Rule 5.5. Unauthorized Practice of Law: Multijurisdictional Practice of Law

(a) A lawyer shall not practice law [in a jurisdiction] in violation of the regulation of the legal profession in that jurisdiction, or assist another in doing so.

(b) A lawyer who is not admitted to practice in this jurisdiction shall not:

(1) except as authorized by these Rules or other law, establish an office or other systematic and continuous presence in this jurisdiction for the practice of law; or

(2) hold out to the public or otherwise represent that the lawyer is admitted to practice law in this jurisdiction.

(c) A lawyer admitted in another United States jurisdiction, and not disbarred or suspended from practice in any jurisdiction, may provide legal services on a temporary basis in this jurisdiction that:

(1) are undertaken in association with a lawyer who is admitted to practice in this jurisdiction and who actively participates in the matter;

(2) are in or reasonably related to a pending or potential proceeding before a tribunal in this or another jurisdiction, if the lawyer, or a person the lawyer is assisting, is authorized by law or order to appear in such proceeding or reasonably expects to be so authorized;

(3) are in or reasonably related to a pending or potential arbitration, mediation, or other alternative dispute resolution proceeding in this or another jurisdiction, if the services arise out of or are reasonably related to the lawyer’s practice in a jurisdiction in which the lawyer is admitted to practice and are not services for which the forum requires pro hac vice admission; or

(4) are not within paragraphs (c)(2) or (c)(3) and arise out of or are reasonably related to the lawyer’s practice in a jurisdiction in which the lawyer is admitted to practice.

(d) A lawyer admitted in another United States jurisdiction, and not disbarred or suspended from practice in any jurisdiction, may provide legal services in this jurisdiction that:

(1) are provided to the lawyer’s employer or its organizational affiliates and are not services for which the forum requires pro hac vice admission and that are provided by an attorney who has received a limited license to practice law pursuant to La. S. Ct. Rule XVII, § 14; or

(2) are services that the lawyer is authorized to provide by federal law or other law of this jurisdiction.

(e)(1) A lawyer shall not:

(i) employ, contract with as a consultant, engage as an independent contractor, or otherwise join in any other capacity, in connection with the practice of law, any person the attorney knows or reasonably should know is a disbarred attorney, during the period of disbarment, or any person the attorney knows or reasonably should know is an attorney who has permanently resigned from the practice of law in lieu of discipline; or

(ii) employ, contract with as a consultant, engage as an independent contractor, or otherwise join in any other capacity, in connection with the practice of law, any person the attorney knows or reasonably should know is a suspended attorney, or an attorney who has been transferred to disability inactive status during the period of suspension or transfer, unless first preceded by the submission of a fully executed employment registration statement to the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, on a registration form provided by the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board, and approved by the Louisiana Supreme Court.

(e)(2) The registration form provided for in Section (e)(1) shall include:

(i) The identity and bar roll number of the suspended or transferred attorney sought to be hired;

(ii) The identity and bar roll number of the attorney having direct supervisory responsibility over the suspended attorney, or the attorney transferred to disability inactive status, throughout the duration of employment or association;

(iii) A list of all duties and activities to be assigned to the suspended attorney, or the attorney transferred to disability inactive status, during the period of employment or association;

(iv) The terms of employment of the suspended attorney, or the attorney transferred to disability inactive status, including method of compensation;

(v) A statement by the employing attorney that includes a consent to random compliance audits, to be conducted by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, at any time during the employment or association of the suspended attorney or the attorney transferred to disability inactive status, and

(vi) A statement by the employing attorney certifying that the order giving rise to the suspension or transfer of the proposed employee has been provided for review and consideration in advance of employment by the suspended attorney, or the attorney transferred to disability inactive status.

(e)(3) For purposes of this Rule, the practice of law shall include the following activities:

(i) holding oneself out as an attorney or lawyer authorized to practice law;

(ii) rendering legal consultation or advice to a client;

(iii) appearing on behalf of a client in any hearing or proceeding, or before any judicial officer, arbitrator, mediator, court, public agency, referee, magistrate, commissioner, hearing officer, or governmental body operating in an adjudicative capacity, including submission of pleadings, except as may otherwise be permitted by law;

(iv) appearing as a representative of the client at a deposition or other discovery matter;

(v) negotiating or transacting any matter for or on behalf of a client with third parties;

(vi) otherwise engaging in activities defined by law or Supreme Court decision as constituting the practice of law.

(e)(4) In addition, a suspended lawyer, or a lawyer transferred to disability inactive status, shall not receive, disburse or otherwise handle client funds.

(e)(5) Upon termination of the suspended attorney, or the attorney transferred to disability inactive status, the employing attorney having direct supervisory authority shall promptly serve upon the Office of Disciplinary Counsel written notice of the termination.

