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Saturday, May 18, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Pennsylvania Limits on Bar Admission Upheld

PHILADELPHIA (CN) - Pennsylvania's practice of admitting attorneys from only certain states, without taking its bar exam, is constitutional, a federal judge ruled.

Richard Rosario had filed suit over a "reciprocal" bar-admission rule that limits admission by motion in Pennsylvania to lawyers who practice in one of the 38 states that likewise admits Pennsylvania lawyers by motion.

Since Rosario took the bar exam in Maryland, which is not a reciprocal state, Pennsylvania rejected his application for admission without taking its bar.

Rosario brought the suit along with the National Association for the Advancement of Multijurisdictional Practice and New Jersey-based attorney Paul Riviere.

U.S. District Judge Gerald McHugh entered summary judgment Thursday against the three challengers of Rule 204.

Pennsylvania's interests in granting its lawyers access to other bars justifies for the rule and it does not violate the First of Fourteenth Amendments, the court found.

The rule also does not substantially impede interstate commerce, McHugh said, writing that "any impact it has on interstate commerce is merely incidental."

Though the American Bar Association has argued for ending reciprocity rule, McHugh said his "decision only examines the constitutionality of Rule 204, not the wisdom of the policy."

"Plaintiffs marshal substantial evidence that preventing experienced lawyers from gaining admission to additional state bars is an outdated policy that ignore the modern realities of legal practice and limits the choices of consumers of legal services," the decision states.

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