Pro Hac Vice Admission Of Out Of State Counsel By A Hawaii Attorney

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Sometimes, a client who is involved in a Hawaii State court case would like his or her own mainland lawyer to be involved in the Hawaii case.  In such matters, with the permission of the Court, the mainland attorney can temporarily be admitted to practice in the state of Hawaii specifically to assist in the litigation of that particular case.  In this case, the attorney is referred to as being admitted pro hac vice.  The Hawaii Rules of the Supreme Court govern pro hac vice admission as follows:

1.9. Pro hac vice appearance of counsel.

Any attorney actively licensed to practice law by the highest court of a state or territory of the United States or the District of Columbia who is not a resident of Hawai‘i may be permitted to associate himself or herself with a member or members of the Hawai‘i bar (local counsel) in the presentation of a specific case at the discretion of the presiding judge or judges. The petition or motion for pro hac vice appearance and any subsequent documents submitted on behalf of a party must be filed by local counsel.

An attorney allowed to appear pro hac vice shall, for each year the order is effective, pay to the Hawai‘i State Bar an annual Disciplinary Board fee authorized by the supreme court, provided that if the attorney is allowed to appear in more than one case, only one fee shall be paid. The Hawai‘i State Bar may assess a reasonable fee to register and collect this fee on an annual basis.

Failure to file proof of such payment in the record, within 10 days after entry of the order and in January of each subsequent year in which the case is pending, voids the order allowing the appearance pro hac vice.

As a practice note, the application to admit a mainland attorney pro hac vice must be brought by local counsel.  Furthermore, the fee to the Hawaii State Bar ($760 in 2013) must be paid within 10 days after the entry of the order granting pro hac vice and in the January of each subsequent year.

Although each Hawaii Judge can impose their own restrictions to the pro hac vice admission of mainland counsel, we have found that the Courts typically require the following:

  1. Local counsel shall serve as lead trial counsel.
  2. Local counsel shall participate in a meaningful way in all aspects of the case.
  3. Mainland counsel shall comply with the Hawaii State Bar Association Guidelines of Professional Courtesy and Civility.
  4. Mainland counsel shall comply with all requirements of Rule 1.9 of the Rules of the Supreme Court.

Our office regularly assists mainland counsel admitted pro hac vice in Hawaii State Court.  We also assist mainland counsel with pro hac vice admission in U.S. District Court in Hawaii.  The procedure in U.S. District Court pro hac vice admission is different since, generally, the mainland attorney seeking pro hac vice admission is already admitted to a U.S. District Court in her home state.  Our next blog will address pro hac vice admission in U.S. District Court.