Future Law

IL Opens Legal Profession to Out-of-State Attorneys

illinois legal professionOn the heels of New York’s recent announcement expanding in-house eligibility, Illinois has now made it easier for out-of-state and foreign attorneys to join the legal profession in Illinois.

Last week, the Illinois Supreme Court amended its Supreme Court Rules to keep pace with the advancements in technology now influencing how lawyers practice across the globe.

With positive feedback after a public hearing in July discussing the matter, the Court amended Rules 705 and 716.

The amended Rule 705 shortens the length of time lawyers must be licensed in the United States before they can seek admission to the Illinois bar on motion.

The amended Rule 716 adds foreign lawyers to the list of persons eligible to receive a limited license to practice law in Illinois when he/she is employed in the state as house counsel. The lawyer can attain this privilege if…

  • he/she meets all of Illinois’ character and fitness requirements;
  • he/she is in good disciplinary standing within the court he/she is admitted to;
  • he/she has been licensed to practice law for less than 15 years and has passed the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam in Illinois or in any jurisdiction in which it was administered, or, in the case of a lawyer who has been admitted to practice only in a foreign jurisdiction, has completed a course on ethics for foreign lawyers approved by Illinois; and
  • he/she has paid the fee for licensed admission of house counsel and met all of the application requirements

These amendments simplify the admissions process for attorneys in foreign jurisdictions, and ensure that these lawyers are qualified and familiar with Illinois’ ethics rules, an issue of vital important to the Supreme Court. Says Chief Justice Rita Garman:

These rule amendments recognize how changes in legal practice have brought lawyers from other jurisdictions to Illinois to provide needed legal services as well as the Court’s commitment to ensuring that lawyers who practice in Illinois meet the highest of professional and ethical standards.

The amended rules go into effect on January 1, 2016.

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