In New Reality: Temps Must Join DC Bar ($), the Legal Times (June 27, 2005) reports District of Columbia bar regulators ruled that contract lawyers must be admitted to the DC bar to avoid the unauthorized practice of law. This may have implications for offshoring, specifically hiring lawyers in India. 

Some article highlights: Hundreds to thousands of lawyers work as contract lawyers at any given moment. One firm set up a separate office recently with 400 (four hundred) temp lawyers for an antitrust 2nd request review. Deploying scores of temp lawyers is fairly common. “The opinion makes clear that placement agencies, lawyers, and law firms could be forced by the court to stop using non-D.C.-licensed attorneys or face fines.” Interestingly, the article reports that this ruling may not apply to Howrey, which houses its contract lawyers in Northern Virginia.

The DC authorities may create unintended consequences in their zeal to protect, umm, just a second, er, what is it that they are protecting given that the bulk of contract lawyers work under the close supervision of DC-licensed lawyers. OK, forget about the artificial barrier to entry issue. If Maryland and Virginia rules allow temps, firms can easily move work to one of these jurisdictions. And once firms think about moving the work 10+ miles away, perhaps they will also consider crossing an ocean and hiring lawyers in India for this instead.