The New York Court of Appeals today announced that it had adopted a new rule to allow out-of-state, in-house lawyers the ability to offer legal advice in the state without running afoul of the rules against the unauthorized practice of law. The new rule takes effect on April 20. The rule requires that an attorney presently employed in New York as in-house counsel shall file an application under this section within 90 days, while lawyers who become in-house counsel in the state in the future shall file within 30 days of the commencement of employment. Failure to comply "shall be deemed professional misconduct," although the court may grant an extension for good cause shown.
The new rule applies to in-house counsel, defined as "an attorney who is employed full time in this State by a non-governmental corporation, partnership, association, or other legal entity . . . ." The rule authorizes the registered attorney to provide legal services in New York to his employer or any of its "organizational affiliates", as well as employees, officers and directors, on matters directly related to the attorney's work for the employer entity. The rule does not authorize the registered attorney to appear before any tribunal in the state or to engage in activity for which pro hac vice admission would be required. The registered attorney must not hold himself or herself out as an attorney admitted to practice in the state except "on the employer's letterhead with a limiting designation", and is not authorized to provide personal or individual legal services to any client.
The applicant is required to file with the Clerk of the Appellate Division of the Department in which the applicant resides or is employed:
- A certificate of good standing from each jurisdiction in which the applicant is licensed to practice law;
- A letter from each jurisdiction's grievance committee or similar body certifying whether any charges have been filed against the applicant, and if so, the substance and the disposition thereof;
- An affidavit certifying that the applicant performs or will perform legal services in this state solely and exclusively as provided in the rule, and agrees to be subject to the disciplinary authority of the state, and to comply with its rules of professional conduct; and
- An affidavit or affirmation signed by a senior member of the applicant's employer attesting that the applicant is or will be employed as an attorney for the employer and that the nature of the employment conforms to the requirements of the rule.
To view the actual rule please click on the link below.