Background

The Louisiana Supreme Court promulgated a major revision to this rule which became effective on April 1, 2005. This rule contains significant differences from ABA Model Rule 5.5, as discussed below.

Multijurisdictional Practice Provisions

In August 2002, the ABA adopted the sweeping changes to Model Rule 5.5 proposed by its Commission on Multijurisdictional Practice. Among other changes, the ABA in 2002 amended the title of Model Rule 5.5 to “Unauthorized Practice of Law; Multijurisdictional Practice of Law.”

The ABA adopted Model Rule 5.5(a) to provide that a lawyer may not practice law in a jurisdiction, or assist another in doing so, in violation of the regulations of the legal profession in that jurisdiction.

The ABA adopted Model Rule 5.5(b) to prohibit a lawyer from establishing an office or other systematic and continuous presence in a jurisdiction, unless permitted to do so by law, or by another provision of Rule 5.5. It also amended 5.5(b) to prohibit a lawyer from representing that he is admitted to practice law in a jurisdiction in which the lawyer is not admitted.

The ABA adopted Model Rule 5.5(c) to permit a lawyer in good standing to practice law on a temporary basis in another jurisdiction when the lawyer’s services are performed in active association with a lawyer admitted to practice law in the jurisdiction, when his services are ancillary to pending or prospective litigation or administrative agency proceedings in a state where the lawyer is admitted or expects to be admitted pro hac vice or is otherwise authorized to appear, when his services are performed in an alternative dispute resolution (“ADR”) setting, such as arbitration or mediation, and when his services involve non-litigation work that arise out of or are reasonably related to the lawyer’s practice in a jurisdiction in which the lawyer is admitted to practice.

Finally, it adopted Rule 5.5(d) to identify multijurisdictional practice standards relating to (i) legal services by a lawyer who is an employee of a client, and (ii) legal services that the lawyer is authorized by federal or other law or rule to render in a jurisdiction in which the lawyer is not licensed to practice law. See ABA Multijurisdictional Practice Committee, Client Representation in the 21st Century, Final Report (adopted August 12, 2002); see also ABA Ethics 20/20 Revisions in 2012 (tweaking language to clarify that “legal services” may be provided in a jurisdiction either “through an office or other systematic and continuous presence”).

The Louisiana Supreme Court did not adopt the revised version of Model Rule 5.5 in January 2004 because it chose to await a final report and recommendations from the LSBA Multijurisdictional Practice Committee. That committee concluded its work later in 2004 and recommended the verbatim adoption of ABA Model Rule 5.5. The court concurred, and effective April 1, 2005, the multijurisdictional practice provisions of this Rule are virtually identical to the ABA counterparts.[1] Note that unlike the model rule, however, the Louisiana Rule requires an in-house lawyer seeking to practice in this state to obtain “a limited license to practice law” pursuant to Louisiana Supreme Court Rule XVII, § 14. See La. Rule of Prof’l Conduct R. 5.5(d)(1) (2005). For the text of this in-house lawyer admission rule, see infra on page 14.

Dealing with Disbarred and Suspended Lawyers

Paragraph (e) of this rule is not found in the Model Rules. The Louisiana Supreme Court adopted the substance of these provisions in 2002 to preclude disbarred and suspended lawyers from skirting court-imposed disciplinary sanctions by participating in the practice of law in a purportedly paraprofessional capacity.

ABA Model Rule 5.5

(a) A lawyer shall not practice law in a jurisdiction in violation of the regulation of the legal profession in that jurisdiction, or assist another in doing so.

(b) A lawyer who is not admitted to practice in this jurisdiction shall not:

(1) except as authorized by these Rules or other law, establish an office or other systematic and continuous presence in this jurisdiction for the practice of law; or

(2) hold out to the public or otherwise represent that the lawyer is admitted to practice law in this jurisdiction.

(c) A lawyer admitted in another United States jurisdiction, and not disbarred or suspended from practice in any jurisdiction, may provide legal services on a temporary basis in this jurisdiction that:

(1) are undertaken in association with a lawyer who is admitted to practice in this jurisdiction and who actively participates in the matter;

(2) are in or reasonably related to a pending or potential proceeding before a tribunal in this or another jurisdiction, if the lawyer, or a person the lawyer is assisting, is authorized by law or order to appear in such proceeding or reasonably expects to be so authorized;

(3) are in or reasonably related to a pending or potential arbitration, mediation, or other alternative dispute resolution proceeding in this or another jurisdiction, if the services arise out of or are reasonably related to the lawyer’s practice in a jurisdiction in which the lawyer is admitted to practice and are not services for which the forum requires pro hac vice admission; or

(4) are not within paragraphs (c)(2) or (c)(3) and arise out of or are reasonably related to the lawyer’s practice in a jurisdiction in which the lawyer is admitted to practice.

