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SHAMSHOUM v. BOMBAY CAFE

April 14, 2003

DIANA SHAMSHOUM, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
THE BOMBAY CAFE, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Joel B. Rosen, United States Magistrate Judge

OPINION

I. INTRODUCTION

Presently before the court is the plaintiffs' motion to admit counsel pro hac vice pursuant to Local Civil Rule 101.1(c). After having considered the submissions of the parties, the plaintiffs' motion to admit counsel pro hac vice shall be granted.

II. BACKGROUND

On February 20, 2003, Jerald G. Abrams, Esquire, attorney for the plaintiffs, filed a motion to admit Lee Nuwesra, Esquire, as counsel for the plaintiffs in the instant matter. Mr. Abrams is an attorney associated with the law firm of Lee Nuwesra, LLC. (Affidavit of Jerald Abrams, ¶ 1). Mr. Abrams is a member of the New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania bars. (Id. at ¶ 2). Additionally, he is a member of the bar of this court, the United States District Courts for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York, the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. (Id.). Mr. Abrams's admission to each of those jurisdictions is in good standing. (Id.).

Mr. Nuwesra is the principal with the law firm of Lee Nuwesra, LLC. (Affidavit of Lee Nuwesra, ¶ 1). He is a member in good standing of the bar of the State of New York, the Court of Appeals for the Second and Third Circuits, and both the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York. (Id. at ¶ 3).

The defendants oppose the plaintiffs' motion and request that Mr. Abrams be disqualified from representing the plaintiffs in this case. (Defs.' Opp. Brief at 3). Based upon Allyn Z. Lite's annotations to New Jersey Local Civil Rule 101.1, (Lite, N.J. Federal Practice Rules, Comment 7 to L.Civ.R. 101.1 (Gann)), and New Jersey Court Rule 1:21-1(a), the defendants argue that Mr. Abrams is not in good standing with the State of New Jersey because he lacks a bona fide office in New Jersey. (Id. at 1-3). The defendants state that plaintiffs' counsel's "motion for admission pro hac vice is nothing more than an attempt to circumvent the bona fide office requirement of the New Jersey Court Rules." (Id. at 3). As the basis of their argument, the defendants cite in block quotation Lite's comment 7 to Local Civil Rule 101.1 and New Jersey Court Rule 1:21-1(a) without any further substantive argument. Moreover, the defendants' counsel threatens to report plaintiffs' counsel for the unauthorized practice of law in New Jersey.

In reply, the plaintiffs assert that "the bona fide office requirement is a non-issue in this or in any case brought in federal court." (Pls.' Reply Letter at 1). The plaintiffs rely on Abdallah v. Pileggi, 914 F. Supp. 1115 (D.N.J. 1996), and argue that the bona fide office requirement found in New Jersey Court Rule 1:21-1(a) is not imposed on a member of this federal court. The plaintiffs specifically address the following to the court, "[t]he United States District Court for the District of New Jersey may be geographically coterminous with the State of New Jersey, but an attorney engaged in practice before this Court does not practice `in the State'." (Pls.' Reply Letter at 2 (citing Abdallah, 914 F. Supp. at 1120)).

Plaintiffs' counsel acknowledges the ethical issue raised by the defendants and contends that he is in compliance with all ethical obligations. Counsel directs this court to Abdallah and the two New Jersey Rules of Professional Conduct addressed there. First, New Jersey RPC 1.2(e) states, "[w]hen a lawyer knows that a client expects assistance not permitted by the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law, the lawyer shall advise the client of the relevant limitations on the lawyer's conduct." N.J. RPC 1.2(e); Abdallah, 914 F. Supp. at 1119 n. 4 (citing N.J. RPC 1.2(e)). Second, under New Jersey RPC 1.7(b), "[a] lawyer shall not represent a client if the representation of that client may be materially limited . . . by the lawyer's own interests, unless . . . the client consents after a full disclosure." N.J. RPC 1.7(b); Abdallah, 914 F. Supp. at 1119 n. 4 (citing N.J. RPC 1.7(b)). Plaintiffs' counsel represents that he has complied with these rules as the plaintiffs were "fully aware" of Mr. Nuwesra's and Mr. Abrams's qualifications and limitations. (Pls.' Reply Letter at 2); See Matter of Roberts, 682 F.2d 105, 107 (3d Cir. 1982) (requiring that an attorney make full disclosure to his client of his limitation of practice).

Finally, plaintiffs' counsel contends that the defendants' reliance on the cases found in Lite's Comment 7 to Local Civil Rule 101.1 is misplaced "as those cases dealt with a State's right to discipline members of its bar." (Pls.' Reply Letter at 2).

III. DISCUSSION

In discussing the requirements for the admission of attorneys in federal court, the Local Civil Rules for the United States District Court, District of New Jersey provide that the bar of the New Jersey federal courts consists of attorneys admitted to practice in the New Jersey federal courts. L.Civ.R. 101.1(a) (Gann 2003). The Local Civil Rules further specify that any attorney licensed to practice by the Supreme Court of New Jersey may be admitted to the bar of the New Jersey federal courts. L.Civ.R. 101.1(b) (Gann 2003). Local Civil Rule 101.1(a) sets the parameters for the scope of admission:

The bar of this Court shall consist of those persons heretofore admitted to practice in this Court and those who may hereafter be admitted in accordance with these Rules.
L.Civ.R. 101.1(a). Local Civil Rule 101.1(b) establishes the requirements for the admission of a New Jersey attorney to the bar of the New Jersey federal courts:
Any attorney licensed to practice by the Supreme Court of New Jersey may be admitted as an attorney at law on the of a member of the bar of this Court, made in open court, and upon taking the prescribed oath and signing the roll. Any New Jersey attorney deemed ineligible to practice law by order of the New Jersey Supreme Court entered pursuant to New Jersey Court Rule 1:28-2(a) shall not be eligible to practice law in this Court during the period of such ineligibility. Any attorney licensed to practice by the Supreme Court of New Jersey who has resigned from the New Jersey bar shall be ...

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