Bar Admission Rule Challenge Joins String of Defeats

In its latest attempt to lessen barriers to multijurisdictional practice, the National Association for the Advancement of Multijurisdiction Practice (“NAAMJP”) challenged specific bar admission conditions for the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, delineated in the identical text of Local Civil Rule 83.8 and Local Criminal Rule 57.21, violate statutory and constitutional legal standards. The rule states that “[a]dmission to and continuing membership in the Bar of this Court are limited to: . . . attorneys who are active members in good standing of the Bar of any state in which they maintain their principal law office . . . ” (See D.D.C. Local Civ. R. 83.8(a); D.D.C. Local Crim. R. 57.21(a)).

Finding no merit in the NAAMJP’s argument, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the complaint in its opinion. While the court admitted that there “may be good policy reasons” to eliminate the rule, the association “failed to identify any substantive right—whether constitutional, statutory, or derived from national federal rules” that it violated.

In fact, the court noted the “sincerity of NAAMJP’s convictions or its eagerness to reduce barriers to legal practice in the various state and federal courts across the country,” but emphasized the need for a concrete legal basis to overturn the rule. The court, therefore, joined “the chorus of judicial opinions rejecting these futile challenges.”

Read the entire decision and its implications here.

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