Source: OTHERWISE: Remote Work: San Francisco Bar Association Advice in Ethics Opinion 2021-1 – Legal Ethics Advisorremotework
[Issue date: August 2021]
Is a lawyer, who is licensed in one or more jurisdictions but practices law remotely from another jurisdiction where the lawyer
resides and is not licensed, engaged in the unauthorized practice of law?
A lawyer who is not licensed in California, and who does not advertise or otherwise hold himself or herself out as a licensed
California lawyer, does not establish an office or other systematic or continuous presence for the practice of law in
California, and does not represent a California person or entity, but is merely physically present in California while using
modern technology to remotely practice law in compliance with the rules of the jurisdiction where the lawyer is licensed,
should not be held in violation of California’s Unauthorized Practice of Law (“UPL”) rule and laws, specifically California
Rules of Professional Conduct (“CRPC”) Rule 5.5, or the State Bar Act, Business & Professions (“B&P”) Code §§6125-6126.
If such a lawyer does represent a California person or entity, whether the lawyer violates the UPL rule and laws will depend
on the nature of the representation, whether the representation complies with the regulations of the jurisdiction where the
lawyer is licensed, the role of other California lawyers in the representation, and other factors relevant to whether the
California client is protected consistent with the purpose of the UPL rule and laws.
A lawyer who is licensed to practice law in California, but who resides in another jurisdiction where the lawyer is not licensed
while continuing to remotely practice law under the lawyer’s California license, must adhere to California’s rules and law as
required to maintain a California law license and must also comply with the applicable regulations of the jurisdiction where
the lawyer resides but is not licensed. CRPC Rule 5.5(a); see also ABA Model Rule 5.5(a). A California lawyer who fails to
comply with that jurisdiction’s UPL regulations could be at risk for criminal and/or civil liability and could also be at risk for
discipline for violation of CRPC Rule 5.5(a).
California Rules of Professional Conduct, rule 5.5. Business and Professions Code sections 6125, 6126.