At Least She Has More Time to Cram …

The heavyweights at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges had better hope their former Stanford dean spends every spare minute boning up for her next appearance in Sullivan v. The Bar. Because as one State Bar official said, there is “very little, if anything? that lawyers who live in California, but don’t have a state Bar license, can do to practice law — at least in state courts.

As most of lawyerly America knows by now, Kathleen Sullivan, a former Stanford Law School dean, failed the California Bar exam last year shortly after moving to the state to work as of counsel in Quinn Emanuel’s Redwood Shores office.

Then late last month, the state Supreme Court added to Sullivan’s woes by denying her request to appear pro hac vice for South San Francisco-based Genentech Inc. in a $500 million licensing dispute. That begged the question: What exactly could Sullivan do for her firm without a California Bar license?

She could continue to apply for pro hac vice on a case-by-case basis, but the high court could do as it did last month when it ruled that she didn’t possess “special expertise in a particular area of the law at issue? in the proceeding.

In fact, the California Rules of Court state that pro hac vice status is available only to lawyers outside the state. Rule 983 declares attorneys ineligible for pro hac vice if they reside in California, are regularly employed in the state or are engaged in “substantial business, professional or other activities? within its borders.

Sullivan doesn’t come under other exceptions for limited practice either — such as working as in-house counsel for a corporation or legal services entity, which invokes multijurisdictional practice regulations, or coming from out of state to handle an arbitration. She can’t even claim to be a foreign legal consultant.

“It has more to do with knowing the qualifications and the local court rules,? said Phyllis Culp, the State Bar’s director of certification, “but the court determines who is or who is not admitted in California.?

Dennis Maio, an of counsel in Reed Smith’s San Francisco office who worked as a research attorney for the Supreme Court for nearly 20 years, said Sullivan could possibly ghost write documents, but definitely couldn’t argue in state court. “A rule is a rule,? he said, “and you have to apply it evenhandedly.? The Supreme Court, he said, wants to prevent attorneys from doing “an end run around California licensing procedures.?

In an e-mail response, Quinn Emanuel Managing Partner John Quinn said he expects to keep Sullivan busy nonetheless. “Sullivan is a member of the New York and Massachusetts bars and is also a member of the bars of many federal courts, including the Second, Ninth and Federal circuits and the U.S. Supreme Court,? he wrote. “As such, she deals with cases throughout the country that keep her professionally productive and active.?

Quinn said Sullivan is “currently focused on preparing for the California Bar, and is investing the time and energy necessary for that effort.? In her own e-mail response, Sullivan also noted her licenses in other jurisdictions and said she will be “focusing the necessary time and energy on joining the ranks of [California] lawyers.?

The next Bar exam will be held Feb. 21-23.

— Mike McKee


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