Wisconsin Lawyer: Ethics: Representing Clients in Illinois:

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    Ethics: Representing Clients in Illinois

    The Illinois Supreme Court has adopted multijurisdictional practice rules, with the result that, under certain limited conditions, Wisconsin-licensed lawyers may represent their clients in matters that arise in Illinois or under Illinois law.

    Dean R. Dietrich

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    Wisconsin LawyerWisconsin Lawyer
    Vol. 83, No. 5, May 2010

    Question

    I understand that I can now represent clients in Illinois, even though I am only licensed to practice law in Wisconsin. Is that true?

    Answer

    The Illinois Supreme Court has recently adopted a new Supreme Court Rule that addresses multijurisdictional practices. Wisconsin adopted a rule with similar language that became effective Jan. 1, 2009 (SCR 20:5.5(b)).

    Now, under certain conditions, a lawyer licensed to practice law only in Wisconsin may represent the interests of her client in a legal matter involving Illinois law and not be prosecuted for the unauthorized practice of law by the Illinois Supreme Court. The situations under which this representation may occur are limited, but the door is now open for a Wisconsin lawyer to represent her Wisconsin clients in a matter that arises in Illinois or that is subject to the jurisdiction of an Illinois court. The new rule in Illinois does not, however, allow a Wisconsin-licensed lawyer to set up an office in Illinois or hold herself out as licensed to practice law in Illinois.

    The new provision in the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct (Rule 5.5) took effect Jan. 1, 2010, and provides in part as follows:

    (c) A lawyer admitted in another U.S. jurisdiction, and not disbarred or suspended from practice in any jurisdiction, may provide legal services on a temporary basis in this jurisdiction that:

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

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

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

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

    (d) A lawyer admitted in another U.S. jurisdiction and not disbarred or suspended from practice in any jurisdiction may provide legal services in this jurisdiction that:

    (d)(1) are provided to the lawyer’s employer or its organizational affiliates and are not services for which the forum requires pro hac vice admission; or

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

    The new Illinois Rule is similar to the ABA Model Rule that addresses multijurisdictional practice. It is important to note that a lawyer may provide the legal services only on a temporary basis in Illinois and only under the conditions described. These include instances when 1) the lawyer is actively participating in a legal matter with an Illinois-licensed lawyer; 2) the lawyer is admitted pro hac vice to an Illinois court proceeding or anticipates being admitted pro hac vice in the court proceeding; 3) the legal services are related to a pending or anticipated alternative dispute resolution procedure in Illinois and the lawyer’s services are related to the lawyer’s practice in Wisconsin; or 4) the lawyer’s services are reasonably related to the lawyer’s practice in Wisconsin, meaning that the legal services are reasonably related to the representation of a client of the lawyer in her Wisconsin-based practice.

    Dean 
Dietrich

    Dean R. Dietrich, Marquette 1977, of Ruder Ware, Wausau, is chair of the State Bar Professional Ethics Committee.

    There are specific rules for lawyers who are employees of an entity or are providing legal services pursuant to federal law or Illinois statutory law. These exceptions allow the lawyer to practice in Illinois without being licensed in Illinois, but the exceptions are applied on a very restricted basis.

    Illinois has now become one of the many states that have adopted multijurisdictional practice rules. Wisconsin has previously adopted its version of Model Rule 5.5, which is similar to the Illinois rule. Thus, there is a great degree of consistency between the two states. To learn more about multijurisdictional practice (MJP) issues, including a list of states adopting or considering adopting MJP rules, visit the ABA Commission on Multijurisdictional Practice, at www.abanet.org/cpr/mjp/home.html.




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