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WASHINGTON � A group of foreign lawyers have lost their bid for U.S. Supreme Court review of their challenge to a Louisiana bar rule that keeps them from practicing their profession in that state. The justices, without comment, on June 25 denied petitions for certiorari in Wallace v. Calogero, No. 05-1645, and Leclerc v. Webb, No. 06-11. The two cases were brought by two United Kingdom, one Canadian and three French lawyers who are legally in this country on visas lasting six to 10 years or longer. They have been working as legal assistants in death penalty and other types of cases. One of the petitioners, Emily Maw, is a 2003 graduate of Tulane University Law School and director of Innocence Project New Orleans. She practices law in neighboring Mississippi, but functions as a paralegal in Louisiana. Maw, who passed the Louisiana bar exam, was denied admission to the bar, along with her fellow petitioners, because of Louisiana Bar Rule 3(B). That rule says that every applicant for admission to the bar must be a “citizen of the United States or a resident alien thereof.” In 2002, the Louisiana Supreme Court reversed its decades-old interpretation of the rule and said that “resident alien” refers only to aliens entitled to permanent residence in the United States. In the high court, the petitioners argued that the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was wrong to reject their equal protection challenge. They also argued that federal immigration law makes clear that an H-1B visa holder is admitted to the United States for the purpose of engaging in a “specialty occupation,” and pre-empts state licensing regimes that bar those visa holders from obtaining a state license. But the state countered that its rule was rationally related to its duty to monitor attorneys and take action against them when necessary. The high court subsequently sought the views of the solicitor general of the United States who, in turn, urged denial of the petitions. Solicitor General Paul Clement argued that states are largely free to determine standards for obtaining licenses. He also said that nonimmigrant aliens do not have the same claim to equal treatment as resident aliens because they are here temporarily, are subject to restrictions and don’t have the same ties to this country as resident aliens. May not be over It may not be the end of the road for these lawyers, said Louis R. Koerner Jr. of the Koerner Law Firm in Houma, La., who represented the Leclerc petitioners in the lower courts. “There were a substantial number of legal issues that were not timely presented to the district court that could be presented in another suit,” he said. “We alleged, but did not get discovery, which can be obtained by Sunshine Act requests, that no other state has these policies and that there has never been a publicized problem with foreign lawyers who were admitted from 1974 to 2002.”

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