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P. Simmons
P. Simmons, Attorney
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Experience:  16 yrs. of trial experience
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This is a very specific question and needs a specific answer.

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This is a very specific question and needs a specific answer. I am considering filing charges under Maryland code 10-601 for practicing law without being admitted to the bar.

A compliance lawyer at a health care provider in Virginia sees that a political adversary is suing Mr. X. The lawyer does not know Mr. X, but he hates the plaintiff for ideological reasons. He is not licensed to practice in Maryland, but he offers his pro-bono services to give advice to Mr. X. The plaintiff becomes aware that Mr. X is receiving advice from a lawyer operating under a pseudonym. He does not know this lawyer. He files a subpoena to Internet providers to disclose his name so he can know the identity of the person providing advice to the Respondent. The lawyer files a motion in the Maryland court to quash the subpoena. In this motion, he refers to the Respondent several times as "his client" and asserts "attorney-client privilege." In his motion to quash, he "respectfully XXXXX XXXXX court to dismiss the underlying injunction against Mr. X". As for his reasons for maintaining anonymity in the court, the lawyer writes in his motion to quash, "With respect and no malice to his client, Mr. X is a poor advocate for his own cause and (my) right to anonymous speech should not be breached simply because Mr. X. was unable to stand up properly for himself. Indeed, he allowed a default judgment to be entered against him and could not find affordable counsel in Maryland to stand up for him. (I, anonymously) therefore should be granted standing to challenge the underlying injunction"

He goes on to discuss the Petitioner's demand to know his identity and says he can not reveal it without Mr. X's say so, as "attorney-client privilege" is attached.

My question. Is this attorney, unlicensed in Maryland, representing a "client" in a Maryland proceeding, therefore violating Maryland Code 10-601 which says no one may act as a lawyer in a Maryland court without being admitted to the bar?

Thank you.
Thanks for the chance to help. I am an attorney with over 12 years experience. Hopefully I can help you with your legal question.

I think there may be some confusion

10-601 relates to cruelty to animals

Are we talking about some other state?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.


Hope this helps! :)

Sorry...I was focused on criminal law. This is a regulation of lawyers and what you describe is not criminal (but there may be civil penalties)

So it is not in the criminal law section.

I have the code...give me a few minutes, I want to run through some case law research over this code....
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

No problem. I do know that in Maryland, being found guilty is a misdemeanor, subject to a $5,000 fine and/or 1 year in prison for each count. I am considering filing charges because this now unemployed lawyer, unlicensed in my state, has been providing pro-bono advice to two people who have taken out charges against me (which have since been nolle pross'd) and have sought peace orders against me for using an "@mention" on Twitter -- one such peace order being granted for six months. He hasn't been quite so blatant, but I do have evidence of his fingerprints on my cases. I just want to see if what he did in this previous case arises to the level of violating the law on practicing law without being admitted to the bar. How can he ask a court to provide relief for "his client" in a Maryland court when he is not licensed here?

OK...found the case law (there are a significant number of cases on point...) It may take me 1/2 hour or so to sift through them to check against your fact pattern... First impression is that this is clearly a violation of the code (subjecting the "lawyer" to penalties Is there ANY indication that this is a case of pro hac vice (him requesting admission for one time for this issue)?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

No indication of that whatsoever.

ahh...there is a "loophole" if this is a federal only issue.

Example, if this was a HIPAA case, and it was going to federal court, that would allow a non MD licensed attorney bring the issue to the federal court over a federal matter. This is common on issues like immigration law, or patent law

You state

The lawyer files a motion in the Maryland court to quash the subpoena. In this motion, he refers to the Respondent several times as "his client" and asserts "attorney-client privilege.

Is this federal district court in MD? Or MD state court?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

This is not a federal issue. This is a lawsuit in a Montgomery County, Maryland, District Court. The Plaintiff was seeking a peace order to be left alone by Mr. X, when the Virginia lawyer jumped into the case.

The the answer is clearly this is a violation

Give me a bit if time and will provide cases to support
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you. In fact, this was in Montgomery County Circuit Court. The Attorney sought to offer his assistance to the Respondent on an anonymous basis and when the Plaintiff objected and filed a subpoena to have the lawyer's internet provider reveal his name, the lawyer responded with a motion to quash the subpoena, in which he asked the court to find for the Respondent, to allow him to keep his anonymity, and referring to the respondent as "my client", asserting "attorney-client privilege."

There are literally dozens of cases that apply (are on point) to show what happened was a violation of BUSINESS OCCUPATIONS AND PROFESSIONS  10-606 (a)(3) which is a criminal offense (misdemeanor). The cases on point stem from bar complaints...they are brought by the Attorney grievance commission against individuals.

I will list a few of the cases with links (so you can review them yourself)

Of note, there are MANY cases that apply that deal with MD lawyers who are suspended or disbarred. The analysis is the same (if you are suspended from practice and practice, you violate the law), but I have limited the cases to folks who are licensed in a different state and practice in MD.

Here are the cases


NY attorney sets up practice in MD. Claims it is limited to federal immigration (which under federal law would be legal). But there is evidence he is representing clients on state law matters (on tort claims)

Link here

This case really covers your fact pattern on several points. It does a great analysis of the MRPC (the Maryland rules of professional conduct for lawyers) and how in this case the NY lawyer was clearly representing MD clients on MD law matters (personal injury law issues). It shows that any person (attorney not licensed in MD or non attorney not licensed in MD) who claims to be a MD lawyer and represents it to a party, that is a violation of the law.


Link here

Another case of a NY lawyer opening up shop in MD.

Similar fact pattern is similar. It started with a grievance and led to a criminal case. Like the AMBE case, it does a good job of going over the MRPC implications of practice in MD without a license. IN this case, the individual represented clients and, in at least one case, file pleadings to a MD state court on behalf of a client.

379 Md. 1 (2003)

Link here

Another case of a NY lawyer. He took the MD bar exam but had not been admitted

In this case, he had represented multiple clients to the MD Courts. This case does talk at length about the “legitimate” clients (federal immigration clients) but also about the numerous clients he represented on state law issues.

So there you have 3 cases that are similar. Lawyers licensed in a separate state, representing individuals to MD state courts, acting as a lawyer.

Clearly a violation of MD law

Sorry for the delay...again, most of the cases on point were of MD lawyers suspended or disbarred...had to search for cases of lawyers from other jurisdictions

Let me know if you have more questions...happy to assist if I can
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