85-F-91 - Vacated*

*Vacated by the Board of Professional Responsibility on September 11, 2015 due to changes in the law or rules.

FORMAL ETHICS OPINION 85-F-91


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:
(1) Must such unadmitted lawyers function only under
the direct supervision of licensed Tennessee
attorneys?
(2) Must they be identified and function as clerks?
(3) Can their names appear as attorneys on firm
letterheads?
(4) Does a reference such as "admitted in Texas"
suffice, especially when the firm has no offices in
"Texas"?
(5) May their names appear on building and other
directories?
(6) In general, what precautions, if any, must the
employing firm or lawyer take to assure that no
violation of the prohibitions against unauthorized
practice occurs?
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
85-F-91 Page 2
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; or
(2) when making limited appearances before Federal courts or agencies; or (3) when the
foreign lawyer has an active application pending and under consideration by the
Tennessee State Board of Law Examiners for admission to practice in Tennessee.
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:
(1) The unadmitted lawyers must function only under
the direct supervision of licensed Tennessee
attorneys.
(2) They are not required to be identified and function
as clerks.
(3) Their names may appear on firm letterheads,
provided,
(4) There is reference or designation on the letterhead
that they are admitted only in the jurisdiction where
they are licensed.
(5) Their names may not appear on buildings or
building directories.
(6) The employing law firm or lawyer shall be
responsible for the ethical and professional
obligations of the unadmitted foreign attorney and
shall sign all pleadings, motions, briefs, etc. and the
Tennessee lawyer shall personally appear for all
court proceedings, unless excused by the court in
which the case is pending.
85-F-91 Page 3
This 29th day of April , 1985.
ETHICS COMMITTEE:
Edwin C. Townsend, Chairman
W. J. Flippin
Henry H. Hancock
APPROVED AND ADOPTED BY THE BOARD