Washington Law Review


Replacing Geographic Lines with Conceptual Lines: A Proposal for Limited Authorization of Multijurisdictional Practice of Law

October 31, 2019 | 94 Wash. L. Rev. 1419

Abstract:  State regulations have created substantial barriers to lawyers who engage in multijurisdictional practice of law. Applying the amorphous concept of practice of law to modern society results in many lawyers who knowingly or unknowingly practice in multiple states—including states where they are not admitted to the bar. Yet there is no simple means by which a lawyer can obtain permission to engage in multijurisdictional practice in the United States.

This Comment proposes a way for Congress to authorize multijurisdictional practice for some aspects of legal practice without completely displacing the role of state bars. Drawing on analogies to the division of legal practice in the United Kingdom and other common law countries, this Comment argues that the inherent difference between in-court and out-of-court practice—epitomized in the barrister and solicitor roles—defines the proper dividing line between what Congress should and should not preempt. This Comment thus proposes a scheme of decentralized authorization for multijurisdictional practice in a solicitor-like capacity, while reserving decisions about in-court representation to the states.
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