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2021 California Rules of Court

Rule 9.48. Nonlitigating attorneys temporarily in California to provide legal services

(a) Definitions

The following definitions apply to terms used in this rule:

(1)  "A transaction or other nonlitigation matter" includes any legal matter other than litigation, arbitration, mediation, or a legal action before an administrative decision-maker.

(2)  "Active attorney in good standing of the bar of a United States state, jurisdiction, possession, territory, or dependency" means an attorney who meets all of the following criteria:

(A)  Is a licensee in good standing of the entity governing the practice of law in each jurisdiction in which the attorney is licensed to practice law;

(B)  Remains an active attorney in good standing of the entity governing the practice of law in at least one United States state, jurisdiction, possession, territory, or dependency other than California while practicing law under this rule; and

(C)  Has not been disbarred, has not resigned with charges pending, or is not suspended from practicing law in any other jurisdiction.

(Subd (a) amended effective January 1, 2019; adopted as subd (h) effective November 15, 2004; previously relettered effective January 1, 2007.)

(b) Requirements

For an attorney to practice law under this rule, the attorney must:

(1)  Maintain an office in a United States jurisdiction other than California and in which the attorney is licensed to practice law;

(2)  Already be retained by a client in the matter for which the attorney is providing legal services in California, except that the attorney may provide legal advice to a potential client, at the potential client's request, to assist the client in deciding whether to retain the attorney;

(3)  Indicate on any Web site or other advertisement that is accessible in California either that the attorney is not a licensee of the State Bar of California or that the attorney is admitted to practice law only in the states listed; and

(4)  Be an active attorney in good standing of the bar of a United States state, jurisdiction, possession, territory, or dependency.

(Subd (b) amended effective January 1, 2019; adopted as subd (a) effective November 15, 2004; previously relettered effective January 1, 2007.)

(c) Permissible activities

An attorney who meets the requirements of this rule and who complies with all applicable rules, regulations, and statutes is not engaging in the unauthorized practice of law in California if the attorney:

(1)  Provides legal assistance or legal advice in California to a client concerning a transaction or other nonlitigation matter, a material aspect of which is taking place in a jurisdiction other than California and in which the attorney is licensed to provide legal services;

(2)  Provides legal assistance or legal advice in California on an issue of federal law or of the law of a jurisdiction other than California to attorneys licensed to practice law in California; or

(3)  Is an employee of a client and provides legal assistance or legal advice in California to the client or to the client's subsidiaries or organizational affiliates.

(Subd (c) relettered effective January 1, 2007; adopted as subd (b) effective November 15, 2004.)

(d) Restrictions

To qualify to practice law in California under this rule, an attorney must not:

(1)  Hold out to the public or otherwise represent that he or she is admitted to practice law in California;

(2)  Establish or maintain a resident office or other systematic or continuous presence in California for the practice of law;

(3)  Be a resident of California;

(4)  Be regularly employed in California;

(5)  Regularly engage in substantial business or professional activities in California; or

(6)  Have been disbarred, have resigned with charges pending, or be suspended from practicing law in any other jurisdiction.

(Subd (d) amended and relettered effective January 1, 2007; adopted as subd (c) effective November 15, 2004.)

(e) Conditions

By practicing law in California under this rule, an attorney agrees that he or she is providing legal services in California subject to:

(1)  The jurisdiction of the State Bar of California;

(2)  The jurisdiction of the courts of this state to the same extent as is a licensee of the State Bar of California; and

(3)  The laws of the State of California relating to the practice of law, the State Bar Rules of Professional Conduct, the rules and regulations of the State Bar of California, and these rules.

(Subd (e) amended effective January 1, 2019; adopted as subd (d) effective November 15, 2004; previously amended and relettered effective January 1, 2007.)

(f) Scope of practice

An attorney is permitted by this rule to provide legal assistance or legal services concerning only a transaction or other nonlitigation matter.

(Subd (f) relettered effective January 1, 2007; adopted as subd (e) effective November 15, 2004.)

(g) Inherent power of Supreme Court

Nothing in this rule may be construed as affecting the power of the Supreme Court of California to exercise its inherent jurisdiction over the practice of law in California.

(Subd (g) amended and relettered effective January 1, 2007; adopted as subd (f) effective November 15, 2004.)

(h) Effect of rule on multijurisdictional practice

Nothing in this rule limits the scope of activities permissible under existing law by attorneys who are not licensees of the State Bar of California.

(Subd (h) amended effective January 1, 2019; adopted as subd (g) effective November 15, 2004; previously relettered effective January 1,2007.)

Rule 9.48 amended effective January 1, 2019; adopted as rule 967 by the Supreme Court effective November 15, 2004; previously amended and renumbered effective January 1, 2007.

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