Pro Hac Vice

August 12, 2023

Generally, one can only be legally represented by a lawyer within their own state, and that lawyer must be permitted to practice law in that state. Sometimes one wants to get something done (ordered) by a court in a different state. Some examples are for real estate purchases and sales, and in judgment recovery.

One way to get legal representation in another state is to hire a lawyer in that state. The other way to be represented in another state is to have your current attorney (or yourself if you are the attorney) petition the court in the other state for Pro Hac Vise permission; to represent you for your case, in their court. This article is my opinion, and not legal advice. I am a judgment broker, and am not a lawyer. If you ever need any legal advice or a strategy to use, please contact a lawyer.

Pro Hac Vice means “for this one case”. It means getting permission from the new court for your current lawyer to co-represent you in their court. This always involves a second local attorney (at extra cost) to co-represent you (for that one case number) in cooperation with your current “foreign” (far away from the court) attorney.

An example of a Pro Hac Vice situation is when a lawyer is representing someone on a Federal judgment won a judgment in California, and there is a need to register and enforce that judgment in Florida where their judgment debtor absconded to. The lawyer is admitted to the California Bar, however not the Florida Bar. If one was representing themselves on a judgment they own, they could do this (if they know how), and move a Federal or most any other judgment, to another state and enforce it, because they are representing themselves. An attorney representing someone else, must work with a local Florida lawyer and get Pro Hac Vice access to co-represent their client in Florida.

Why spend for two lawyers? The reason to have your current lawyer stay involved in a court action in another state, is that your current lawyer might have extensive knowledge of your case. It would probably take too long, and cost too much to have a new lawyer in another state get fully up to speed on your case. In such a situation, it can be cost effective to have your attorney work with a local attorney. Your current lawyer may not even have to travel. They can coordinate their Pro Hac Vice access to the court with the local attorney.

Your current attorney must be licensed in at least one state, and they in cooperation with a local lawyer, and must petition the court for Pro Hac Vice access to co-represent you in a particular matter. Sometimes a court will need a statement from a local Bar Association saying your lawyer is in good standing. The local court will also require a fee, often about $500 per Pro Hac Vice case. The court has the discretion to (rarely) deny, grant, or grant with restrictions, their order to permit your current lawyer Pro Hac Vice representation, along with a local lawyer.

When your current lawyer has Pro Hac Vice access and a local lawyer is retained in the new state, how involved should that local attorney be in your case? That is something to discuss with your current lawyer. Generally, it is best to have the local lawyer do all the mechanical and procedural work, and have your local attorney help the remote lawyer with the strategy and pleadings. When you or your current attorney select an attorney to co-represent you on a Pro Hac Vice basis, select one that is very near the court where the debtor is, and familiar with the task at hand.

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