Chapter 4. Ethics & Professionalism - Multijurisdictional practice

4:12. Multijurisdictional Practice

It is increasingly common for Georgia tort lawyers to venture into other states to interview potential clients, interview witnesses, participate in depositions, mediation and arbitration in connection with Georgia cases, and to appear as counsel in courts of other states. Recognizing the nationwide mobility of lawyers' activities, ABA Model Rule 5.5 authorizes, in the states where it is adopted,1 a broad range of professional activity crossing state lines.2

The most pertinent provisions of Georgia's version of Rule 5.53 are as follows:

  • (a) A lawyer shall not practice law in a jurisdiction in violation of the regulation of the legal profession in that jurisdiction, or assist another in doing so.

  • (b) A Domestic Lawyer4 shall not:

    • (1) except as authorized by these Rules or other law, establish an office or other systematic and continuous presence in this jurisdiction for the practice of law; or

    • (2) hold out to the public or otherwise represent that the Domestic Lawyer is admitted to practice law in this jurisdiction.

  • (c) A Domestic Lawyer, who is not disbarred or suspended from practice in any jurisdiction, may provide legal services on a temporary basis in this jurisdiction that:

    • (1) are undertaken in association with a lawyer who is admitted to practice in this jurisdiction and who actively participates in the matter;

    • (2) are in or reasonably related to a pending or potential proceeding before a tribunal in this or another jurisdiction, if the Domestic Lawyer, or a person the Domestic Lawyer is assisting, is authorized by law or order to appear in such proceeding or reasonably expects to be so authorized;

    • (3) are in or reasonably related to a pending or potential arbitration, mediation, or other alternative dispute resolution proceeding in this or another jurisdiction, if the services arise out of or are reasonably related to the Domestic Lawyer's practice in a jurisdiction in which the Domestic Lawyer is admitted to practice and are not services for which the forum requires pro hac vice admission; or

    • (4) are not within paragraphs (c)(2) or (c)(3) and arise out of or are reasonably related to the Domestic Lawyer's practice in a jurisdiction in which the Domestic Lawyer is admitted to practice.

  • (d) A Domestic Lawyer, who is not disbarred or suspended from practice in any jurisdiction, may provide legal services in this jurisdiction that:

    • (1) are provided to the Domestic Lawyer's employer or its organizational affiliates and are not services for which the forum requires pro hac vice admission; or

    • (2) are services that the Domestic Lawyer is authorized to provide by federal law or other law of this jurisdiction.

In other jurisdictions that have adopted versions of Rule 5.5, a tort lawyer may do the professional work necessary for cases in Georgia. This may include interviews, investigation, depositions, obtaining from courts subpoenas for depositions and production of documents for use in the Georgia case, mediations, arbitration, etc. In addition, in a state that adopted this rule, a Georgia lawyer may participate in such activities related to cases in that state if local counsel is associated, and a defense lawyer who is an employee of an insurance company or self-insured corporation may provide for the company any legal services that do not require admission pro hac vice in a court of that state.

As Rule 5.5 is adopted in other states, it broadens opportunities for Georgia lawyers to develop regional or national practices in specialized practice niches, and to serve as local counsel for lawyers from other jurisdictions who do so. At the same time, it increases competition for specialized legal services. The opportunities and challenges of multijurisdictional practice affect both plaintiff and defense lawyers almost equally, though of course the details of those effects will differ broadly in various practice settings.




1 Some form of multijurisdictional practice rule based upon ABA Model Rule of Professional Conduct 5.5 has been adopted or recommended for adoption in most states. See State Impl. of Model Rule 5.5, http://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/migrated/cpr/mjp/recommedations.authcheckdam.pdf.

2 The emerging topic of international trade in legal services is beyond the scope of this chapter as it does not yet routinely arise in tort litigation in Georgia, even though outsourcing of document review work by large corporations and law firms has become increasingly common. See generally Terry, From GATS To APEC: The Impact of Trade Agreements on Legal Services, 43 Akron L. Rev. 675 (2010).

3 State Bar of Georgia, Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 5.5.

4 As used in the rules, “Domestic Lawyer” is defined as an attorney authorized to practice law in some other United States territory or state but not in Georgia. See Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct, Terminology.

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