The inquirer is an immigration attorney practicing in an LLP with one other attorney who is admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar. The firm's office is located in
The inquirer was advised when he began practicing in
First the inquirer asks whether his practice circumstances can, in any way, be construed as a violation of the amended rule. Second, could he continue to practice federal immigration law if the partnership were to be dissolved, or if his partner were to die? Finally, the inquirer asks if he could practice immigration law as an associate in Pennsylvania if the amended rule prohibits him from "maintaining an office" in the state.
Recently Rule 5.5 was amended to specifically allow for the multi-jurisdictional practice of law (MJP). In part, the Rule states that:
(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; --
(c) A lawyer admitted in another
(1) are undertaken in association with a lawyer who is admitted to practice in this jurisdiction and who actively participates in the matter--;
(d) A lawyer admitted in another
(2) are services that the lawyer is authorized to provide by federal law or other law of this jurisdiction.
As the inquirer is in partnership with a Pennsylvania-admitted attorney, his present practice of immigration law within his Pennsylvania office would be authorized by Rule 5.5(c)(1), provided his partner actively participates in the matter. However, even if his partner does not, Rule 5.5(d)(2) makes it clear that the inquirer is authorized to provide his immigration services by virtue of his admission to the
Although it is clear that the inquirer can represent clients in immigration cases in Pennsylvania without being admitted here, what is not addressed clearly in the Rules themselves is the pivotal issue of the inquirer's having a law office within Pennsylvania even though he is not admitted here.
Although the Comments to the Rules are not officially adopted by the Supreme Court they are included to further clarify and explain the Rules themselves. Comment 15 to Rule 5.5 is directly on point to this inquiry and provides that:
15. Paragraph (d) identifies two circumstances in which a lawyer who is admitted to practice in another jurisdiction, and is not disbarred or suspended from practice in any jurisdiction, may establish an office or other systematic and continuous presence in this jurisdiction for the practice of law as well as provide legal services on a temporary basis. Except as provided in paragraphs (d)(1) and (d)(2), a lawyer who is admitted to practice law in another 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.
Since the inquirer's situation clearly fits within 5.5d(2) it becomes clear that he is not required to be admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar in order to maintain an office here provided he limits his practice to immigration work. This is true whether or not he is in a partnership with a
The Committee does remind the inquirer that since he is not admitted to practice generally in Pennsylvania and is only able to practice in immigration matters that any advertisements, stationary, cards, etc. must so note in accordance with Rules of Professional Conduct 7.1a and 7.5a.