(d) A lawyer admitted in another United States jurisdiction, and not disbarred or suspended from practice in any jurisdiction, may provide legal services in this jurisdiction that:

(1) are provided to the lawyer’s employer or its organizational affiliates and are not services for which the forum requires pro hac vice admission; or

(2) are services that the lawyer is authorized to provide by federal law or other law of this jurisdiction.

Comments to ABA Model Rule 5.5

[1] A lawyer may practice law only in a jurisdiction in which the lawyer is authorized to practice. A lawyer may be admitted to practice law in a jurisdiction on a regular basis or may be authorized by court rule or order or by law to practice for a limited purpose or on a restricted basis. Paragraph (a) applies to unauthorized practice of law by a lawyer, whether through the lawyer’s direct action or by the lawyer assisting another person. For example, a lawyer may not assist a person in practicing law in violation of the rules governing professional conduct in that person’s jurisdiction.

[2] The definition of the practice of law is established by law and varies from one jurisdiction to another. Whatever the definition, limiting the practice of law to members of the bar protects the public against rendition of legal services by unqualified persons. This Rule does not prohibit a lawyer from employing the services of paraprofessionals and delegating functions to them, so long as the lawyer supervises the delegated work and retains responsibility for their work. See Rule 5.3.

[3] A lawyer may provide professional advice and instruction to nonlawyers whose employment requires knowledge of the law; for example, claims adjusters, employees of financial or commercial institutions, social workers, accountants and persons employed in government agencies. Lawyers also may assist independent nonlawyers, such as paraprofessionals, who are authorized by the law of a jurisdiction to provide particular law-related services. In addition, a lawyer may counsel nonlawyers who wish to proceed pro se.

[4] Other than as authorized by law or this Rule, a lawyer who is not admitted to practice generally in this jurisdiction violates paragraph (b) if the lawyer establishes an office or other systematic and continuous presence in this jurisdiction for the practice of law. Presence may be systematic and continuous even if the lawyer is not physically present here. Such a lawyer must not hold out to the public or otherwise represent that the lawyer is admitted to practice law in this jurisdiction. See also Rules 7.1(a) and 7.5(b).

[5] There are occasions in which a lawyer admitted to practice in another United States jurisdiction, and not disbarred or suspended from practice in any jurisdiction, may provide legal services on a temporary basis in this jurisdiction under circumstances that do not create an unreasonable risk to the interests of their clients, the public or the courts. Paragraph (c) identifies four such circumstances. The fact that conduct is not so identified does not imply that the conduct is or is not authorized. With the exception of paragraphs (d)(1) and (d)(2), this Rule does not authorize a U.S. or foreign lawyer to establish an office or other systematic and continuous presence in this jurisdiction without being admitted to practice generally here.

[6] There is no single test to determine whether a lawyer’s services are provided on a “temporary basis” in this jurisdiction, and may therefore be permissible under paragraph (c). Services may be “temporary” even though the lawyer provides services in this jurisdiction on a recurring basis, or for an extended period of time, as when the lawyer is representing a client in a single lengthy negotiation or litigation.

[7] Paragraphs (c) and (d) apply to lawyers who are admitted to practice law in any United States jurisdiction, which includes the District of Columbia and any state, territory or commonwealth of the United States. Paragraph (d) also applies to lawyer’s admitted in a foreign jurisdiction. The word “admitted” in paragraph (c), (d) and (e) contemplates that the lawyer is authorized to practice in the jurisdiction in which the lawyer is admitted and excludes a lawyer who while technically admitted is not authorized to practice, because, for example, the lawyer is on inactive status.

[8] Paragraph (c)(1) recognizes that the interests of clients and the public are protected if a lawyer admitted only in another jurisdiction associates with a lawyer licensed to practice in this jurisdiction. For this paragraph to apply, however, the lawyer admitted to practice in this jurisdiction must actively participate in and share responsibility for the representation of the client.

[9] Lawyers not admitted to practice generally in a jurisdiction may be authorized by law or order of a tribunal or an administrative agency to appear before the tribunal or agency. This authority may be granted pursuant to formal rules governing admission pro hac vice or pursuant to informal practice of the tribunal or agency. Under paragraph (c)(2), a lawyer does not violate this Rule when the lawyer appears before a tribunal or agency pursuant to such authority. To the extent that a court rule or other law of this jurisdiction requires a lawyer who is not admitted to practice in this jurisdiction to obtain admission pro hac vice before appearing before a tribunal or administrative agency, this Rule requires the lawyer to obtain that authority.

