Original post: 12/6/20
The ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility announced today a new formal ethics opinion on issues related to practicing law "remotely," by which they mean practicing law in a jurisdiction while being located in a different jurisdiction in which the lawyer is not admitted. You can read the opinion here.
Here is the summary:
"Lawyers may remotely practice the law of the jurisdictions in which they are licensed while physically present in a jurisdiction in which they are not admitted if the local jurisdiction has not determined that the conduct is the unlicensed or unauthorized practice of law and if they do not hold themselves out as being licensed to practice in the local jurisdiction, do not advertise or otherwise hold out as having an office in the local jurisdiction, and do not provide or offer to provide legal services in the local jurisdiction. This practice may include the law of their licensing jurisdiction or other law as permitted by ABA Model Rule 5.5(c) or (d), including, for instance, temporary practice involving other states’ or federal laws. Having local contact information on websites, letterhead, business cards, advertising, or the like would improperly establish a local office or local presence under the ABA Model Rules."
(12/17/20): Given that the ABA's opinion only interprets the Model Rule, as opposed to the law of any one jurisdiction, it is important to consider how the rules of each jurisdiction have been interpreted so far and how the opinion might influence future cases. Here is a comment on how the opinion might apply to cases in California. Ethical Grounds has a short comment on the opinion here concluding that the opinion "makes sense" and "reflects common sense."
(1/16/21): Law 360 has analysis of the opinion in an article called ABA Approves Remote Practice, But Questions Remain.