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Schoenefeld v State of New York,

___ NY3d ___, 2015 NY Slip Op 02674 [2015]

The Court of Appeals has construed Judiciary Law § 470 as indeed meaning what it says: a non-resident attorney, admitted to the Bar of New York and in compliance with all other requirements, may practice before the courts of the state only if she maintains a physical office for the transaction of business in New York. In so holding, the Court almost certainly paved the way for the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit to invalidate the statute under the Privileges and Immunities Clause of the US Constitution.

The statute reads: 
“A person, regularly admitted to practice as an attorney and counsellor, in the courts of record of this state, whose office for the transaction of law business is within the state, may practice as such attorney or counsellor, although he resides in an adjoining state.”

The Court responded to a certified question from the Second Circuit. (Schoenefeld v State of New York, 748 F.3d 464 [2d Circ., 2014]) Plaintiff Ekaterina Schoenefeld is a resident of New Jersey and a member of the New Jersey bar, whose only office is in Princeton. She has also been admitted to the bars of New York and California. She alleges in her complaint that she has in fact passed up the opportunity to represent clients in New York courts to avoid violating the Judiciary Law provision.

She sued in federal court, claiming that the requirement for the maintenance of an office in New York places a burden upon her and other non-resident attorneys, not placed upon residents. Read More