Inquiry is made concerning the ethical propriety of employment of lawyers admitted to practice in other jurisdictions but not admitted to practice in Tennessee.
The issue to be addressed arises from the increasing tendency of lawyers to move about the country and the increasing specialization of the bar. Tennessee lawyers and law firms are, with increased frequency, employing lawyers to work in their offices in Tennessee who have not been admitted in Tennessee. These lawyers may promptly apply for admission, but because of the delays inherent in the admissions process, there may be a period of months between the date of their employment and the date of their actual admission.
Inquiry is made concerning specific circumstances, to-wit:
Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 7, Section 1.01, provides:
License Required. No person shall engage in the 'practice of law' or the 'law business' in Tennessee, except pursuant to the authority of this Court, as evidenced by a license issued in accordance with this Rule, or in accordance with the provisions of this Rule governing special or limited practice.
For the limited purpose of this Ethics Opinion only, the practice of law within the jurisdiction of Tennessee by lawyers admitted to practice in other jurisdictions constitutes the unauthorized practice of law, except: (1) When permitted to appear pro hac vice; and (2) when making limited appearances before Federal courts or agencies.
Disciplinary Rule 3-101 of the Code of Professional Responsibility embodied in Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 8 prohibits a lawyer from aiding a non-lawyer in the unauthorized practice of law, however.
During the interim that the foreign lawyer has an active application pending and under consideration for admission to practice in Tennessee, the specific inquires herein are answered as follows:
This 8th day of March, 2002.
Kim A. McMillan, Chair
Michelle A. Benjamin
Jack W. Robinson, Sr.
APPROVED AND ADOPTED BY THE BOARD