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Bar News - July 18, 2008

Five Years, 500 Attorneys
Is Admission by Motion Changing NH Practice?

Since March 2003 when the revised Supreme Court Rule 42 allowing for reciprocal Bar membership went into effect, more than 500 attorneys have been admitted by motion to the NH Bar.

(These figures do not include the latest swearing-in of admittees through Rule 42, which took place on Tuesday, July 8, when 35 lawyers were admitted on motion. See page 10 for the list of those admittees.)

The chart appearing with this article indicates that after a ramp-up and initial bulge of applicants that peaked at 142 in 2004-5, a steady stream of about 100 attorneys per year are being admitted under three versions of the Rule. (There is a general reciprocity rule covering some 31 states and the District of Columbia, and specific provisions regarding reciprocal agreements with Maine and Vermont.)

The demographics show that, by place of residence, the most popular states of origin for attorneys admitted on motion have been:

Massachusetts – 281
New Hampshire – 128
Maine – 37
Vermont – 23
New York – 9
Rhode Island – 7

A smattering of other states are represented, 20 in total, including Connecticut (3), New Jersey (2), Virginia (2), and states as distant as Texas and Washington state.

In essence, Rule 42 states that "lawyers admitted to the bar in another state or the District of Columbia may be eligible to apply for admission to the New Hampshire bar without examination" as long as certain requirements are met. The attorney must be admitted to practice in a state that would offer reciprocal admission privileges to attorneys licensed in NH. Furthermore, the applicant must:

· Have been admitted by bar examination in another state or the District of Columbia and passed the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination;

· Have graduated from an ABA-accredited law school, with the exception of Vermont, which allows individuals to read for the law;

· Be in good standing in all jurisdictions where admitted, and not be subject to discipline or facing pending discipline in any state;

· Meet the character and fitness standards of NH.

One of the chief proponents of Rule 42’s enactment, NH Supreme Court Associate Justice Linda S. Dalianis, who had served on a group that had considered but abandoned the idea of creating a northern New England regional admission process, said it was a recognition of the reality of multi-jurisdictional practice. She said New Hampshire’s adoption of reciprocity would open doors for NH attorneys to be admitted to practice elsewhere. There were a few voices of protest from attorneys who said making admission to NH practice too easy would, in the words of one Morning Mail writer, alter its "small-town feel."

Even before the admission by motion rule was enacted, the multi-state nature of law practice was impacting NH. At that time there were already more than 900 members of the NH Bar that had an office address outside of NH. Today, that number exceeds 1,300. (A number of those admitted by motion, following their swearing-in, opt for inactive status.)

It may seem a long time ago – but it was only 23 years ago that the US Supreme Court invalidated a NH Supreme Court rule requiring residency in NH to practice law here.

How much of a difference has admission on motion made to the practice of law? We’d like your opinion. A few days after this issue is mailed, Bar members with e-mail addresses will be receiving one of two surveys – Bar members admitted by exam will receive one survey, and those admitted on motion will receive a version posing different questions. We will share the results of this informal, emphatically unscientific survey with readers later this fall. If you want to weigh in now, don’t wait, we’d welcome your comments. Send them to


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