Can an attorney that is not licensed to practice in California, but is licensed to practice in another state, appear on the record in a California criminal or civil case? Almost certainly, as long as they meet some straightforward qualifications, associate with a California attorney, and haven’t been abusing the privilege by doing it a lot. All states, including California, have rules allowing out-of-state lawyers to practice in their state on select cases. California’s rules are located in the California Rules of Court section 9.40. The concept is called “Pro Hac Vice,” a Latin term meaning “for this occasion.”
The application is made to both the local state Superior Court that has the case, and to the California State Bar (CSB.) The judge handling the case will decide if the out-of-state lawyer can appear on the case. The CSB will have a duplicate set of all the application paperwork online because while a lawyer is working in California, he is subject to the rules and discipline of the CSB. And, the CSB will ask for $50 in order to process and hold the paperwork.
First, the judge will want to know three things:
1) Is the applying lawyer a resident of California?
2) Is the applying lawyer regularly employed in California?
3) Is the applying lawyer engaged in substantial business in California?
If the answer to any of these questions is “Yes,” the application will likely be denied. The reason is that California wants lawyers to take the formal California state bar examination if they live in or act as lawyers in California on a regular basis. The judge will also want to know how many times an applicant has used “Pro Hac Vice” in the past few years. They can be denied if they are abusing the privilege, although the exact number of “too many” appearances is never spelled out.
The application should contain the following information:
1) The court case number and location.
2) Declaration by the applying lawyer, describing their qualifications and relationship to the case.
3) Declaration of the licensing status in their home state. (Typically from the licensing agency of that state.)
4) Identity of a licensed California attorney associated with the case.
The Law Offices of David R. Silldorf has had experience with “Pro Hac Vice,” has worked with, appeared for, and been “local” counsel for clients who also want an out-of-state lawyer on their case. Please contact us if you are an attorney or client who wants to appear “Pro Hac Vice.”