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Can a non-Bar member remotely practice law from Florida?

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ComputerIs an out-of-state licensed lawyer and non-Bar member who moves to Florida engaged in the unlicensed practice of law when he works remotely for his out-of-state clients from his Florida home and his practice in another state does not represent any Florida residents or address Florida law?

The Bar’s Unlicensed Practice of Law Standing Committee has agreed to consider this issue after it received a request for a formal advisory opinion.

Meeting October 18 at the Bar’s Fall Meeting, the committee discussed a request from a New Jersey-licensed attorney who recently moved to Florida and would like to continue to work for his out-of-state clients. The committee will hold a public hearing on the request in February during the Bar’s Winter Meeting. Notice of the public hearing will be published in The Florida Bar News, on the Bar’s website, and in a newspaper of general circulation in the county in which the hearing will be held.

At issue, according to Bar Assistant UPL Director Jeff Picker, is what constitutes a regular presence in Florida for the practice of law under Rule 4-5.5 of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar.

Committee members noted with technology increasingly allowing for remote practice, the question is likely to keep recurring. Picker said the committee received two similar requests for formal advisory opinions over the last few years but chose not to hold public hearings or issue opinions in those requests.

After the public hearing in February, the committee will decide whether to issue a formal advisory opinion. If the committee approves an advisory opinion, it would be filed with the Florida Supreme Court for final action.

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