out-of-state attorneys, not licensed by the State Bar of California,
be able to practice law in California? The question of whether and
under what circumstances attorneys who are licensed to practice law in
other states may be permitted to practice in California has been the
focus of a task force appointed by Chief Justice Ronald M. George.
Over the past six months, the California Supreme Court Advisory Task
Force on Multijurisdictional Practice has considered the problems
presented as well as the benefits provided by the State Bar's
As I write this, the task force expects to issue
its preliminary report and recommendations for public comment on July
31, 2001. This will provide a chance for attorneys and others
interested in the subject to give their views and to respond to the
task force's tentative conclusions. As chair of the task force, I
urge you to study the report and to let the task force have the
benefit of your thoughts.
The comments received from the public will play
an important role as the task force prepares its final report to the
Supreme Court. We anticipate submitting the report and recommendations
by the end of the year.
The task force was created in response to Senate
Bill 1782, sponsored by Sen. Bill Morrow, and enacted last year. The
original version of that bill would have allowed admission to the bar,
without taking and passing California's rigorous bar exam, of anyone
who had practiced in another state for three years and was in good
standing with that state's bar.
As enacted, however, the legislation requested
that the California Supreme Court appoint a group to study and make
recommendations on multijurisdictional practice.
The question of whether traditional limitations
on practice across jurisdictional boundaries should be modified or
abandoned is currently being considered by a number of other states
and by the American Bar Association's Commission on
Two members of the California task force also
serve on the ABA commission, and the task force reviewed and
considered a wide variety of information made available by the
commission and other sources.
The 18 members of the task force bring a wide
range of experiences and views. They include attorneys in private
practice - both criminal and civil, those from small, medium-sized
and large firms, government attorneys, in-house counsel, an attorney
with the State Bar, a non-lawyer, a superior court judge and a former
court of appeal justice.
In his charge to the task force, Chief Justice
Ronald George expressly asked that the members set aside any
individual interests they might have, noting that they were chosen for
their experience and commitment to professional excellence within the
bar, and not to advance the goals of a particular constituency.
The task force is honoring that request.
Throughout the process of discussing the problems posed by
multijurisdictional practice and evaluating potential solutions,
members' paramount concern has been the protection of consumers of
The task force has been guided by the principle
that ensuring high standards of practice, including measures to ensure
attorney competence and character and fitness requirements, must be
maintained. In addition, the task force has considered questions
concerning which attorneys should be subject to discipline in
California, and what means are available to enforce disciplinary
The task force considered the needs of clients
and the realities of law practice in today's legal and business
environment. Many California lawyers frequently travel to other states
- and out-of-state lawyers come here - to gather evidence, meet
with clients and witnesses, take and defend depositions, negotiate
settlements, engage in transactions, give legal advice and provide
other legal services.
Clients expect their selected counsel to be able
to provide these services. Given these realities, the task force
recognized that it would be important to clearly articulate what
non-California-licensed attorneys may and may not do.
The task force has been considering the full
spectrum of options - from full comity, allowing attorneys in good
standing in other jurisdictions to be admitted in California without
taking the bar exam and without regard to whether those other
jurisdictions offer the same to California lawyers, to leaving the
current admission system and rules on the unauthorized practice of law
The preliminary report of the task force is
available on the California courts' website, http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/invitationstocomment/.
It also is available at the offices of the clerk of the Supreme Court.
Again, I urge you to read the report and offer your comments to the
Marshall, a partner at McCutchen, Doyle, Brown & Enersen in San
Francisco and a former president of the State Bar, chairs the
California Supreme Court Advisory Task Force on Multijurisdictional