Rule 5.5 (Lawyers Not Admitted to the Bar of this State and the Lawful Practice of Law) and Rule 8.5 (Disciplinary Authority; Choice of Law) of the New Jersey Rules of Professional Conduct encompass the MJP rules in New Jersey (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 New Jersey 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 New Jersey 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(b), allows active attorneys licensed in another state, territory of the United States, Puerto Rico, or the District of Columbia to practice in New Jersey and to practice as New Jersey House Counsel. Attorneys must be licensed and in good standing in all jurisdictions where admitted and not the subject of any pending disciplinary proceeding or current or pending license suspension or disbarment.
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 practicing under this MJP rule are subject to the New Jersey Rules of Professional Conduct and must consent, and designate in writing on an approved form, to the appointment of the Clerk of the New Jersey Supreme Court as agent upon whom service of process may be made for all actions against the lawyer or the lawyer’s firm that arise out of the lawyer’s participation in legal matters in New Jersey. Attorneys engaged in ADR proceedings or Investigation and Discovery are deemed to have consented to the appointment without completing the form.
An out-of-state attorney cannot hold himself or herself out as being admitted to practice law in New Jersey. Attorneys must maintain a bona fide office in compliance with Rule 1:21-1(a). Attorneys admitted pro hac vice are allowed to maintain a bona fide office within the law office of the local New Jersey attorney. Except for attorneys engaged in an ADR proceeding or Investigation and Discovery, out-of-state attorneys engaged in a permitted
practice must annually register with the New Jersey Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection and comply with Rule 1:20-1(b) and (c), Rule 1:28-2, and Rule 1:28B-1(e) during the period of practice.
New Jersey allows the following practices for out-of-state attorneys that are not admitted in New Jersey. Attorneys must designate the Clerk for service. Forms can be found on the New Jersey Board of Bar Examiners’ Website under Admitted Attorneys.
House attorneys may practice under the New Jersey House Counsel Rules. (5.5(b)(2)).
Disciplinary Authority. A lawyer admitted to practice in New Jersey is subject to the disciplinary authority of New Jersey, regardless of where the lawyer’s conduct occurs.
A lawyer not admitted in New Jersey is also subject to the disciplinary authority of New Jersey if the lawyer provides or offers to provide any legal services in New Jersey. A lawyer may be subject to the disciplinary authority of both New Jersey and another jurisdiction for the same conduct. (8.5(a)).
Choice of Law. The rules of professional conduct should be 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. (8.5(b)(2)).