Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Claim: Elizabeth Warren doesn't need Massachusetts law license

Legal Insurrection's William Jacobson questioned the legality of Elizabeth Warren's engaging in legal practice from her office at Harvard Law School without having gotten a license to practice law in that state. Now a counter-argument has been offered. Mark Thompson writes:
 most importantly, Professor Jacobson ignores Massachusetts Rule of Professional Conduct 5.5(d), which states that:
"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...are services that the lawyer is authorized to provide by federal law or other law of this jurisdiction."
The Official Comments to Rule 5.5(d) further elaborate to make explicit that 5.5(d) permits such an attorney to have even a "systematic and continuous presence in [Massachusetts] for the practice of law as well as provide legal services on a temporary basis."
As the cases to which Professor Jacobson has drawn our attention are entirely cases from the federal courts, and indeed appear to be cases lying even outside the jurisdiction of the Massachusetts federal courts, and as there seems to be no allegation that Professor Warren was unauthorized to appear in those cases, the Massachusetts Rules of Professional Conduct appear to explicitly exempt Professor Warren's actions in those cases from the prohibitions on the unauthorized practice of law.
Although it is true that Rule 5.5(d) does "not authorize communications advertising legal services to prospective clients in [Massachusetts] by lawyers who are admitted to practice in other jurisdictions," merely listing the location of one's office in an official court filing in which one is properly authorized to appear cannot possibly be construed as a "communication advertising legal services."  
Via: The American Thinker

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