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NJ to allow lawyers without a true physical location to practice in the state

NJ finally reconsidered its long-standing requirement ( Rule 1:21-1(a)) of a physical or, in the words of the rules, “bona fide” office location in the state. Effective February 1, 2017, the rule change allows a virtual office under a few conditions.

First, the practitioner “must structure his or her practice in such a manner as to assure, as set forth in RPC 1.4, prompt and reliable communication with and accessibility by clients, other counsel, and judicial and administrative tribunals before which the attorney may practice.”

Second, the practitioner must designate a physical location for the record keeping and document request purposes.

Third, the practitioner must “designate the Clerk of the Supreme Court as agent upon whom service of process.”

Forth, the attorney must employ [t]he system of prompt and reliable communication . . . [that may be] achieved through maintenance of telephone service staffed by individuals with whom the attorney is in regular contact during normal business hours.”

Finally, the attorney “shall be reasonably available for in-person consultations requested by clients at mutually convenient times and place.”

This is a big win for out of state providers, who could not afford or did not wish to maintain a burdensome physical location in the state. However, many serious practitioners would probably opt for an actual physical office in the state to impress their clients. I am sure that most clients will care.

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