[10] Paragraph (c)(2) also provides that a lawyer rendering services in this jurisdiction on a temporary basis does not violate this Rule when the lawyer engages in conduct in anticipation of a proceeding or hearing in a jurisdiction in which the lawyer is authorized to practice law or in which the lawyer reasonably expects to be admitted pro hac vice. Examples of such conduct include meetings with the client, interviews of potential witnesses, and the review of documents. Similarly, a lawyer admitted only in another jurisdiction may engage in conduct temporarily in this jurisdiction in connection with pending litigation in another jurisdiction in which the lawyer is or reasonably expects to be authorized to appear, including taking depositions in this jurisdiction.

[11] When a lawyer has been or reasonably expects to be admitted to appear before a court or administrative agency, paragraph (c)(2) also permits conduct by lawyers who are associated with that lawyer in the matter, but who do not expect to appear before the court or administrative agency. For example, subordinate lawyers may conduct research, review documents, and attend meetings with witnesses in support of the lawyer responsible for the litigation.

[12] Paragraph (c)(3) permits a lawyer admitted to practice law in another jurisdiction to perform services on a temporary basis in this jurisdiction if those services are in or reasonably related to a pending or potential arbitration, mediation, or other alternative dispute resolution proceeding in this or another jurisdiction, if the services arise out of or are reasonably related to the lawyer’s practice in a jurisdiction in which the lawyer is admitted to practice. The lawyer, however, must obtain admission pro hac vice in the case of a court-annexed arbitration or mediation or otherwise if court rules or law so require.

[13] Paragraph (c)(4) permits a lawyer admitted in another jurisdiction to provide certain legal services on a temporary basis in this jurisdiction that arise out of or are reasonably related to the lawyer’s practice in a jurisdiction in which the lawyer is admitted but are not within paragraphs (c)(2) or (c)(3). These services include both legal services and services that nonlawyers may perform but that are considered the practice of law when performed by lawyers.

[14] Paragraphs (c)(3) and (c)(4) require that the services arise out of or be reasonably related to the lawyer’s practice in a jurisdiction in which the lawyer is admitted. A variety of factors evidence such a relationship. The lawyer’s client may have been previously represented by the lawyer, or may be resident in or have substantial contacts with the jurisdiction in which the lawyer is admitted. The matter, although involving other jurisdictions, may have a significant connection with that jurisdiction. In other cases, significant aspects of the lawyer’s work might be conducted in that jurisdiction or a significant aspect of the matter may involve the law of that jurisdiction. The necessary relationship might arise when the client’s activities or the legal issues involve multiple jurisdictions, such as when the officers of a multinational corporation survey potential business sites and seek the services of their lawyer in assessing the relative merits of each. In addition, the services may draw on the lawyer’s recognized expertise developed through the regular practice of law on behalf of clients in matters involving a particular body of federal, nationally-uniform, foreign, or international law. Lawyers desiring to provide pro bono legal services on a temporary basis in a jurisdiction that has been affected by a major disaster, but in which they are not otherwise authorized to practice law, as well as lawyers from the affected jurisdiction who seek to practice law temporarily in another jurisdiction, but in which they are not otherwise authorized to practice law, should consult the [Model Court Rule on Provision of Legal Services Following Determination of Major Disaster].

[15] Paragraph (d) identifies two circumstances in which a lawyer who is admitted to practice in another United States or a foreign jurisdiction, and is not disbarred or suspended from practice in any jurisdiction, or the equivalent thereof, may establish an office or other systematic and continuous presence in this jurisdiction for the practice of law. Pursuant to paragraph (c) of this Rule, a lawyer admitted in any U.S. jurisdiction may also provide legal services in this jurisdiction on a temporary basis. See also Model Rule on Temporary Practice by Foreign Lawyers. Except as provided in paragraphs (d)(1) and (d)(2), a lawyer who is admitted to practice law in another United States or foreign jurisdiction and who establishes an office or other systematic or continuous presence in this jurisdiction must become admitted to practice law generally in this jurisdiction.

[16] Paragraph (d)(1) applies to a U.S. or foreign lawyer who is employed by a client to provide legal services to the client or its organizational affiliates, i.e., entities that control, are controlled by, or are under common control with the employer. This paragraph does not authorize the provision of personal legal services to the employer’s officers or employees. The paragraph applies to in-house corporate lawyers, government lawyers and others who are employed to render legal services to the employer. The lawyer’s ability to represent the employer outside the jurisdiction in which the lawyer is licensed generally serves the interests of the employer and does not create an unreasonable risk to the client and others because the employer is well situated to assess the lawyer’s qualifications and the quality of the lawyer’s work. To further decrease any risk to the client, when advising on the domestic law of a United States jurisdiction or on the law of the United States, the foreign lawyer authorized to practice under paragraph (d)(1) of this Rule needs to base that advice on the advice of a lawyer licensed and authorized by the jurisdiction to provide it.

