In the Headlines
June 15, 2020

Work From Home Boom Reignites Atty Licensing Questions


Partner Trisha Rich was quoted in a Law360 article about whether lawyers are unwittingly flouting local licensure rules. When law offices shuttered to stop the spread of the coronavirus back in March, attorneys hunkered down at home — sometimes, across state lines from where they work and are admitted to practice. Legal ethics attorneys across the country provided insight on whether attorneys are complying with state law when working from home in a state where they are not licensed. While it's true that some state bars "turn a blind eye" to attorneys who live in one state and work in another, enforcement can vary. Before the novel coronavirus, some states had been cracking down on attorneys who straddled jurisdictions, Ms. Rich said.

"I think we've seen an uptick in prosecutions where someone moved to a jurisdiction and didn't properly register, but we also see them when somebody just lives over the border," said Ms. Rich.

Partner David Elkanich, won an Oregon Supreme Court case over the right to temporarily practice after relocating. Mr. Elkanich's client had been recruited from Pennsylvania to work as general counsel for Portland Public Schools. He took the job, thinking his work was covered by the temporary allowance in the local rules while his Oregon license application was pending. The bar eventually charged him with unlawfully practicing, saying the temporary exemption didn't apply because he intended to permanently set up shop in Portland. But in May, the state's high court disagreed.

"We see bars cracking down on this a little bit more than they have in the past," Ms. Rich said. "In general, that's what we see in the marketplace: Bars are paying more attention to this right now, particularly with respect to in-house counsel."

READ: Work From Home Boom Reignites Atty Licensing Questions

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