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NJ Solo Allowed to Proceed with Claim That NY Discriminates Against Out-of-State Lawyers

Posted Feb 11, 2010 9:34 AM CDT
By Molly McDonough

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A New Jersey-based solo practitioner may proceed with her claim that New York law discriminates against out-of-state lawyers because it requires practitioners to maintain an office in the state, a federal judge has ruled.

U.S. District Judge Lawrence Kahn of the Northern District of New York said Rutgers graduate Ekaterina Schoenefeld should be allowed to present arguments about whether New York's office rule violates her rights under the privileges and immunities clause in Article IV, §2, of the U.S. Constitution. Schoenefeld argues her rights are being violated because the state has no similar office-maintenance requirement on attorneys who are New York residents, the New York Law Journal reports.

Kahn held that while the U.S. Supreme Court gives states wide latitude to regulate the practice of law, that discretion isn't absolute.

"A nonresident attorney, who passes a state's bar exam and otherwise qualifies to practice law within that state, has an interest in practicing law that is protected by the privileges and immunities clause," Kahn concluded.

Schoenefeld, who has passed the bars of New Jersey, New York and California, told the court that she is turning down New York clients because of the law. Citing her complaint, the New York Law Journal noted that Schoenefeld wasn't aware of the office requirement until she attended a New York bar CLE.

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