California Bar Journal
OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE STATE BAR OF CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 2001
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California Bar Journal

The State Bar of California


REGULARS

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Front Page - August 2001
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News / News Briefs
MCLE deadline for Group 3 (last names N-Z) is Feb. 1
Judicial Council launches online self-help center
California lawyers honored for work for homeless, minorities and children
Coy about her future, Reno focuses on women's issues
No bias found against solos
Governor signs two-year fee bill
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Ethics update...
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Trials Digest
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Opinion
From the President - Bar targets unauthorized practice
Microsoft ruling: Foundation to settle
MJP is more than alphabet soup
Letters to the Editor
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Legal Tech - A look back at six years of technology news
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You Need to Know
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MCLE Self-Study
A word from our sponsors
Self-Assessment Test
MCLE Calendar of Events
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Discipline
Ethics Byte - Let's go surfin' now, everybody's learnin' how
Recovering alcoholic may get to recover his license
Attorney Discipline
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Public Comment
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OPINION

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MJP is more than alphabet soup

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By RAYMOND MARSHALL
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Raymond MarshallShould 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 licensing requirements.

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 Multijurisdictional Practice.

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 legal services.

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 regulations.

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 unchanged.

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 task force.

Raymond 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 Practice.