D.C. Court of Appeals Out-of-State Lawyers Prohibition Challenged

On September 15, the National Association for the Advancement of Multijurisdictional Practice (NAAMJP) filed a writ of certiorari petition appealing a D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals decision affirming local rules that bar out-of-state attorneys from practicing before Washington, D.C.’s federal court if they are not admitted to the bar where their law firm is based. NAAMJP argues that these rules are discriminatory and “deliberately sidestep the rule of law and binding precedent.”

The petition argues that D.C.’s licensing scheme (which allows D.C. licensed attorneys to have a principal office anywhere, but requires attorneys licensed elsewhere to be admitted in the state where they maintain their principal office) amounts to illegal discrimination against out-of-state attorneys. According to the petition, similar local rules exist in 60 percent of federal district courts.

An amicus brief filed with the court points to a 1987 Supreme Court decision, Frazier v. Heebe, in which the Supreme Court held that a New Orleans federal district court bar admission rule was invalid because it “arbitrarily” discriminated against out-of-state attorneys. The brief reasons that the bar admission rules of the D.C. district court arbitrarily discriminate against lawyers from other jurisdictions by requiring them, but not D.C. lawyers, to have a law office in a state where they are admitted to practice.

To read the petition for writ of certiorari, click here.

For an article on the matter, click here.