[17] If an employed lawyer establishes an office or other systematic presence in this jurisdiction for the purpose of rendering legal services to the employer, the lawyer may be subject to registration or other requirements, including assessments for client protection funds and mandatory continuing legal education. See Model Rule for Registration of In-House Counsel.

[18] Paragraph (d)(2) recognizes that a lawyer may provide legal services in a jurisdiction in which the lawyer is not licensed when authorized to do so by federal or other law, which includes statute, court rule, executive regulation or judicial precedent. See, e.g., Model Rule on Practice Pending Admission.

[19] A lawyer who practices law in this jurisdiction pursuant to paragraphs (c) or (d) or otherwise is subject to the disciplinary authority of this jurisdiction. See Rule 8.5(a).

[20] In some circumstances, a lawyer who practices law in this jurisdiction pursuant to paragraphs (c) or (d) may have to inform the client that the lawyer is not licensed to practice law in this jurisdiction. For example, that may be required when the representation occurs primarily in this jurisdiction and requires knowledge of the law of this jurisdiction. See Rule 1.4(b).

[21] Paragraphs (c) and (d) do not authorize communications advertising legal services in this jurisdiction by lawyers who are admitted to practice in other jurisdictions. Whether and how lawyers may communicate the availability of their services in this jurisdiction is governed by Rules 7.1 to 7.5.

Annotations

Generally

A Louisiana lawyer must not practice in a jurisdiction where doing so would violate that jurisdiction’s statutes and rules governing the practice of law. See La. Rules of Prof’l Conduct R. 5.5(a) (2004); see also id. Rule 8.5 (“A lawyer admitted to practice in this jurisdiction is subject to the disciplinary authority of this jurisdiction although engaged in practice elsewhere.”). Thus, for example, a Louisiana lawyer is subject to discipline in this state if he engages in the unauthorized practice of law in Texas.

Defining “The Practice of Law”

What constitutes the “practice of law” is an often difficult question to answer. For the ABA’s attempt to address this issue, see ABA Model Definition of “The Practice of Law”. In essence, the ABA concluded that “the practice of law is the application of legal principles and judgment to the circumstances or objectives of another person or entity.“ Id.

Disbarred and Suspended Lawyers

This rule prohibits a disbarred or suspended Louisiana lawyer from practicing law while under an order of disbarment or suspension. See, e.g., In re Jones, 99 So. 3d 20, 24 (La. 2012); In re Turnage, 104 So. 3d 397, 400 (La. 2012) (disbarring Louisiana lawyer permanently for practicing law in Mississippi after previous disbarment);In re Harris, 847 So. 2d 1185 (La. 2002); In re Jefferson, 789 So. 2d 569 (La. 2001); In re Jones, 747 So. 2d 1081 (La. 1999); In re Withers, 747 So. 2d 514 (La. 1999); In re Grady, 731 So. 2d 878 (La. 1999); In re Quaid, 740 So. 2d 104 (La. 1999); In re Lindsay, 976 So.2d 1261 (La. 2008); In re Matthews, 2010 WL 1135953 (La. 3/26/10); In re Petal, 2010 WL 1135963 (La. 3/26/10); In re Bates, 2010 WL 1509487 (La. 4/16/10). Moreover, it strictly regulates the extent to which and conditions under licensed lawyers can employ suspended and disbarred lawyers. See In re Sharp, 106 So. 3d 105 (La. 2013). The Louisiana Supreme Court has also used Rule 5.5 to enforce compliance with a lawyer’s obligation to pay bar dues, disciplinary assessments and to comply with MCLE requriements. See, e.g., In re Thomas, 115 So. 3d 466, 472 (La. 2013) (disciplining lawyer for unauthorized practice of law while ineligible due to failure to pay bar dues and disciplinary assessment).

Assisting Nonlawyers in the Unauthorized Practice of Law

In addition, this rule prohibits a lawyer from assisting a person who is not a licensed lawyer in the unauthorized practice of law. La. Rules of Prof’l Conduct R. 5.5(e) (2004); see also Restatement (Third) of the Law Governing Lawyers § 4 (2000); Sharp, 106 So. 3d at 105 (disciplining lawyer for employing disbarred lawyer as paralegal); In re Guirard & Pittinger, 11 So. 3d 1017, 1030 (La. 2009) (disbarment imposed because “[r]espondents delegated the handling of their clients’ cases to their nonlawyer staff.”); In re Goff, 837 So. 2d 1201, 1202 (La. 2003) (disciplining lawyer for assisting “paralegals with their own clientele” in the unauthorized practice of law); In re Brown, 813 So. 2d 325 (La. 2002) (lawyer disciplined for assisting “paralegal” functioning like a lawyer in settling cases). Although a lawyer may be assisted by nonlawyers in the practice of law, a lawyer may not delegate to paralegals or legal secretaries tasks that call for the exercise of professional judgment by a licensed lawyer. See La. State Bar Ass’n v. Edwins, 540 So. 2d 294, 300 (La. 1989). Unfortunately, it is notoriously difficult to determine when the performance of a particular task by a nonlawyer constitutes the unauthorized “practice of law.” See In re Elkins, 700 So. 2d 211 (La. 1997) (concluding that it was permissible for a suspended lawyer acting as a paralegal to initiate plea-bargain negotiations on behalf of the client of another lawyer); see also In re Unauthorized Practice of Law Rules Proposed by S.C. Bar, 422 S.E.2d 123 (S.C. 1992).

