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  • Thursday, April 24, 2008

    The itchy and scratchy show.

    Ugh. Allergies. Tree pollen. The car was yellow with pollen this morning. Nasty. It's driving me nutz.

    And in other news, I have my first hearing tomorrow, assuming the claimant shows up. It's not a real court hearing, but an administrative one. Kinda like a practice hearing or a hearing with training wheels. I can't even say that I'm in court tomorrow 'cuz that's not the case. But I am playing lawyer, even though I don't have to be one to present my case. But since I am, I did have to file a notice of appearance.

    The bigger question that I spent much time trying to get a concrete answer for was whether I needed to file a petition for admission pro hac vice because I am not a member of the DC bar. If an attorney is not a member of the DC bar, the circumstances under which s/he can appear in DC courts are proscribed by the rules on the unauthorized practice of law. While this is only an admin hearing, the hearing office follows the rules of the DC court.

    So what does that mean? Well, there are a number of exceptions that allow non-DC barred attorneys to practice in DC. And I do fit under the major exception -- an attorney working for the federal government and practicing on behalf of an agency.

    So you would think it would be clear that I am okay. I won't be violating the rules, so I don't need to file pro hac vice, right? You would think.

    Even though I clearly fall under an exception such that my appearance would not be a violation of the rules, there is still no explicit guidance whether an attorney who is covered by an exception must still file pro hac vice as a practical procedural matter. So even though I know I am not running afoul of the rules such that I, as an attorney, could get in trouble for the unauthorized practice of law, I don't know if the hearing office still requires a temporary admission to appear. The forms as written do not address my circumstances, so that makes me think that I don't need to file. On the other hand, the clerk at the hearing office says that I must file pro hac vice because all out-of-state attorneys must do so... but then again, it's clear that he doesn't understand the nuance of my situation. And he told me to read the DC rules. Which takes me back to the exception (which says I'm okay) but still provides no guidance for the actual court procedures.


    So, I called two lawyers who deal with issues of unauthorized practice in DC (they are on the committee), and both agreed that I was okay and clearly fell under the exception. The second lawyer worked for DOJ, and she agreed that, not only wouldn't I be in violation, but also that I didn't need to file pro hac vice. Her reasoning was that attorneys at the US Attorney's office appear in DC courts all of the time without filing pro hac vice, and not all of them are members of the DC bar. So I should be okay too. And even if it is a problem, I made good faith efforts to resolve them properly.

    All this for a friggin' administrative hearing. Sheesh.

    So that's where I am. Not filing it but appearing. We'll see how it goes. Tomorrow morning.

    Do you think scratching my eyes out from these allergies will detract from my presentation and case?


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