the ethics of federal law practice


Procopio / XIRA Webinar

DEC 16, 2020 – 1:00pm – 2:00pm

The Ethics of Federal Law Practice, Remote Lawyering, and a Technology-Driven Vision of the Future of Law

The Ethics of Federal Law Practice, Remote Lawyering, and a Technology-Driven Vision of the Future of Law.........and a new ABA opinion on "Lawyers Working Remotely"

Recently, XIRA participated in a webinar examining the ethical issues involved in the interstate practice of federal law in our new era of remote lawyering. The webinar was hosted by ethics specialist Carole Buckner of Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves and Savitch. Also participating were bankruptcy lawyer Chris Celentino of Dinsmore, intellectual property lawyer David Djavaherian of Pactech Law, and Reza Ghaffari, CEO of XIRA. The webinar can be viewed at this link. One hour of self-study ethics credit is available for those who watch. An outline of the webinar with legal research on this subject is linked here


The webinar examined the issue of whether a lawyer practicing in areas of law that are federal in nature may provide legal services across state lines, such as meeting with or representing a potential client who is in a state other than the one where the lawyer is licensed. The answer is yes, although there are a number of caveats. The type of federal practice plays a role. Different types of courts have different requirements, with administrative courts being generally more lax about out-of-state lawyer admission. 


XIRA’s system allows lawyers who practice in bankruptcy, immigration, intellectual property and Federal tax to show up on searches nationwide. (Other areas of federal law will be added later). Importantly, the client has to ask first to include lawyers who are out of state in the search results, otherwise only in-state lawyers will show up. Nationwide visibility is good for federal practitioners and good for clients as well. Federal law does not change from state to state, and XIRA’s system broadens the reach of these lawyers and expands the choices available to consumers, while ensuring that consumers are aware that a lawyer is not from their state. 


We highly recommend this webinar to those who practice in a federal area of law, and want to ensure they follow all the ethical requirements when providing legal help across state lines. 


On the same day that the webinar was held, the ABA issued an opinion on lawyers working remotely. The Opinion recognizes the realities that have faced many lawyers during the pandemic, and provides that lawyers licensed in one state can practice law from another state so long as they follow certain requirements. It does not specifically address interstate federal practice of law, but is applicable to any lawyer who practices law while physically outside of the state in which they are licensed.  


The requirements that must be met include: The lawyer must not establish an office or advertise their services in the other state, and may not violate any state laws on unauthorized practice of law. Lawyers may not include the out of state address on their website, business cards or advertising. Most states follow the ABA model rules, but lawyers planning to set up a vacation home or who are working from one state while licensed in another, as many who live near state borders do, would be well-advised to double check the laws of the state they are working from to determine if there are any other restrictions. 


XIRA lawyers are ahead of the game. The beauty of XIRA is that no physical address is required at all. If the lawyer has an office in state, they can include it in their profile, but it is not required. They can practice law and meet with clients, even obtain new ones, from anywhere, at home, on vacation, or while away on business, and their physical location is immaterial (and need not even be known, unless the lawyer chooses to disclose it). They will not run afoul of the ABA limits on remote lawyering by use of XIRA’s services, but they need to keep in mind the restrictions set out in the opinion.