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"I am licensed in the State of Texas and have been admitted on a pro hac vice basis for a case I am handling in Florida. I am not licensed as an attorney in Florida."

This is what a lawyer wrote to me in an email, when I asked where he was licensed. The matter at hand in in FL or NJ, while he is licensed in TX.

I am not a lawyer but my understanding was that Pro Hac Vice is for appearing in court. We have simply been negotiating via phone/email. How is Pro Hac Vice applied here? And should he be saying that in this case or is he trying to bamboozle me with his legal jargon? Should I request a copy of the authorization he claims to have received?

Answers to any of these questions would be very helpful to me. Thank you in advance!

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How is Pro Hac Vice applied here?

Once you sue your former employer, this lawyer would need to be admitted on a pro hac vice basis if he intends to file an appearance for the defendant (that is, a notification to the court that he will be litigating this matter on behalf of your former employer).

And should he be saying that in this case or is he trying to bamboozle me with his legal jargon?

He might be trying to stave off any presumption of him making "misleading representations" as to being licensed in Florida. That is because false portrayals on that matter would subject him to sanctions by the disciplinary body of Florida and/or Texas. Or he might be trying to get you to trust him so that later on he can deceive you [on something relevant to your case] more easily.

I would consider his disclaimer irrelevant --and bizarre, unless he stated it in response to some inquiry by you-- for the matters you are pursuing.

Should I request a copy of the authorization he claims to have received?

I believe it is unlikely to be of any use. If you really want to scrutinize his status, though, you can always inquire with the TX and FL bar associations.

  • I asked him where he was licensed and that was his answer. At this point, I am looking for some kind of angle to rattle this guy and have him fear some kind of repercussions for his behavior. I'd like to be able to force his hand...without having to drop a lot of cash, which is nearly impossible in the U.S. legal system. – Sizzle Oct 3 '18 at 0:48
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    If the lawyer is a crook, you will have the occasion to denounce his misconduct (and ridicule him, depending on the nature of his inconsistencies). But seeking to rattle him right now is just premature because neither your interactions with him nor your litigation has yet developed to the point where his malpractice --if any-- is evident. Regardless of the undeniable corruption of the judiciary, you will end up disbursing that much cash only if you retain an attorney. Hence my suggestion that you focus on studying laws & court rules in preparation for your case, to litigate it in pro per. – Iñaki Viggers Oct 3 '18 at 10:11
  • I do not think the lawyer is a crook...he is just playing games. – Sizzle Oct 3 '18 at 17:10
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    @IñakiViggers: While I agree with the substance of your post, I don't think that it is bizarre at all. Per the OP's question, the statement was "in an email, when I asked where he was licensed". In it he answers that question, as well as the follow up question of "How can a Texas-licensed lawyer litigate a New Jersey and/or Florida dispute?" – sharur Oct 3 '18 at 17:36
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    Lawyers (who are people) can be good or bad - however just because they are advocating for someone else does not make them bad. Also, they typically have an obligation to the state which supercedes there obligation to their client - so they will usually act credibly - as this lawyer appears to have done. Little point in trying to rattle the other parties lawyer normally - although you can sometimes expend their time at their clients expense to your advantage. – davidgo Oct 3 '18 at 19:04
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"Pro hac vice" representation is where a lawyer from outside the jurisdiction to practice within the jurisdiction, for the duration of one specific case. This has not yet been applied at all in your case, since no lawsuit has been filed yet.

He has not claimed that he has been granted this status in your case; he has claimed that he has been granted this status in a case in the state of Florida.

I cannot read his mind as to his intent, but it appears that you asked him where he is licensed, and he has responded with "Texas", and then answered the inherent follow up question of "How does a Texas lawyer propose to practice law in Florida" with his statement of his current admittance to the Florida bar on a pro hac vice basis. He then (correctly, in my opinion) clarifies that said admittance does not constitute being licensed in Florida. Thus, he does not appear to be attempting to "bamboozle" (wonderful word) you, but rather to answer your inquiry.

The inclusion of the fact may or may not be relevant, since I haven't seen the whole conversation (I am assuming you didn't initiate contact with this particular lawyer at random by asking where he was licensed, but rather there was some preceding back and forth). However, I cannot easily see a situation in which it would be illegal or unethical to mention his current standing in Florida. You could ask him to name the case in Florida in which he has been granted pro hac vice bar admission, but I don't see the benefit, but I'm not sure he would be obligated to respond.

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