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An active bar membership in the District costs $188 a year. Newbies or veterans whose memberships have lapsed for five years or more must take a five-hour, $190 course on professional conduct and court practices. And then there are the pro bono requirements. In sum, it’s a small price to pay for the ability to practice law here — unless you’re a judge who no longer practices at all, says Richard Welch, a lawyer at Mooney, Green, Baker & Saindon who is representing the Association of Administrative Law Judges in its lawsuit against the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. The association is hot over a rule, issued in March 2007, requiring administrative law judges to keep an active bar membership in at least one jurisdiction. “We are not saying that judges should not be required to be members of the bar,” Welch says. “What we’re saying is that they should not be required to be active members of the bar, and the reason for that is that judges are prohibited from practicing law.” The association filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in April. Last week Judge Rosemary Collyer denied in large part the government’s motion to dismiss and ordered the plaintiffs to file an amended complaint illustrating how the new rule burdens ALJs. Justice Department lawyers Christopher Hall and Justin Sandberg argued in a motion that the group lacked standing because it didn’t identify an individual who has fallen out of compliance with the rule. (The Justice Department declined to comment on the case.) But the association did identify such ALJs in affidavits. Welch says, “We view her order as telling us to include that info in the amended complaint.”
Joe Palazzolo can be contacted at [email protected].

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