Disciplinary Sanctions

Absent aggravating or mitigating circumstances, the following sanctions are generally appropriate in cases involving violations of Rule 5.5: disbarment, when the lawyer knowingly engages in conduct that is a violation of a duty owed to the profession with the intent to obtain a benefit for the lawyer or another, and causes serious or potentially serious injury to a client, the public, or the legal system; suspension, when the lawyer knowingly engages in conduct that is a violation of a duty owed to the profession, and causes injury or potential injury to a client, the public, or the legal system; reprimand, when the lawyer negligently engages in conduct that is a violation of a duty owed to the profession, and causes injury or potential injury to a client, the public, or the legal system; and, admonition, when the lawyer engages in an isolated instance of negligence that is a violation of a duty owed to the profession, and causes little or no actual or potential injury to a client, the public or the legal system. See ABA Stds. for Imposing Lawyer Sanctions stds. 7.0-7.4 (1992). The Louisiana Supreme Court has held that its “prior decisions in Sledge, Brown, and Edwins establish that the baseline sanction for the facilitation of the unauthorized practice of law by a nonlawyer is disbarment.” See In re Guirard & Pittinger, 11 So. 3d 1017, 1030 (La. 2009); see also In re Moeller, 111 So. 3d 325, 328-29 (La. 2013) (suspending lawyer for repeatedly practicing law while ineligible and noting typical sanctions in prior Louisiana case law for the unauthorized practice of law).

Related Authorities

Louisiana Revised Statutes § 37:212 (“Practice of Law” Defined)

(A) The practice of law means and includes:

(1) In a representative capacity, the appearance as an advocate, or the drawing of papers, pleadings or documents, or the performance of any act in connection with pending or prospective proceedings before any court of record in this state; or

(2) For a consideration, reward, or pecuniary benefit, present or anticipated, direct or indirect;

(a) The advising or counseling of another as to secular law;

(b) In behalf of another, the drawing or procuring, or the assisting in the drawing or procuring of a paper, document, or instrument affecting or relating to secular rights;

(c) The doing of any act, in behalf of another, tending to obtain or secure for the other the prevention or the redress of a wrong or the enforcement or establishment of a right; or

(d) Certifying or giving opinions as to title to immovable property or any interest therein or as to the rank or priority or validity of a lien, privilege or mortgage as well as the preparation of acts of sale, mortgages, credit sales or any acts or other documents passing titles to or encumbering immovable property.

(B) Nothing in this Section prohibits any person from attending to and caring for his own business, claims, or demands; or from preparing abstracts of title; or from insuring titles to property, movable or immovable, or an interest therein, or a privilege and encumbrance thereon, but every title insurance contract relating to immovable property must be based upon the certification or opinion of a licensed Louisiana attorney authorized to engage in the practice of law. Nothing in this Section prohibits any person from performing, as a notary public, any act necessary or incidental to the exercise of the powers and functions of the office of notary public, as those powers are delineated in Louisiana Revised Statutes of 1950, Title 35, Section 1, et seq.

(C) Nothing in this Section shall prohibit any partnership, corporation, or other legal entity from asserting any claim, not exceeding five thousand dollars, or defense pertaining to an open account or promissory note, or suit for eviction of tenants on its own behalf in the courts of limited jurisdiction on its own behalf through a duly authorized partner, shareholder, officer, employee, or duly authorized agent or representative. No partnership, corporation, or other entity may assert any claim on behalf of another entity or any claim assigned to it.

(D) Nothing in Article V, Section 24, of the Constitution of Louisiana or this Section shall prohibit justices or judges from performing all acts necessary or incumbent to the authorized exercise of duties as judge advocates or legal officers.

