Six out-of-state lawyers who moved to California have challenged the state's requirement that they pass the California bar exam before appearing in court.
The suit was filed in U.S. District Court against the justices of the California Supreme Court.
Under the Rules Regulating Admission to Practice Law, out-of-state attorneys must pass a two-day "attorneys examination" to obtain a license to practice law in California.
The lawsuit claims the rule "discriminates among otherwise equally qualified applicants for [temporary] admission solely on the basis of residency. It is principally designed to limit competition."
The suit seeks to let the lawyers make occasional appearances in state court under the same $50 fee and sponsorship arrangement that covered them when they lived in another state.
One of the plaintiffs has practiced for nearly 30 years in New Jersey, another is a trademark counsel in Illinois for a large company and a third, licensed in Colorado, is general counsel for a California-based company but cannot represent the company in state court in California without passing the attorneys exam.
Bar officials said the rule requiring out-of-state lawyers to pass the attorneys' exam was upheld by a federal appeals court in 1990.