Three separate rules govern pro hac vice admission in Pennsylvania. Rule 301 (Pro Hac Vice) of the Pennsylvania Bar Admission Rules, Rule 1012.1 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure, and Rules 81.501 through 81.506 of the Pennsylvania Code (IOLTA Rules and Regulations) provide the rules regarding admission for attorneys licensed in other jurisdictions who are seeking pro hac vice admission. The primary source of information for pro hac vice admission can be found with the Pennsylvania IOLTA Board.
Eligible attorneys are not licensed in Pennsylvania but are authorized to practice law in the highest court of another state or foreign jurisdiction. The pro hac vice requirements apply to attorneys employed by the government and non-profit agencies.
Pro hac vice admission is required if attorneys enter an appearance in a Pennsylvania court. This includes any Pennsylvania court of common pleas, the Pennsylvania Superior Court, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, and any other Pennsylvania court established after the effective date of the pro hac vice rules.
Attorneys are not required to obtain pro hac vice admission for Magistrate District Courts, Municipal Courts, Traffic Courts, administrative agency proceedings, arbitrations, or situations that do not require an appearance before a Pennsylvania court (depositions).
Pro hac vice attorneys are not authorized to act as the attorney of record in the particular matter and must associate with a “sponsor,” who is an attorney admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar. The local sponsor must enter an appearance as the attorney of record on behalf of the client. Upon the granting of the pro hac vice motion, the local sponsor remains the attorney of record for the client, must sign and serve or be served, all notices, orders, pleadings, and other documents filed in the action. He or she must also attend all proceedings before the court, unless otherwise excused by the court. The local sponsor is not required to attend a deposition, unless otherwise ordered by the court.
A pro hac vice appearance commences with the attorney’s first appearance and continues until the final determination of the case, which includes appeals. Attorneys must submit a separate payment form and admission fee for each case.
Attorneys are required to complete the Application and submit the payment form to the IOLTA Board. The fee is $200 but is not required for eligible indigent clients. The Board will process the payments within three business days and then send an Acknowledgement Letter as proof of payment.
A Pennsylvania Bar member must then file the motion for pro hac vice admission with the court at least three days before the nonresident attorney’s appearance. The motion will contain the Acknowledgment Letter, the attorney’s verified statement, and the local sponsor’s verified statements.
The attorney’s verified statement must:
- Identify the jurisdictions where he or she has been licensed and the corresponding bar licensed numbers. For each jurisdiction, the attorney must state whether he or she:
- Is or has ever been suspended, disbarred, or otherwise disciplined. The attorney must provide a description of the circumstances for each occurrence of suspension, disbarment, or other disciplinary action.
- Is subject to any disciplinary proceedings. The attorney must provide a description of the circumstances under which the disciplinary action has been brought.
- Set forth the number of the pending actions in all courts of record in Pennsylvania where the attorney has applied for pro hac vice admission and the number of times the motion has been denied. For any denial, the attorney must list the caption, court, and docket number of the action, and describe the reasons for the denial of the motion.
- State that he or she will comply with and be bound by the applicable statutes, case law, and procedural rules of Pennsylvania. This includes the Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct.
- State that he or she will submit to the jurisdiction of the Pennsylvania courts and the Pennsylvania Disciplinary Board for acts and omissions occurring during the appearance in the matter.
- State that he or she has consented to the appointment of the sponsor as the agent upon whom service of process must be made for all actions, including disciplinary actions, that may arise out of the matter.
The local sponsor is also required to submit a verified statement that states:
- After reasonable investigation, he or she reasonably believes the attorney is a reputable and competent attorney and is in a position to recommend the attorney’s admission.
- Sets forth the number of cases in all courts of record in Pennsylvania where he or she is acting as the sponsor of a candidate for pro hac vice admission.
- The proceeds from the settlement of a cause of action where the candidate is granted admission pro hac vice will be received, held, distributed, and accounted for in accordance with Rule 1.15 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct, including IOLTA provisions if applicable.
The court will grant the motion unless the court, in its discretion, finds good cause for the denial. Good cause may include:
- The admission may be detrimental to the prompt, fair, and efficient administration of justice.
- The admission may be detrimental to legitimate interests of the parties to the proceedings other than the client.
- The client may be at risk of receiving inadequate representation and cannot adequately appreciate that risk.
- The attorney is not competent or ethically fit to practice law.
- The attorney is, in effect, practicing as a Pennsylvania attorney, in light of the nature and extent of the activities in Pennsylvania without complying with the Pennsylvania requirements for admission to the Bar. The court may consider the number of other admissions sought or obtained in Pennsylvania, whether the attorney maintains an office in Pennsylvania, and other relevant factors.
- The number of cases in all Pennsylvania courts of record where the Pennsylvania attorney is acting as the sponsor prohibits the adequate supervision of the attorney.
- Failing to comply with the pro hac vice rules.
- Any other reason the court deems appropriate.
Attorneys are not required to take the oath of admission.
Attorneys may submit a single check to pay for more than one pro hac vice admission, but all payment forms must be submitted together with the total fee. Law firms cannot submit a payment form for the firm that covers multiple attorneys.
The court may revoke the admission to practice sua sponte or upon a motion of a party if, after a hearing or other meaningful opportunity to respond, the continued admission is inappropriate or inadvisable.