2 N.J.L. 324
March 1, 1993
133 N.J.L.J. 652
March 1, 1993
Out-of-State Attorneys Practicing
Immigration Law in New Jersey
The Committee on the Unauthorized Practice of Law has received
inquiries from two out-of-state attorneys who have asked whether
they may establish offices in this State for the purpose of
representing clients in immigration matters. It is the Committee's
opinion that although such attorneys may represent clients before
the Immigration and Naturalization Service in New Jersey, they may
not open or otherwise establish offices in this State for that
8 U.S.C.A. § 1362 provides that "[I]n any exclusion or deportation proceedings before a special inquiry officer and in any appeal proceedings before the Attorney General from any such exclusion or deportation proceedings, the person concerned shall have the privilege of being represented (at no expense to the Government) by such counsel authorized to practice in such proceedings, as he shall choose."
Furthermore, with the Immigration and Naturalization Service, as with other federal agencies, it is the practice to permit lay persons to appear before the agency as long as the person has been accredited by the Board of Immigration Appeals or the office of the Chief Immigration Judge. 8 C.F.R. § 292.1 provides several exemptions for non-lawyer representation, and the means by which to become an accredited representative.
However, the fact that an out-of-state attorney may be authorized to practice before the Immigration and Naturalization Service does not automatically confer upon him or her the right to maintain an office in this State for that purpose. As this Committee previously held in U.P.L. Opinion 7, 94 N.J.L.J. 1077 (1971):
"A person not a member of the New Jersey Bar, who is admitted to practice before a federal agency, may have an office in this State to perform those functions which are reasonably within the scope of practice authorized to any non-lawyer by any valid federal statute or valid federal administrative regulation. To this extent New Jersey's substantial interest in regulating the practice of law within its borders must yield under the federal supremacy clause, but not beyond. Sperry v. Florida Bar, 373 U.P.S. 379 (1963); Auerbacher v. Wood, 139 N.J. Eq. 599, 604 (Ch.Div. 1947), aff'd 142 N.J. Eq. 484 (E & A 1948). However, such person does not have any sweeping license or general right to practice law in his or her particular field, without becoming a member of the New Jersey Bar. Sperry v. Florida Bar, supra, 373 U.S. at 402.
It is the opinion of the Committee on the Unauthorized Practice of Law that an attorney who is not licensed to practice law in the State of New Jersey cannot come into this State to open an office even if said attorney advertises "practice to be limited to Immigration law." Likewise, the attorney cannot advertise in the Yellow Pages or news media, even if the advertisements clearly state "Practice limited to Immigration Law," because such advertisements will surely attract clients seeking legal representation in other areas of the law.
This does not mean that out-of-state attorneys who have clients residing in New Jersey may not represent their clients before the Immigration and Naturalization Service in New Jersey. In such cases, if the client sought out the attorney in the attorney's licensing state, or if the attorney is of counsel in a New Jersey firm, there is no regulation prohibiting such attorney from appearing before the I.N.S. in this State. It is well established that an attorney licensed to practice in any one state can appear before the I.N.S. in any other state. However, such attorney may not establish an office, or otherwise advertise his or her presence in this State.