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September 7, 2011: ABA Ethics 20/20 Commission Recommends All States Adopt Admission on Motion Provisions for All Attorneys with Three Years of Experience

The NAAMJP litigation to provide lawyers with interstate mobility took a huge step forward, thanks to the ABA Commission on Ethics 20/20. On September 7, 2011, the Commission concluded that the ABA should adopt amendments to the Rule on Admission by Motion that would allow lawyers to qualify for admission by motion with three years of experience. In its report explaining its conclusion, the Commission noted that they “examined many ways in which globalization and technology affected the legal profession, including the increasing importance of cross-border practice,” and concluded that, “additional changes are necessary in light of technological developments, economic trends, and client needs and demands.” The Commission cited two key factors leading to their recommendation for reducing the length of practice requirement in the Rule for Admission by Motion. First, market and client demands in an increasingly borderless world are fueling the need for lawyers to gain admission in other jurisdictions. Second, lawyers often need to move to new jurisdictions for a wide range of personal reasons, including the need to find employment.
Admission by motion procedures now exist in forty jurisdictions. The Commission’s research revealed that more than 65,000 lawyers have used the procedure in the last ten years. The Commission also found that there is no evidence that lawyers admitted by motion are more likely to be subject to discipline, disciplinary complaints, or malpractice suits than lawyers admitted through more traditional procedures. The Commission further declared that female lawyers were particularly injured by the failure to have admission on motion privileges.
The main criticisms against Admission on Motion were addressed by the Commission. First, the Commission considered the concern that a lawyer who has practiced for only three years may not be sufficiently competent to practice law in a new jurisdiction. However, the Commission “found no reason to believe that lawyers who have been engaged in the active practice of law for three of the last seven years will be any less able to practice law in a new jurisdiction than a law school graduate who recently passed the bar…” They further concluded that, “the ‘local’ law concern falsely assumes that passage of the bar examination demonstrates competence in local law.
The Commission asks that “the ABA adopt the resolution urging jurisdictions that have not adopted the Model Rule to do so and, in particular, to do so without imposing additional restrictions, such as reciprocity requirements” finding.
The NAAMJP’s representative testified in person before the Commission, and further submitted written argument supporting enhanced admission on motion. The NAAMJP briefs in Blye v. Kozinski (9th Cir. 10-17032)(challenging Federal District Court Local Rules that do not have admission on motion privileges for all sister-state attorneys) have been posted on the Commissions web page.
A copy of the Commission’s Report can be found at the below link: ABA 20/20 Recommendation

Permanent Link: September 7, 2011: ABA Ethics 20/20 Commission Recommends All States Adopt Admission on Motion Provisions for All Attorneys with Three Years of Experience


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