November 3, 2011
Out-of-state lawyers sue the California Supreme Court for admission to the California Bar without taking the Bar Exam
The National Association for the Advancement of Multijurisdiction Practice (NAAMJP) is a group of lawyers licensed to practice in other states who wish to practice law in California without passing the difficult California Bar Exam. As discussed in this article, the NAAMJP recently has sued the Supreme Court and its individual justices in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, NAAMJP v. California Supreme Court, Case No. 11-5046. The lawsuit seeks to invalidate California’s sister state bar admission rules and the Bar Exam for experienced attorneys on federal constitutional grounds, including the Privileges and Immunities Clause, the Commerce Clause, denial of due process, and violation of 42 U.S.C. section 1983. The action also seeks full licensing privileges for registered in-house counsel and legal services attorneys.
The Court and its justices have been named as defendants because the Court has inherent authority, under its judicial power, to regulate the practice of law in California. (See Cal. Const., art. VI, § 1.) As such, it is responsible for regulating the State Bar, including the attorney admission process. (Obrien v. Jones (2000) 23 Cal.4th 40, 48 [recognizing the Court’s inherent “powers to regulate and control the attorney admission and disciplinary system”]; see also Bus. & Prof. Code, § 6087.) Regardless, the justices are likely to be less than pleased that they have been named individually in the lawsuit.
We doubt the plaintiffs’ cause is helped by the fact that some of them have admittedly failed the California Bar Exam on more than one occasion. Counsel for the plaintiffs is Benjamin Dai, who is admitted to practice in California.