Louisiana Revised Statutes § 37:213 (Persons, professional associations, professional corporations, and limited liability companies entitled to practice law; penalty for unlawful practice)

(A) No natural person, who has not first been duly and regularly licensed and admitted to practice law by the supreme court of this state, no corporation or voluntary association except a professional law corporation organized pursuant to Chapter 8 of Title 12 of the Revised Statutes, and no partnership or limited liability company except one formed for the practice of law and composed of such natural persons, corporations, voluntary associations, or limited liability companies, all of whom are duly and regularly licensed and admitted to the practice of law, shall:

(1) Practice law;

(2) Furnish attorneys or counsel or an attorney and counsel to render legal services;

(3) Hold himself or itself out to the public as being entitled to practice law;

(4) Render or furnish legal services or advice;

(5) Assume to be an attorney at law or counselor at law;

(6) Assume, use or advertise the title of lawyer, attorney, counselor, advocate or equivalent terms in any language, or any phrase containing any of these titles, in such manner as to convey the impression that he is a practitioner of law; or

(7) In any manner advertise that he, either alone or together with any other person, has, owns, conducts or maintains an office of any kind for the practice of law.

(B) This Section does not prevent any corporation or voluntary association formed for benevolent or charitable purposes and recognized by law, from furnishing an attorney at law to give free assistance to persons without means.

(C) Any natural person who violates any provision of this Section shall be fined not more than one thousand dollars or imprisoned for not more than two years, or both.

(D) Any partnership, corporation or voluntary association which violates this Section shall be fined not more than five thousand dollars. Every officer, trustee, director, agent, or employee of a corporation or voluntary association who, directly or indirectly, engages in any act violating any provision of this Section or assists the corporation or voluntary association in the performance of any such violation is subject to the penalties prescribed in this Section for violations by a natural person.

Louisiana Revised Statutes § 37:214 (Visiting Attorneys of Other States; Reciprocity)

Except as provided in this Section, no person licensed or qualified to practice as an attorney at law or as an attorney and counselor at law in any other state and temporarily present in this state shall practice law in this state, unless he has been first duly licensed to practice law by the supreme court of this state or unless he acts in association with some attorney duly licensed to practice law by the supreme court of this state.

Nothing in this Chapter prevents the practice of law in this state by a visiting attorney from a state which, either by statute or by some rule of practice accorded specific recognition by the highest court of that state, has adopted a rule of reciprocity that permits an attorney duly licensed and qualified to practice law in this state to appear alone as an attorney in all courts of record in the other state, without being required to be admitted to practice in such other state, and without being required to associate with himself some attorney admitted to practice in the other state.

Whoever violates any provision of this Section shall be fined not more than one thousand dollars or imprisoned for not more than two years, or both.

Louisiana Revised Statutes § 37:215 (Procedure by Visiting Attorney for Recognition in Louisiana Courts Under Reciprocity Rule)

Whenever any visiting attorney desires to exercise the privilege of appearing alone as counsel of record in any case in any court of record in this state, under the provisions of the second paragraph of R.S. 37:214, he shall, before filing the first pleading or other appearance on behalf of his client in the cause, produce evidence satisfactory to the court before which he wishes to appear, or to the presiding judge if there be two or more judges of the court, to the effect that the state in which he is then licensed and qualified to practice law has in force a statute or rule of practice of the character specified in R.S. 37:214. Upon the judge being satisfied of this, he shall enter an order authorizing the appearance of the visiting attorney before his court in the case. This order shall specifically refer to the appropriate statutory provision or to the requisite judicial recognition of the appropriate rule of practice of the other state in question.

Louisiana Revised Statutes § 37:216 (Filing of Pleadings by Visiting Attorney Under Reciprocity Rule)

No clerk of any court of record in this state shall file any pleading, brief, or other appearance signed on behalf of any party or litigant solely by a visiting attorney, unless it or some prior pleading, brief, or appearance filed in the cause by the visiting attorney is accompanied by an order of court of the character specified in R.S. 37:215. If any such pleading, brief, or other appearance is inadvertently filed without a compliance with the provisions of R.S. 37:215, it may be ordered stricken from the record ex parte on motion of any party at interest, or by the court of its own motion.

Supreme Court Rule XVII § 14: Limited Admission for In-House Counsel (Effective April 1, 2005)

(A) A lawyer admitted and authorized to practice law in another state or territory of the United States may receive a limited license to practice law in this state when the lawyer is employed in Louisiana as a lawyer exclusively for: a corporation, its subsidiaries or affiliates; an association; and/or a business which consists of activities other than the practice of law or the provision of legal services, if the lawyer:

(1) Has filed an application for a limited license pursuant to this Rule with the Committee on Bar Admissions of the Supreme Court of Louisiana containing the following:

(a) A written application in the form prescribed by the Committee;

(b) A sworn statement that either:

(i) no complaints with any disciplinary authority are pending in any jurisdiction and that no charges of professional misconduct are pending against the applicant in any jurisdiction; or

(ii) if any such complaints or charges are pending, full details of the complaints or charges, and the current status of same;

(c) Information which indicates that the applicant meets the requirements of subparts (A), (B), (C), and (D) of Rule XVII, Section 3;

(d) An affidavit from an officer, director or general counsel of the applicant’s employer in this state attesting the fact that the applicant is employed as a lawyer exclusively for the employer, that the applicant is an individual of good moral character, and that the nature of the employment conforms to the requirements of this Rule;

(e) The National Conference of Bar Examiners Character Report.

