Courts Offer Registration to Out-of-State In-House Council

In-house attorneys who are not licensed to practice law in New York will nevertheless be able to offer legal advice in the state under new rules adopted by the Court of Appeals.

The rules approved by the state’s highest court, codified as 22 NYCRR Part 522, will allow out-of-state lawyers to provide counsel to private corporations, associations or other legal entities operating in New York, as well as to their employees, directors or officers.

The rules take effect on April 20.

The out-of-state lawyers must be in good standing in their home states, U.S. territories or the District of Columbia to win registration within their Appellate Division department.

The attorneys will not be allowed to provide legal services to the general public, appear before agencies or other tribunals, or provide pro bono services.

The rules are intended to solidify New York’s status as a center of commercial enterprise in the United States by making it easier for national and international companies to operate here, Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman said.

“By accommodating the growing need for the provision of in-house services, the new registration rules give New York a competitive edge in attracting corporations and other entities that in the past may have been reticent to locate here because of concerns over the unauthorized practice of law,” Judge Lippman said in a statement.

In addition, he said the rules should lead to New York lawyers being allowed to practice in other locales that offer reciprocity.

Forty-three other states and the District of Columbia have similar rules, the Office of Court Administration said yesterday.

The New York State Bar Association’s House of Delegates unanimously approved a resolution adopting the rules in November (NYLJ, Nov. 15, 2010).

Stephen P. Younger, president of the state bar, said yesterday that the change should encourage more businesses to create a presence in the state.

“This is a good measure for economic development in New York,” said Mr. Younger, of Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler.

The New York City Bar also endorsed the proposal.

“The new rules appropriately reflected the realities of modern practice, and we believe they will strengthen the high standards of our bar,” city bar president Samuel W. Seymour of Sullivan & Cromwell said yesterday in a statement.

The rules require lawyers seeking special registration as in-house counsels to pay New York’s biennial $375 registration fee, meet the state’s continuing legal education requirements and be subject to its disciplinary rules.

Advocates for the rule change in the state bar credited Steven Crane of Proskauer Rose, the group’s president in 2001-2002, as an early supporter of easing the state’s registration rules for in-house counsels. Mr. Crane died last summer.