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April 16, 2008

Daybreak Group Inc. v. Three Creeks Ranch LLC (2008) 162 Cal.App.4 37th

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The Fourth District holds that pro hac vice admission of an out-of state law firm is not required to for one of its California-licensed attorneys to appear in a California court.

Daybreak Group, Inc. filed a declaratory relief action against Three Creeks Ranch, LLC related to the sale of Montana real property.  Three Creeks successfully moved to quash service through an attorney who was licensed to practice in California, although his law firm was located in Montana.    

On appeal Daybreak argued that the trial court should not have considered the motion to quash because the law firm representing Three Creeks was not admitted pro hac vice pursuant to California Rules of Court 9.40(a), governing out-of-state attorney appearances in California courts.

The Court of Appeal held that although there was some authority that the word “person,” as used in the rule, could include a corporation or other legal entity, no bar association ever required a law firm to be admitted as a member of the bar.  Thus, it was illogical for the California Bar to require an out-of-state law firm to be admitted on a pro hac vice basis.    

Comment: The licensure of individual attorneys, not their law firms, governs their ability to represent clients in California courts.



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