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Arkansas Supreme Court Completely Overhauls Rule Governing Admission Pro Hac Vice

Admission “pro hac vice” refers to the ability of lawyers to participate in cases  in jurisdictions where they are not licensed. Pro hac vice is a valuable tool for lawyers and  is frequently used by lawyers national practices, including national and trial counsel in class action and multi-district litigation proceedings.

On October 20, 2016, the Arkansas Supreme Court issued a complete overhaul of its rule governing pro hac vice admission. These changes impact  lawyers seeking pro hac vice admission into Arkansas, and the local counsel they associate.

Pro hac vice admission in Arkansas is governed by Rule XIV of the Rules Governing Admission to the Arkansas Bar. Rule XIV currently imposes relatively unburdensome requirements for pro hac vice admission. The non-resident lawyer seeking admission must:

  • Reside in a state that affords comity to Arkansas lawyers; and,
  • Be in good standing in the state where they reside.

Non-resident lawyers may also be required to associate local Arkansas counsel. 

The new Rule XIV, which is effective January 1, 2017, signals increased oversight and scrutiny of both non-resident lawyers practicing in Arkansas and of the local counsel they associate. New requirements for pro hac vice admission include:

  • A $200 fee;
  • A motion complying with seven specific requirements; and,
  • A supporting affidavit of an Arkansas attorney that the non-resident will associate with recommending the non-resident attorney for pro hac vice admission.

Significantly, the new Rule expressly gives the trial court considering the pro hac vice motion the right to examine the non-resident attorney. The trial court may deny the motion if it determines the non-resident attorney is not reputable, will not observe the ethical standards required of Arkansas attorneys, has engaged in the unauthorized practice of law in Arkansas, or if it is determined that other good cause exists.

The new Rule also adds a bright-line restriction on admission pro hac vice: the trial court “shall deny” admission if, during the twelve months prior to the motion, the non-resident attorney has “participated, served as counsel, or entered an appearance pro hac vice” in three cases in Arkansas.

 The new Arkansas pro hac vice rule can be found here.

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