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As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many attorneys have been working remotely since March 2020, practicing virtually in jurisdictions where the lawyer is licensed, even if they’re physically located elsewhere. In response to this “new normal”, the American Bar Association (ABA) issued Opinion 495 on December 16, 2020, addressing remote work and the unauthorized practice of law (UPL) 

Formal Opinion 495 provides guidance when a lawyer may practice the law for which they are licensed while physically in a different jurisdiction. Specifically, a lawyer physically present in a jurisdiction in which they are not licensed to practice — and the local jurisdiction has not determined such practice is unauthorized – may practice if they meet the following guidelines:

  • Does not establish an office or other systematic presence in that local jurisdiction.
  • Does not “hold out” a presence or availability to perform legal services in that local jurisdiction.
  • Does not actually provide legal services for matters in that local jurisdiction, unless otherwise authorized.

The opinion notes that providing local contact information on websites, letterhead, business cards or advertising are examples of communications that would improperly suggest a local office or local presence.

To download a copy of Formal Opinion 495, please click here or visit AmericanBar.org.