Second Circuit Asks Court of Appeals to Clarify the Minimum Requirements Under Judiciary Law § 470

On April 8, 2014, in Schoenefeld v. State of New York, 11-4283-cv, the Second Circuit certified a question to the Court of Appeals regarding the “minimum requirements” of New York Judiciary Law 470, “which mandates that a nonresident attorney maintain an office for the transaction of law business within the state of New York.”

In Schoenefeld, the NDNY granted the plaintiff summary judgment declaring that “New York Judiciary Law § 470 unconstitutional as violative of the Privileges and Immunities Clause of Article IV, section 2 of the Constitution. Specifically, the district court held that Section 470, which requires nonresident attorneys to maintain an ‘office for the transaction of law business’ within the state of New York in order to practice in New York courts, places an impermissible burden on” the plaintiff’s “fundamental right to practice law and that the state ‘failed to establish either a substantial state interest advanced by [the statute], or a substantial relationship between the statute and that interest.'” In considering the defendants’ appeal, the Second Circuit reserved decision and certified the following question to the Court of Appeals:

Under New York Judiciary Law § 470, which mandates that a nonresident attorney maintain an “office for the transaction of law business” within the state of New York, what are the minimum requirements necessary to satisfy that mandate?