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Rules for Former Attorney Employment Clarified

On December 11, 2006, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania adopted an amendment to Rule 217(j) of the Pennsylvania Rules of Disciplinary Enforcement. Previously, this section had defined the limits of activities which a formerly admitted attorney (disbarred, suspended, or on inactive status) could perform while "employed" by a law office. The new language makes it clear that the provisions of this subsection apply whenever a formerly admitted attorney is "engaged by a law firm or other organization providing legal services, whether by employment or other relationship."

This amendment was proposed after an issue came up in several disciplinary cases as to whether Rule 217(j) applied in a situation where a law office hired a formerly admitted attorney as an "independent contractor" rather than an "employee" was subject to the requirements of Rule 217(j). The rule change makes it clear that those requirements apply to any working arrangement between a formerly admitted attorney and a law office or other legal organization.

The amendment will be effective immediately upon publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin as to lawyers suspended, disbarred, or inactive as of that date, and after thirty (30) days as to lawyers suspended, disbarred, or inactive after that date.