To The Readers of The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel:
Readers of The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel are well aware that the practice of law for in-house counsel is increasingly national, and even global, in scope. New York State, however, currently lacks bar admission rules permitting in-house practice by lawyers admitted and in good standing in other jurisdictions who are employed by companies, businesses, non-profit organizations or other entities located within the state. The New York State Bar Association recently approved a proposal to address this.
The New York State Bar Association's House of Delegates approved recommendations for the licensing of in-house counsel in New York. A report prepared by the State Bar's Committee on Standards of Attorney Conduct, together with the New York City Bar Association and the New York County Lawyers' Association, calls on the New York Court of Appeals to promulgate admission rules allowing lawyers to practice in-house in New York without passing the New York bar exam and without meeting practice requirements required for admission on motion.
Recognizing the reality of law practice in the 21st Century, 44 states plus the District of Columbia have already adopted similar rules to the ones we are proposing. The benefits are numerous. First, the licensing of in-house counsel will reinforce New York's competitive advantage in attracting large companies, non-profits and other entities that may now be reluctant to locate here due to potential concerns about unauthorized-practice-of-law. New York's current outlier status undermines the State's position as a business and non-profit capital of the world.
If the proposal is adopted, lawyers would be able to move to New York and have a clear right to represent their business client in the State. This new licensing rule also would encourage business organizations to move to New York and bring their out of state lawyers with them. For the public, the lawyers would be subject to the same discipline as any admitted New York lawyer, thereby offering a protection that does not now exist if a non-New York attorney works for a business client here.
It is our hope that this united effort will help persuade the New York Court of Appeals that the time has come for New York to adopt these important rules allowing for the registration of in-house counsel.
Stephen P. Younger