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Attention New York In-House Counsel Admitted in Other States: File by July 19 to Protect Your Right to Practice Law in New York!

Client Advisory

June 2, 2011
The New York State Court of Appeals announced a new attorney registration rule[1] that enables in-house counsel licensed out-of state to obtain a limited right to practice law in-state. The Court’s move allows such attorneys to eliminate the possibility that they are violating the prohibition on practicing law without a license when they provide legal advice to their New York employers. Current in-house counsel who hold their licenses to practice law from a U.S. jurisdiction[2] other than New York must file a registration application with the department of the New York Appellate Division in which they live or work by July 19, 2011. 
 
Who May Register?
 
The new rule applies broadly to any attorney employed full-time in New York by any legal entity other than a governmental entity or a legal services provider. Specifically, the rule defines in-house counsel as an attorney employed by a “non-governmental corporation, partnership, association or other legal entity” that is not “engaged in the practice of law or the rendering of legal services” outside the organization. [3]  
 
What is Required for Registration?
 
To register under the new rule, an in-house attorney must be licensed to practice law in another U.S. jurisdiction that has a reciprocal in-house counsel rule (most jurisdictions do), be a member in good standing, and possess the same good character and fitness required of members of the New York bar. Applicants must provide proof of the above, proof of employment in New York as an in-house counsel, and attestations of willingness to comply with certain New York laws governing their conduct. Applicants are not required to take the New York State bar exam.[4] 
 
Logistics of Registration
 
Applications must be filed with the Clerk of the Appellate Division in the department in which the applicant lives, works or will be working. Those currently serving as in-house counsel with out-of-state licenses must file an application by July 19, 2011. New in-house counsel must file within 30 days of their start date. 
 
Limited Right to Practice Law
 
An attorney registered as in-house counsel under Part 522 may provide legal services to his or her New York employer and its affiliates. Legal services may also be provided to employees, officers and directors of the employing entity, but only on “matters directly related to the attorney’s work” for the entity. Attorneys registered under Part 522 may not provide individual legal advice other than as just described, may not appear before a tribunal or make adjudicatory appearances that require pro hac vice admission for out-of-state attorneys, and may not otherwise hold themselves out as attorneys permitted to practice law in New York. An employer’s official letterhead may indicate that a registrant under Part 522 is authorized to practice as in-house counsel if the letterhead contains a “limiting designation.”[5]
 
Ongoing Obligations
 
An attorney registered under new Part 522 must maintain active membership in good standing in at least one U.S. jurisdiction and promptly notify the registrant’s Appellate Division department of any disposition in an out-of-state disciplinary action. Registrants must also abide by all applicable New York State laws governing attorney conduct. Finally, in-house counsel registered under Part 522 must register with the Office of Court Administration (“OCA”), pay the $375 registration fee, and renew biennially. The new rule and § 468-a of the Judiciary Act are unclear as to the date by which initial OCA registration is required. We would advise as a matter of good practice to register with OCA as soon as possible after filing with the Appellate Division. Biennial renewal is required within 30 days of the registrant’s birthday.[6] 
 
Termination
 
Registration as an in-house attorney under Part 522 is terminated if the attorney is no longer an active member of the bar of another U.S. jurisdiction; if the attorney is no longer employed as an in-house counsel (notice to the Appellate Division is required within 30 days of separation, but registration may be continued in many cases where the attorney is merely switching employers[7]); or the attorney fails to timely register with OCA.[8] 
 
 

Questions regarding this advisory should be addressed to Clifford P. Case III (212-238-8798, case@clm.com) or Karen E. Meara (212-238-8757, meara@clm.com).
 

 
Endnotes

[1] 22 NYCRR §§ 522.1-522.7.

[2] For purposes of this advisory, “U.S. Jurisdiction” means “highest law court in any other state or territory of the United States or in the District of Columbia.” 22 NYCRR § 522.1(b)(1).

[3] § 522.1.

[4] For detailed eligibility and filing requirements, please see § 522.1-522.2.

[5] See § 522.4.

[6] Judiciary Law, § 468-a.

[7] See § 522.5(a)(2) for detailed requirements for continuing in-house counsel registration when switching employers within a 30 day period. 

[8] § 522.5



Carter Ledyard & Milburn LLP uses Client Advisories to inform clients and other interested parties of noteworthy issues, decisions and legislation which may affect them or their businesses. A Client Advisory does not constitute legal advice or an opinion. This document was not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein. © 2017 Carter Ledyard & Milburn LLP.
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