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New rules establish more standardized and efficient procedures for out-of-state lawyers

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania has created a uniform process for eligible out-of-state lawyers to apply for permission to participate in a particular case in the Commonwealth.

Separate orders to amend rules governing civil case procedures and attorney professional conduct were issued today by the Supreme Court with the aim of establishing a standardized method for determining eligibility to practice in Pennsylvania as counsel pro hac vice — a legal term meaning “for this occasion.” The orders take effect Sept. 4. They are published as follows:

In addition to the new standards, the court also adopted a first-time-ever fee for pro hac vice admission, and designated the proceeds to go to the Interest On Lawyers Trust Account program, which funds civil legal services for Pennsylvanians who cannot afford to pay for those services. The fee applies to those practicing in the state’s trial and appellate courts. The fee is set at $100.00 for each case in which the attorney appears pro hac vice. The fee is not required if the client has been granted in forma pauperis status.

Even though a lawyer may be admitted to practice in another state, he or she must request permission to appear as a counsel of record in the Commonwealth if not licensed here. While Pennsylvania currently requires such a request to be filed, there have been no uniform statewide rules to govern an evaluation of the application or an admission fee. New revisions to Rule 1012.1 of the Rules of Civil Procedure set forth requirements for what the motion for admission pro hac vice must state, and also require that the sponsoring attorney enter an appearance in the matter, remain attorney of record, and appear in all proceedings (other than depositions), unless excused by the court. Such a motion must be granted unless the court finds good cause to deny it, several grounds for which are set forth in the rule.

“These rule amendments underscore the Judiciary’s desire to do as much as possible to encourage and foster administrative standardization in Pennsylvania’s Unified Judicial System,” Chief Justice of Pennsylvania Ralph J. Cappy said. “Implementing a statewide pro hac vice admission process is yet another important step in enhancing efficiency in our court system, and promoting a more equitable approach to addressing attorneys not licensed in Pennsylvania who wish to practice in the Commonwealth on a limited basis.”

The new rules were adopted with input from the IOLTA Board, Pennsylvania’s Board of Law Examiners, Pennsylvania Lawyers Fund for Client Security Board and the Civil Procedural Rules Committee.