Foreign Attorney — Practice in Virginia Before Federal Administrative Agencies.


You indicate that you are a member in good standing of both the Maryland and the District of Columbia Bars, and are currently preparing to submit an application to practice law in Virginia without examination pursuant to Rule 1A:1 of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia. You are concerned about the extent to which you may be permitted to function within the State during the pendency of your application.

For approximately the last 12 years you have been employed as an attorney for a Federal financial institution regulatory agency. During your tenure at the agency, you have established yourself as somewhat of an authority in your areas of expertise. You have the opportunity to join with a member of the Virginia bar who is also recognized as an authority in this area of law and would like to locate and work with him in his Virginia office. Your clients will encompass, primarily, federally-chartered financial institutions (some located in Virginia and others throughout the United States), as well as national broker/dealers and mutual funds. Your work will concentrate in providing legal opinions on Federal law implemented by a Federal agency and in representing clients before the agency. Until such time as you are duly licensed to practice in Virginia, you will neither represent nor provide advice to natural person residents of Virginia or any businesses chartered under Virginia law. Any work involving State law or representation before any tribunal in the State will be handled by the Virginia attorney with whom you will be associated.

The committee is in agreement that Part 6, Section I, Rule 9 of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia is apposite to your situation. This Rule recognizes that within the scope of an administrative agency practice an attorney “may give advice to others informing them of their rights and obligations as to matters pending before, to be presented to or otherwise within the jurisdiction of such agency [and] prepare applications, exhibits and other documents as required by such agency in the submission of matters to it and in the performance of its regulatory functions ... .???UPC 9-3 (emphasis added.) Further, UPC 9-6 provides:

A person who is authorized to practice before an administrative agency and who is duly licensed or authorized to practice law in another state presumably has met certain minimal educational requirements and is subject to discipline for violations of a code of professional responsibility similar to that governing the conduct of lawyers licensed to practice in Virginia. As such, a person licensed or authorized to practice law in another sate is entitled to a greater degree of latitude in the resolution of issues involving whether his activity is within the scope of practice authorized by such agency and whether any legal instruments prepared by him are properly incident thereto.

Thus the committee is of the opinion that the activities you described are permissible under the Rule.

Committee Opinion
June 2, 1988
Updated: Aug 28, 2006