Focus on Ethics & Civility, 0222 UTBJ, Vol. 35, No. 1. 48

Authorby LaShel Shaw and Keith A. Call, J.
PositionVol. 35 1 Pg. 48

Focus on Ethics & Civility

No. Vol. 35 No. 1 Pg. 48

Utah Bar Journal

February, 2022

January, 2021

by LaShel Shaw and Keith A. Call, J.

Living in Utah, Working for Out-of-State Clients

I once saw a bumper sticker on a car with a Montana license plate that said, “Montana is full. I hear South Dakota is really nice, though.” That made me laugh out loud and echoed much of how we feel about Utah. However, every indication is that Utah will continue to grow. Some small percentage of Utah’s population growth is likely coming from out-of-state lawyers moving to Utah. With the COVID-19 crisis, many professionals are rethinking the advantages of crowded cities. The allure of cities can’t be denied, with their restaurants, culture, variety of experiences, and proximity to major airports. But population centers are a tough gig in the coronavirus age: social distancing is an inherent challenge, and the increasing viability of remote work allows professionals to smoothly transition to suburbs, small towns, and rural locations.

Lisa Pansini, Attorneys Moving Away from Big Cities During COVID, ROCKET MATTER’S LEGAL PRODUCTIVITY (Aug. 5. 2020),

With a relatively low population, lots of open space, and easy-to-access recreational opportunities, Utah has a lot to offer to the urban refugee lawyer. In this article, we explore the Utah ethical rules applicable to lawyers living in Utah who do not have a Utah bar license.

Rule 5.5

The unauthorized practice of law in Utah is governed by Utah Rule of Professional Conduct 5.5. Under the Utah rule (which is slightly different than the ABA Model Rule), “[a] lawyer who is not admitted to practice in this jurisdiction shall not … establish an office or other systematic and continuous presence in this jurisdiction for the practice of law” or “hold out to the public or otherwise represent that the lawyer is admitted to practice law in this jurisdiction.” Utah R. Pro. Conduct 5.5(b). Some limited exceptions are enumerated for licensed attorneys in good standing in other U.S. jurisdictions to practice law in Utah on a limited temporary basis. Id. 5.5(c).

Applicable Ethics Opinions

In 2019, prior to the pandemic, the Utah State Bar Ethics Advisory Opinion Committee considered whether Rule 5.5(b) would be violated if “an individual licensed as an active attorney in another state and in good standing in...

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