. The primary law in Louisiana affecting multijurisdictional practice is Louisiana's unauthorized practice of law statute which has been in effect for over 50 years with only minor amendments since its original enactment. As a consequence, any change in Louisiana with respect to its approach to multijurisdictional practice will necessarily require action on the part of the Louisiana legislature.
2. The Committee recognizes the need for change in Louisiana concerning multijurisdictional practice. It is the view of the Committee that the existing Louisiana statute is overbroad and should be amended to either narrow the scope of the statute or provide for a detailed list of exceptions to the statute's application. The Committee finds that, in a number of respects, the existing statute, through its breadth, could be interpreted to prohibit certain aspects of the multijurisdictional practice of law which should be permissible and are, as a matter of practice, regularly engaged in within the State of Louisiana by attorneys licensed in other states.
3. The Committee does not favor the unbridled practice of law within the State of Louisiana by persons admitted to practice elsewhere through national registration or reciprocity. Therefore, the Committee does not favor the "removal of state boundaries" as an important consideration for the right to practice law in Louisiana. The primary concern from the standpoint of the Committee is the protection of the public. In the last two decades, the Supreme Court of Louisiana and the lawyers of the state have adopted substantial changes in the state's disciplinary procedures and requirements for admission to the State Bar to better protect the interests of the public. These changes have been achieved through great effort and expense on the part of the members of the Supreme Court and the Louisiana Bar. Moreover, Louisiana is a civil law jurisdiction. As a consequence, the substantive and procedural laws of the State of Louisiana are considerably different than those of other states in many respects. Thus, the Committee does not believe that it can adequately serve the interests of the public by simply allowing the unrestricted practice of law within the State of Louisiana by persons who hold a license from any other state.
4. The Committee does favor the adoption of a change in the laws of Louisiana to permit in-house counsel not licensed in the State of Louisiana to engage in the practice of law within the State of Louisiana upon registration and subject to certain restrictions and requirements. The Committee is still in the process of evaluating and developing the particulars of such a proposal.
5. The Committee also favors a law that permits the temporary practice of law in the State of Louisiana by persons not licensed in Louisiana in both transactional and litigation matters, so long as there are specific standards adopted and clear prohibitions against any such practice on a permanent basis. The Committee is still in the process of evaluating and developing the particulars of such a proposal.
6. The Committee is of the view that anyone practicing law in the State of Louisiana, either as in-house counsel or on a temporary basis, should be subject to the disciplinary rules of the State of Louisiana and measures should be adopted to ensure that such a requirement may be practically implemented and enforced. The Committee is still in the process of evaluating and developing the particulars of such a proposal.
The Committee's principle purpose in submitting this preliminary report is to voice the Committee's opposition to any proposal that would include a national licensing process, a national motion admission or the adoption of state rules that would entitle a lawyer admitted in any state to basically practice law in any other state. Short of such far-reaching suggestions, the Committee is prepared to consider other reasonable proposals in its continuing research and study of the complicated issues relating to the multijurisdictional practice of law. To that end, the Committee is very interested in participating in the formulation of recommendations to be ultimately submitted to the ABA by the Commission.