Special Committee Multijurisdictional Practice

Special Committee on Multijurisdictional Practice Introduction and History

On November 9, 2004, the Board of Governors approved the Final Report and Recommendations of the District of Columbia Bar Special Committee on Multijurisdictional Practice (MJP Committee). The MJP Committee’s report included nine recommendations. Recommendations one through three dealt with extending disciplinary authority to non-member attorneys who engage in multijurisdictional practice of law in the District. (The disciplinary system currently has jurisdiction only over members of the D.C. Bar.) The fourth recommendation proposed that a study of the potential operational and fiscal consequences to the disciplinary system and certain regulatory programs of extending disciplinary authority to non-D.C. Bar members be undertaken by the Bar’s Disciplinary System Study Committee (DSS Committee) or another committee of the Bar. (The DSS Committee, appointed in September 2003, was then engaged in studying whether to recommend changes to certain aspects of the D.C. disciplinary system governed by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals Rule XI of the Rules Governing the Bar.) The Board also decided that it would not act on the three recommendations about the extension of disciplinary authority to non-members until the DSS Committee had completed its consideration of the operational and fiscal consequences of such an extension of disciplinary jurisdiction.

Recommendations five through nine of the MJP Committee report proposed modifications to D.C. Court of Appeals Rule 49, governing the Unauthorized Practice of Law. The recommendations would add a limited exception for practice related to alternative dispute resolution proceedings and other modifications that would clarify or strengthen existing provisions of the rule.

Shortly after the Board approved the report, then-Bar president John C. Keeney, Jr., with the concurrence of the Board, decided not to transmit the report until after the DSS Committee had had an opportunity to study the consequences of extending disciplinary authority to non-D.C. Bar members engaged in multidisciplinary practice in the District. The DSS Committee’s review of Rule XI -- that Committee’s primary focus -- turned out to be more complicated and time-consuming than had been anticipated, however, and the DSS Committee subsequently declined to study the issue on which the MJP Committee had sought guidance. [1]

The Board of Governors believes that it would be premature to consider a proposal to expand disciplinary jurisdiction while the Bar’s disciplinary system recommendations are pending before the Court of Appeals and before any changes have been implemented. The Board anticipates that, following the Court’s approval of any changes to the disciplinary system, the Bar will appoint an implementation committee to monitor the effects of those changes. The Board believes that that committee, or another committee designated by the Bar, should assess the consequences of extending disciplinary jurisdiction to non-members of the D.C. Bar in light of any changes in the disciplinary system approved by the Court.

In the meantime, the Board submits the other recommendations of the MJP Committee to the Court of Appeals for its approval.

  1. In the fall 0f 2006, the DSS Committee completed an extraordinary three-year effort and submitted its report to the Board of Governors. On October 10, 2006, the Board approved the Committee's report and recommendations and forwarded the report to the D.C. Court of Appeals for consideration.