"The failure of out-of-state attorneys and their Indiana co-counsel to comply...is neither trivial nor rare."
Indiana’s recent munificence in allowing mediators to draw up family law papers reflecting the agreements they hammer out – without concern over potential prosecution for the unauthorized practice of law – extends no further.
Unchaining the mediators earlier this year followed a lengthy, painful policy review in which the state bar repeatedly objected, until the Supreme Court, facing an avalanche of pro se litigants concentrated in family courts, stepped in.
Now, the Indiana Supreme Court has issued a stern warning that its UPL beneficence does not encompass neighboring state lawyers, or Indiana-licensed attorneys who fail to report what the court considers to be ethics violations.
Private Reprimand for Indiana Attorney
The court issued a private reprimand to an Indiana lawyer who associated with a Kentucky colleague who had failed, it turns out, to jump through the hoops of pro hoc vice registration requirements.
The high court made an example of the Indiana lawyer.
“Indiana attorneys serving as local counsel for out-of-state attorneys are hereby advised of the importance of their duty to ensure complete and timely compliance with all the requirements of Admission and Discipline Rule 3(2),” the court wrote. “Indiana attorneys who neglect that duty in future cases may be subject to more stringent discipline.”
600 Lawyers Excluded From Practice This Year
For those who don’t know, temporary pro hoc vice admission requires: (1) payment of a temporary admission fee to the Clerk of the Supreme Court (2) possession of a temporary admission attorney number from the Clerk. (3) submission of a “Verified Petition for Temporary Admission” in the court in which the case is pending. (4) possession of an order granting temporary admission in the case, (5) filing of a “Notice of Temporary Admission” with the Clerk of the Supreme Court within 30 days of the date of order.
“If the attorney fails to do so, the attorney is automatically excluded from the practice of law in all actions in this State,” according to the opinion.
More than 600 notices for such automatic exclusion for practice have gone out this year so far and the court has granted automatic exclusion relief to just 140 out-of-state attorneys, according to Indiana Lawyer.
“Assisting in the unauthorized practice of law”
The opinion, entitled “In the matter of Anonymous,” involved a Kentucky lawyer representing a Kentucky client who alleged injuries sustained in a restaurant across the border in Indiana. “Anonymous”, an Indiana lawyer, associated with the Kentucky lawyer for the case.
“Thus, an out-of-state attorney may seek temporary admission in an Indiana court only if a member of the bar of this state has appeared and agreed to act as co-counsel,” according to the opinion. The Indiana attorney must sign all documents. “This signature constitutes a certificate that, to the best of co-counsel’s knowledge, information and belief, there is good ground to support the document.”
Because the Kentucky lawyer failed to follow the pro hoc vice rules, the Indiana lawyer was guilty of ethical breaches for “assisting in the unauthorized practice of law.”