Opinion date: Dec. 21, 2001
Ethics issue presented:
Whether the Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct prohibit an attorney from sending a letter of representation on behalf of a client located in a state in which the lawyer is not licensed to a debtor located in that state.
Facts as presented by Inquirer:
Inquirer represents a corporation based in a state in which Inquirer is not licensed to practice. The corporation has an unpaid receivable from a person located in that state and has asked Inquirer to send that person a letter demanding prompt payment of the debt and threatening suit if the debt is not paid promptly. Inquirer's question is whether such letter would violate the Rules of Professional Conduct in view of the fact that he is not licensed to practice in that state.
Inquirer was advised that Rule 5.5(b) prohibits a Pennsylvania lawyer from practicing law in a jurisdiction where to do so would be in violation of regulations of the profession in that jurisdiction, but that the Ethics Committee cannot provide advice as to what may constitute "practicing law" in any particular jurisdiction. Consequently, Inquirer must determine for himself whether what he proposes to do would constitute the unauthorized practice of law in that other state.