In Re Harris

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Professional Responsibility
  • Date Filed: 05-21-2020
  • Case #: S066593
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Per Curium
  • Full Text Opinion

The exception to the rule against the unauthorized practice of law provided under RPC 5.5(c) applies to an out-of-state lawyer in good standing who is awaiting reciprocal admission to the Oregon State Bar and meets at least one of the criteria set out in RPC 5.5(c)(1) to (5), even if he has accepted permanent employment in Oregon.

The Oregon State Bar appealed the decision of a trial panel of the Disciplinary Board. Respondent, a member in good standing of two other state bars, served as general counsel for an Oregon employer before gaining reciprocal admission. The Bar charged Respondent with violating RPC 5.5(a) and RPC 5.5(b)(1). The panel concluded that Respondent did not commit the charged violations because of the exception provided under RPC 5.5(c), which allows an out-of-state lawyer to “provide legal services on a temporary basis” without Bar membership. The panel concluded that Respondent met the preconditions of RPC 5.5(c) and that his employment was “unambiguously temporary.” The Bar argued that RPC 5.5(c) did apply because Respondent accepted a permanent position and began working and, therefore, he was not providing legal services on a “temporary basis.” Respondent argued that his practice was necessarily temporary because if he were denied reciprocal admission, he would have lost his job. The Court held that the applicability of RPC 5.5(c) turns on “what condition or circumstance must be temporary for the exception to apply.” Because Respondent was in good standing in other jurisdictions, provided legal services to his employer and no forum required admission pro hac vice, applied for reciprocal admission within a reasonable time, and his continued employment was condition on his admission to the Bar, RPC 5.5(c) applies. Even if the applicability of RPC 5.5(c) turned on the meaning of “temporary,” the Court held that Respondent’s practice was “temporary” within any definition. The Court emphasized that “temporary” is not synonymous with “indefinite,” but did not set the outer boundaries of the concept. The Court concluded that Respondent did not violate RPC 5.5(a) or RPC 5.5(b)(1). Dismissed.

Advanced Search

Back to Top