Agency Practice Act

AuthorWilliam Funk - Jeffrey S. Lubbers
5 U.S.C. § 500 (2012), originally enacted November 8, 1965, by Pub. L.
No. 89 332, 79 Stat. 1281; incorporated into the U.S. Code by Pub. L. No.
9083, 81 Stat. 195 (September 11, 1967) (with minor stylistic changes);
amended by Pub.L. 106-113, Div. B, § 1000(a)(9) [Title IV, § 4732(b)(2)],
Nov. 29, 1999, 113 Stat. 1536, 1501A-583.
The Agency Practice Act provides that an attorney in good standing in
any state may represent persons before federal agencies. An agency may re-
quire an attorney to file a written declaration of current qualification and to
state that he is authorized to represent the particular person before the agency.
Similarly, a duly qualified certified public accountant may represent persons
before the Internal Revenue Service. The Act was intended to prohibit agency-
established admission requirements for licensed attorneys and special enroll-
ment requirements for CPAs. (Note: The Patent and Trademark Office is
exempted from the Act.1) The Act expressly neither grants nor denies other
persons the right to practice before an agency, nor does it authorize or limit
an agency’s right to discipline or disbar persons practicing before it.2
1See 37 C.F.R. Part 11 for the regulations of the Patent and Trademark
Office concerning recognition of individuals to practice in patent cases. The
PTO’s rules were extensively revised in 2004, see 69 Fed. Reg. 35,428 (June 24,
2004). Since then the PTO’s rules have been amended three times: 73 Fed. Reg.
47,689 (Aug. 14, 2008); 77 Fed. Reg. 45,251 (July 31, 2012); 78 Fed. Reg.
20,200 (Apr. 3, 2013).
2For discussion of admission and discipline of attorneys under the Agency
Practice Act, see Michael P. Cox, Regulation of Attorneys Practicing Before
Federal Agencies, Report to the Administrative Conference of the U.S., 1982
ACUS (Vol. II) 491, reprinted in 34 CASE W. R ES. L. REV. 173, 186–93 (1984).

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