Rule 5.5 (Unauthorized Practice of Law; MJP Practice of Law) and Rule 8.5 (Disciplinary Authority; Choice of Law) of the Vermont Rules of Professional Conduct encompass the Multijurisdictional Practice Rules (MJP) in Vermont (not including rules relating to attorneys licensed in foreign countries). For general information about MJP, please see the MJP General page.
Rule 5.5 provides safe harbors for legal practices that out-of-state attorneys may perform in Vermont without engaging in the unauthorized practice of law. Rule 8.5 recognizes that attorneys practicing in more than one jurisdiction will likely be subject to conflicting admission rules, court rules, or rules of professional conduct. Rule 8.5 attempts to minimize such conflicts and the uncertainty regarding which rules are applicable by establishing the set of rules governing the attorney’s conduct. Attorneys should consult both of the MJP rules, as well as the other Vermont admission rules and the rules regulating the attorney’s home jurisdiction, in order to avoid the unauthorized practice of law.
Rule 5.5, particularly 5.5(c) and (d), and the applicable comments, and Reporter’s Notes allow active attorneys licensed in other jurisdictions who regularly practice law, and who are not disbarred or suspended from the practice of law, to practice in Vermont on a temporary basis and to practice as house counsel. Attorneys must be on active status. (Comment 7).
Vermont’s MJP Rule 5.5 is the ABA Model Rule 5.5.
Rule 5.5 generally prohibits attorneys from practicing law in a jurisdiction in a way that would violate the regulation of the legal profession in that jurisdiction. Out-of-state attorneys cannot establish an office or other systematic and continuous presence in Vermont for the practice of law and cannot represent or hold himself of herself out to the public as being admitted to practice in Vermont.
The temporary practices include:
Vermont does not offer specific rules related to house counsel practice. However, Vermont’s MJP rule exempts house attorneys from the unauthorized practice of law and the prohibition against establishing an office or other systematic and continuous presence in Vermont.
Attorneys may also render services in Vermont authorized by Vermont or federal law. (5.5(d)(2)). Practice under this MJP rule exempts attorneys from the prohibition against establishing an office or other systematic and continuous presence in Vermont.
Vermont’s Rule 8.5 is the ABA Model Rule 8.5.
Disciplinary Authority. A lawyer admitted to practice in Vermont is subject to the disciplinary authority of Vermont, regardless of where the lawyer’s conduct occurs. A lawyer not admitted in Vermont is also subject to the disciplinary authority of Vermont if the lawyer provides or offers to provide any legal services in Vermont. A lawyer may be subject to the disciplinary authority of both Vermont and another jurisdiction for the same conduct. (8.5(a)).
Choice of Law. The Vermont Rules of Professional Conduct are applied as follows:
For conduct in connection with a matter pending before a tribunal, the applicable rules are those of the jurisdiction where the tribunal sits, unless the rules of the tribunal provide otherwise. (8.5(b)(1)).
For any other conduct, the applicable rules are those of the jurisdiction where the lawyer’s conduct occurred, or, if the predominant effect of the conduct is in a different jurisdiction, the rules of that jurisdiction will be applied to the conduct. A lawyer is not subject to discipline if the lawyer’s conduct conforms to the rules of a jurisdiction where the lawyer reasonably believes the predominant effect of the lawyer’s conduct will occur. (8.5(b)(2)).