Tennessee Supreme Court Adopts Multijurisdictional Practice Rules

The Supreme Court of Tennessee adopted, with minor changes, ABA Model Rules 5.5 and 8.5, which govern the multijurisdictional practice of law (MJP) and facilitate the cross-border practices of lawyers admitted in one US jurisdiction, but not in the state that’s adopting this practice authorization. The court order dated October 23rd, 2009 is effective January 1, 2010. This makes Tennessee the 43rd state to adopt MJP rules. ACC has been a pioneer in promoting the adoption of such rules because such necessary reforms recognize the realities of modern legal practice and afford both clients the increased service (at a lower cost) and corporate lawyers hoping to serve them in their multi-jurisdictional business environment the protections from claims of unauthorized practice that they deserve as highly qualified and trusted professionals.

ABA Model Rule 5.5(d) as adopted allows a lawyer admitted in one (or more) US jurisdictions, and not disbarred or suspended from practice in any jurisdiction, to “provide legal services” to the lawyer’s employers as in-house counsel operating on a permanent basis in the state; the provisions of 5.5(c) allow lawyers from all practice environments, including both inside and outside counsel, to make temporary incursions into the adopting state to engage in client business (taking a deposition, participating in a negotiation, meeting with teams, etc.), where previously such incursions may have been viewed as unauthorized practice. Tennessee’s rules go into effect January 1, 2010.

In addition, the court adopted a corporate counsel registration rule, an amnesty provision for those lawyers who comply within a reasonable period after adoption, and a “Katrina Rule” accommodating pro bono work in response to major disasters. For more specifics see the order below:

Supreme Court of Tennessee Order Adopting MJP Rules, 10/23/09