Constitutional Law

Federal Judge Sides with NJ Solo, Strikes NY Law Requiring In-State Office for Out-of-State Lawyers

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A federal judge in Albany has agreed with a New Jersey solo practitioner that a New York law is unconstitutional. It requires out-of-state attorneys licensed to practice in New York to maintain an in-state office if they want to represent clients there.

The state argued that the New York office requirement made sense based on concerns that lawyers be available both to their clients and for any required service of process. But U.S. District Judge Lawrence Kahn said there were less restrictive ways to further those interests, the New York Law Journal reports in an article published by New York Lawyer (req. req.).

Granting summary judgment for the plaintiff solo, Kahn found that the Judiciary Law §470 violates the privileges and immunities clause of the federal constitution. New York lawyers who live in the state are not required to maintain offices there in order to practice, putting out-of-state lawyers at a considerable competitive disadvantage, he explained.

The plaintiff in the case, Ekaterina Schoenefeld, is admitted in New Jersey, New York and California and resides and has a law office in Princeton, N.J., which is about an hour’s commute from New York City.

The My Shingle blog provides a link to a copy of the opinion (PDF), with key portions highlighted in yellow.

Earlier coverage: “NJ Solo Allowed to Proceed with Claim That NY Discriminates Against Out-of-State Lawyers”

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