Opinion 2000-7
(July 2000)

The inquirer is licensed to practice in Pennsylvania and is also admitted to practice before the Bar of the United States Supreme Court.  She is in good standing before both courts.  She asks if her attorney license entitles her to practice in the field of adoption law, particularly international adoption, without any further education, licenses or degrees.

The practice of international adoption has two components.  One, strictly a state law component, is that of adoption proceedings which take place in Pennsylvania.  As an attorney admitted to practice in Pennsylvania, the inquirer is admitted to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, the highest court in Pennsylvania, and is licensed to handle any and all county and state court legal proceedings having to do with an adoption taking place in Pennsylvania.

The other component of international adoption is that of representing clients before the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), appearing before administrative law judges and possibly appearing before the INS Board of Appeals.  "Attorneys in the United States"  are permitted to represent individuals before the INS (8 CFR 292.1(a)(1)).  For such purposes an attorney is defined as  " --any person who is a member in good standing of the bar of the highest court of any State, possession, territory, Commonwealth, or  the District of Columbia, and is not under any order of any court suspending, enjoining, restraining, disbarring, or otherwise restricting him in the practice of law." (8 CFR 1.1(f)).  Being licensed to practice in Pennsylvania, therefore qualifies the inquirer as being allowed to handle any immigration matter before the INS,  providing  the inquirer is not subject to any restriction in the practice of law by any court.

It is the opinion of the Committee that with her Pennsylvania attorney's license alone, the inquirer  may handle the legal work for international adoptions for clients in Pennsylvania without any further education, licenses or degrees other than those which she presently possesses.

The Philadelphia Bar Association's Professional Guidance Committee provides, upon request, advice for lawyers facing or anticipating facing ethical dilemmas. Advice is based on the consideration of the facts of the particular inquirer's situation and the Rules of Professional Conduct as promulgated by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. The Committee's opinions are advisory only and are based upon the facts set forth. The opinions are not binding upon the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania or any other Court. They carry only such weight as an appropriate reviewing authority may choose to give it.