We frequently get requests for information from out-of-state attorneys asking about how to become admitted to practice in Nevada. Most of these inquiries are about appearing in a particular court case or other proceedings in Nevada. I want to address some of those commonly asked questions today.
Nevada is an anti-competitive state. To protect in-state attorneys, the legal system here does not have any reciprocity. Being admitted to practice in any of the other forty-nine states does not enable you to get reciprocity nor allow you to practice in Nevada without special permission.
The process for obtaining permission to practice as an out-of-state attorney is governed by Nevada Supreme Court Rule 42 (SCR 42). This rule dictates both when an application is necessary and the procedures for applying.
A lawyer who has been retained to represent a client in Nevada in any action or proceeding may apply.
SCR 42 applies to actions or proceedings pending before a court and before an administrative agency or governmental body. The rule also applies for attorneys participating in court-ordered arbitration, mediation, or alternative dispute resolution procedures.
However, if the parties have voluntarily agreed to arbitration, mediation, or alternative dispute resolution procedures, SCR 42 does not apply.
The first step in obtaining permission to appear or practice in Nevada is to file a Verified Application for Association with Nevada’s State Bar in Las Vegas. Nevada’s State Bar has a detailed form covering the entire procedure, required information, and associated fees required to file on their website.
One requirement of SCR 42 is that any out-of-state applicant must have a local Nevada lawyer who will commit to participate in the case actively. This sponsoring attorney must be an active member of the State Bar of Nevada. They must appear as attorney of record in the particular cause and consent to write to the association. The purpose of this local attorney is to ensure compliance with local rules of procedure and ethical rules.
Once the application, supporting documents, and consent from a Nevada counsel are submitted to the State Bar of Nevada, everything is normally reviewed within 7-10 days of receipt. The State Bar will investigate to make sure the applicant is in good standing and issue a State Bar Statement.
The local Nevada counsel who has agreed to sponsor and associate with the applicant can then file a motion with the judge or other tribunal requesting a Pro Hac Vice Admission.
There is a limit to the number of times you can request this special admission to practice in Nevada. The applicant has to list all prior applications within the past three years they, or any member of their firm, have submitted under Nevada SCR 42 (not including any Federal Court applications). An applicant can file five applications within three years, but applications beyond that must be accompanied by an affidavit showing special circumstances and a good cause. At some point, if you appear in so many cases in Nevada, you need to become licensed to practice in the state.
Recognizing that there are often many questions that come up in the application process, we would be glad to speak with you to discuss your situation’s specific circumstances. We provide some additional information for out-of-state lawyers about the local judiciary and how to practice in front of Nevada judges effectively.
We have prepared a special report that gives you an introduction to local judges in northern Nevada entitled A Visiting Attorney’s Introduction to Northern Nevada State Judges. This report introduces you to some of the personalities currently serving as judges in the area. It provides some dos and don’ts for practicing in front of them, what information the judge is looking for and what things will turn the judge off. The report also includes information on judicial surveys from the last few years and how the local lawyers view the judges regarding their effectiveness.