(i) If the applicant has completed an NCBE character report within three years of the application for limited licensure, the prior report may be submitted in lieu of a new report.

(ii) In the event a prior NCBE report is submitted, the applicant shall also append to the prior report the NCBE Supplemental Character Report.

(f) The non-refundable prescribed application fee set by the Supreme Court of Louisiana;

(2) Otherwise meets the character and fitness requirements of this Rule and the Committee on Bar Admissions of the Supreme Court of Louisiana; and

(3) Receives the recommendation and approval of the Committee on Bar Admissions of the Supreme Court of Louisiana.

(B) The application, affidavits, and other materials, including the report of character and fitness, shall be reviewed by the Committee on Bar Admissions of the Supreme Court of Louisiana. The Louisiana Supreme Court , in its discretion , may issue the limited license to practice law in the State of Louisiana based on the recommendations and approval of the Committee on Bar Admissions.

(C) Licensure pursuant to the Rule is not a matter of right and shall be granted only in those cases where the public interest, considering the character, background and employment of the applicant, is furthered by issuing a license. In the event the Committee does not recommend the limited licensure of an applicant, the applicant may then appeal in accordance with Rule XVII, Section 9.

(D) The license issued pursuant to this Rule only authorizes the lawyer to practice exclusively for the employer filing the affidavit required by subpart (A)(1)(d) of this rule. Nothing in this rule or in this subpart shall be deemed to allow court appearances by any lawyer who has been issued a limited license pursuant to this rule. Any such appearance, or contemplated appearance, by a lawyer who has been issued a limited license pursuant to this rule shall be governed by rules and procedures applicable to pro hac vice admission.

(E) A limited license issued pursuant to this Rule shall be valid for four years from the date of issuance. The license is automatically terminated if the lawyer is admitted to the practice of law pursuant to any other provisions of Rule XVII. The license is automatically suspended if the lawyer’s employment by the employer filing the affidavit required by subpart (A)(1)(d) of this rule is terminated. If a lawyer’s employment is terminated but the lawyer is immediately thereafter employed by an employer filing the affidavit required by subpart (A)(1)(d) of this rule, the limited license shall be reinstated for the remainder of the period of four years from the date the license originally was issued.

(F) A limited license issued pursuant to this Rule may be renewed for a successive four year period by filing the written application required by the Committee. The application shall be filed at least ninety days prior to the expiration of the current license. For good cause shown, the court may permit the late filing of an application. The application shall include at least the following:

(1) The licensee’s sworn statement that no complaints with any disciplinary authority are pending and that no charges of professional misconduct are pending against the licensee in any jurisdiction. Alternatively, if any such complaints or charges are pending or any disciplinary action has been taken against the licensee in any jurisdiction, full details of the complaint and charges, the current status of the complaint or charges, and the disposition thereof, if not currently pending, shall be set forth;

(2) An affidavit from an officer, director or general counsel of the licensee’s employer in this state attesting the fact that the licensee remains employed as a lawyer exclusively for the employer and that the nature of the employment continues to conform to the requirements of this Rule;

(3) An affidavit from the licensee setting forth any changes in information from that provided in his or her immediately preceding application pursuant to this Rule or attesting that there are no such changes;

(4) The NCBE Supplemental Character Report;

(5) The application for renewal shall be accompanied by the non-refundable fee approved by the Court.

(G) A lawyer admitted pursuant to this Rule is required to pay the annual Disciplinary Assessment required of attorneys admitted to practice three years or more pursuant to La. S. Ct. Rule XIX, Section 8; and Louisiana State Bar Association annual dues pursuant to Article V of the Articles of Incorporation of the Louisiana State Bar Association during the period of the limited license.

(H) A lawyer admitted pursuant to this rule shall be subject to the Louisiana Rules of Professional Conduct and to the disciplinary authority of the courts and the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board.

(I) A lawyer admitted pursuant to this rule shall comply with the annual registration requirements contained in Louisiana Supreme Court Rule XIX, §8.

(J) A lawyer admitted pursuant to this Rule is required to meet the continuing legal education requirements specified in La. S. Ct. Rule XXX.

Notes

This page was updated on August 6, 2013.

 

 



[1] Note that there appears to be a typographical error in Louisiana Rule 5.5(a) in that the Louisiana Rule deletes the ABA language “in a jurisdiction” that is bracketed in the black-letter text above.