The Florida Supreme Court just approved major amendments to the Florida rules that address the issue of multijurisdictional practice. The new rules, which take effect next year, allow unlimited practice of international arbitration in Florida by non-Florida attorneys, but limit practitioners of domestic arbitration to three appearances within a 365-day period.
For years, attorneys from states other than Florida who have an opportunity to engage in Sunshine State-based legal practice have bemoaned the fact that they would have to take the bar exam to practice law in Florida.1 This restriction on law practice puts Florida in the minority of jurisdictions that do not admit out-of-state attorneys to practice based on reciprocity (i.e., being licensed to practice law and in good standing in another state).2 The bar exam requirement ostensibly protects the citizens of Florida from unqualified practitioners, although some commentators have argued that the true purpose of this requirement is to protect the economic self-interest of the attorneys already practicing there.3
The tension between public protection and professional protectionism has heightened as lawyers around the country have broadened their practices to other jurisdictions to service clients who do business in multiple states and even internationally. Florida rules governing law practice define “multijurisdictional” law practice as a lawyer providing legal services in a jurisdiction where the lawyer is not licensed to practice law.4