Pro Hac Vice and the ABA Model Rule

Generally, an attorney not licensed to practice in a specific jurisdiction is prohibited from practicing law in that jurisdiction. As multi-jurisdictional practice becomes more common, it is important to be aware of exceptions to that rule. One exception is the doctrine of admission pro hac vice, which permits the temporary admission of an unlicensed attorney to practice law in a specific jurisdiction and for a specific case. Every state has detailed rules governing pro hac vice admission. In addition, the American Bar Association (ABA) lays out many requirements for pro hac vice admission in the Model Rules. This post discusses the ABA Model Rule on pro hac vice. Often, the state Rules will use the same numbering, so it is convenient to check the Rule in different states.


Model Rule

Under ABA Model Rule for pro hac vice, an attorney from out-of-state attempting to represent a client in an in-state case must be eligible and submit a verified application to the jurisdiction in which the case is pending. To be eligible, an attorney must lawfully represent the client, reside out of state, and have the intention of only practicing law within the state temporarily. The application must include a proof of service to all of the parties involved in the case. Courts and administrative agencies have discretion over the approval of these applications.


Typically, applications for pro hac vice admission are granted. A court or administrative agency may deny the application for several reasons. First, it could find that approval would be detrimental to a prompt and efficient case. Second, it could determine that one of the clients will be receiving inadequate representation. Third, the attorney seeking pro hac vice admission could have appeared before the court so often that he or she could be considered to have a regular practice in the state. In addition, courts may have their own requirements that are independent from the ABA or the state rules, defining exactly how the attorney must be sponsored by local counsel, for instance.


Many jurisdictions require that a fee is submitted with the application. In Colorado that fee is $300. Pro bono representation is exempt from this fee. 


The out-of-state attorney is required to submit to the authority of the court and in-state jurisdictions. The out-of-state attorney is also required to become familiar with all applicable rules of professional conduct, disciplinary rules, local court rules, and court policies and procedures. 

Duties of In-State Attorneys 

In Colorado, consultation with an in-state attorney, or local counsel, is required. This is true of most states. It is the responsibility of the in-state attorney to advise the client of the attorney’s independent judgment if that is in conflict with the out-of-town attorney.  In addition, out-of-state attorneys are prohibited from soliciting for new business in-state. 


Check the relevant state Rule that governs the pro hac vice admission of out-of-state attorney to practice law in-state temporarily. Careful attention to detail is required to ensure compliance. 

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Because of the generality of the information on this site, it may not apply to a given place, time, or set of facts. It is not intended to be legal advice, and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations