Lawyers Fight Reciprocity Rule in Arizona

     PHOENIX (CN) – Lawyers have taken aim in Federal Court at the “tit-for-tat retaliation admission paradigm” that makes it difficult for them to practice law in Arizona.



     The National Association for the Advancement of Multijurisdiction Practice and two lawyers admitted outside of Arizona claim that the Arizona Supreme Court unconstitutionally requires “that experienced attorneys should have to take and pass another state’s bar exam.”
     The association is an advocacy group that seeks to improve the “legal profession by petitioning for admission on motion in those minority of jurisdictions that have not yet adopted the [American Bar Association’s] recommendations for reciprocity.”
     Allison Girvin, a lawyer who worked in California from 2005 to February 2012 before moving to Arizona, says she “has been denied the privilege of admission on motion, based solely on her residence and bar admission in California, a non-reciprocity state.”
     Girvin has been forced to take work as a legal assistant while she prepares to take Arizona’s bar exam, the lawsuit claims.
     Mark Anderson, who practiced law in Montana for 15 years, says Arizona also will not let him practice without taking the state bar exam, “despite his impeccable track record and extensive legal experience.”
     “The Arizona Supreme Court’s disparate licensing protocol severely handicaps experienced attorneys as the purpose of a bar exam is to measure a minimum level of competence in order to protect the public,” the lawsuit states. “An experienced attorney has already proven his or her competence, and that he or she is not a threat to the public by their prior licensing and track record. In other words, requiring experienced attorneys to re-invent the wheel in order to get an Arizona law license rejects the best evidence of competence, and instead it relies on a testing protocol that is known to lack content validity, criterion or predictive validity.”
     Though Arizona is one of nine states to have adopted the Uniform Bar Examination, which was created “to facilitate lawyer mobility across jurisdictional lines,” the state predicates admission to its bar on state reciprocity, according to the complaint.
     “Arizona provides full admission to favored states,” the group claims. “The tit-for-tat criterion for disfavored state status has nothing to do with empirical evidence linked to competence. It is a standard that is based merely on state relations that has nothing to do with protecting the public and everything to do with retaliation under color of state law and providing local lawyer monopoly protection.”
     Experienced lawyers “are particularly injured by Arizona’s disparate treatment and preference for youth because it is well known by testing experts, and the learned members of the UBE that pen and paper bar exams are superficial and lack content validity,” according to the complaint.
     In addition to various points of law, the 39-page complaint makes sweeping references to certain principles of physics, the Golden Rule and Apple’s mission statement.
     “Many people oppose change because of a deep-seated emotional need for control over events in their lives, i.e. a fear of the unknown,” according to the complaint. “Adopting admission on motion for all attorneys, however, will not diminish the state’s control over its admission process because the attorney will still have to file an application for moral character clearance before obtaining bar admission.”
     The complaint names as defendants: the Arizona Supreme Court, Hon. Chief Justice Rebecca White Berch, Hon. Vice Chief Justice W. Scott Bales, Hon. John Pelander and Hon. Robert M. Brutinel.
     As for relief, the group wants a finding that the reciprocity law, Arizona Supreme Court Rule 34(f), is unconstitutional. The individual lawyers also demand admission to the state bar.
     They are represented by Grant Savoy of Solouki, Krol & Savoy in Los Angeles.

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