To The Editor:
The multijurisdictional practice issue may be one of the most important issues the Connecticut Bar Association has confronted over the past few years. I believe the MJP “odyssey” exemplifies all that is good about the CBA. The originally proposed American Bar Association MJP model rule was soundly defeated two years ago. The recently endorsed MJP proposal is not the ABA model.
As has been the case in other states, the Connecticut MJP rule was significantly revamped and now includes not only significant restrictions absent in the ABA model rule, but also includes accountability. The ABA model permitted any attorney who practiced in a particular field to practice temporarily in that field in Connecticut, as long as that lawyer’s home state granted reciprocity to Connecticut lawyers. The CBA-endorsed rule change would require the temporary work be substantially related to a matter for a client in a jurisdiction in which the attorney is licensed to practice.
Moreover, the CBA proposal includes a comprehensive definition of the practice of law. Most importantly, it also provides the requirement that the out-of-state attorney register with Statewide Grievance Committee. This registration should include the estimated time and general work being performed. It is only through this registration that we will be able to hold out-of-state attorneys and law firms accountable and guard against the rule’s abuse.
Through the patience, hard work and concerted efforts of many, spearheaded by the CBA Task Force on Multijurisdictional Practice, I believe Connecticut has got it right. Yes, this is “as good as it gets,” not because of compromise, but because the needs and concerns have been satisfactorily addressed and the issues resolved. I still vigorously oppose the ABA MJP model rule, but I strongly support the CBA proposal. As we say on the soccer field, “Well Done!”
James O. Gaston, Esq.
Editor’s note: Gaston is a member of the CBA’s House of Delegates.