ARDC Hearing Board Recommends Censure for Maurice J. Salem

Filed October 18:

Maurice Salem is not licensed in Illinois. He is licensed in New York, but has appeared in a number of cases in the Illinois courts. He was accused of falsely claiming that he was licensed in Illinois. The Law Bulletin has written a number of stories about Mr. Salem and some members of the legal community may have been concerned that the never made an attempt to become licensed in Illinois.

However, Salem avoided serious discipline because, in all his cases save one, he took the time to be admitted pro had vice. In this article I will discuss two of the charges: (a) the alleged violation of Rule 5.5(a) and the alleged violation of Rule 5.5(b)(2).

The Hearing Board explains:

Rule 5.5(a) prohibits a lawyer from practicing law in a jurisdiction in violation of the regulation of the legal profession in that jurisdiction. Ill. Rs. Prof’l. Conduct R. 5.5(a). Comment [1] to Rule 5.5(a) provides, “A lawyer may practice law only in a jurisdiction in which the lawyer is authorized to practice. A lawyer may be admitted to practice law in a jurisdiction on a regular basis or may be authorized by court rule or order or by law to practice for a limited purpose or on a restricted basis.”
Rule 5.5(c) sets forth the following circumstances in which an out-of-state lawyer may provide legal services on a temporary basis in Illinois without violating Rule 5.5:
    A lawyer admitted in another United States jurisdiction, and not disbarred or suspended from practice in any jurisdiction, may provide legal services on a temporary basis in this jurisdiction that:
(1)    are undertaken in association with a lawyer who is admitted to practice in this jurisdiction and who actively participates in the matter;
(2)    are in or reasonably related to a pending or potential proceeding before a tribunal in this or another jurisdiction, if the lawyer, or a person the lawyer is assisting, is authorized by law or order to appear in such proceeding or reasonably expects to be so authorized;
(3)    are in or reasonably related to a pending or potential arbitration, mediation, or other alternative dispute resolution proceeding in this or another jurisdiction, if the services arise out of or are reasonably related to the lawyer’s practice in a jurisdiction in which the lawyer is admitted to practice and are not services for which the forum requires pro hac vice admission; and
PAGE 13:
(4)    are not within paragraphs (c)(2) or (c)(3) and arise out of or are reasonably related to the lawyer’s practice in a jurisdiction in which the lawyer is admitted to practice.
Comment [9] to Rule 5.5 further explains:
    Lawyers not admitted to practice generally in a jurisdiction may be authorized by law or order of a tribunal or an administrative agency to appear before the tribunal or agency. This authority may be granted pursuant to formal rules governing admission pro hac vice or pursuant to informal practice of the tribunal or agency. Under paragraph (c)(2), a lawyer does not violate this Rule when the lawyer appears before a tribunal or agency pursuant to such authority. To the extent that a court rule or other law of this jurisdiction requires a lawyer who is not admitted to practice in this jurisdiction to obtain admission pro hac vice before appearing before a tribunal or administrative agency, this Rule requires a lawyer to obtain that authority.

There is no question Respondent provided legal services in Illinois matters without holding an Illinois law license. However, we do not find a violation of Rule 5.5(a) because Respondent was authorized to appear pro hac vice in all of the cases identified in the Complaint. Respondent fully complied with the requirements of Rule 707 in the matters identified in the Complaint. Consequently, he was authorized by law to practice to provide legal services on a temporary basis for each matter in which he received permission to appear pro hac vice. Comment [9] sets forth that, under paragraph (c)(2), a lawyer does not violate this Rule when the lawyer appears before a tribunal or agency pursuant to authority granted pursuant to formal rules governing admission pro hac vice. Applying this principle to the facts of this matter, Respondent did not violate Rule 5.5(a).

As to the charge that Salem did not indicate on his business cards that he was not licensed in Illinois, the Hearing Board rejected that charge as well.  The explanation:

3.    Holding himself out to the public or otherwise representing that he is admitted to practice in this jurisdiction when he is not so admitted (Rule 5.5(b)(2))

A lawyer who is not admitted to practice in this jurisdiction shall not hold out to the public or otherwise represent that the lawyer is admitted to practice law in this jurisdiction. Ill. Rs. Prof’l Conduct R. 5.5(b)(2). The Administrator’s charge focuses on Respondent’s failure to include particular language on his business cards indicating he was not licensed in Illinois or was licensed only in New York. We find the Administrator did not prove a violation of Rule 5.5(b)(2) for the following reasons.
First, we are not convinced Rule 5.5(b)(2) required Respondent to indicate on his business cards where he is or is not licensed. Neither the Rule, the Comments to the Rule, nor the case law impose such requirements. The Administrator is asking us to read specific requirements into the Rule which have not heretofore existed and would, in our view, impose new obligations on out-of-state attorneys who may provide legal services in Illinois from the full range of practice settings, from solo practitioners to those in the largest law firms. We decline to take such a far-reaching measure without direction from the Court.
Moreover, the Administrator fails to explain how Respondent should have known he had a duty to include information about his licensure on his business cards without language in the Rules, Comments or case law instructing him to do so. If the Court sees fit to impose such a duty, Respondent could not have been aware of such construction of the Rule and, therefore, the charge should be dismissed. See In re Corboy, 124 Ill. 2d 29, 528 N.E.2d 694 (1988).

The Hearing Board did make a finding that Salem did misrepresent his status to one judge, and for that misconduct, recommended that Salem be censured.
Comment: I would expect the Administrator to appeal this decision.
Update: in January 2019, the Illinois Supreme Court suspended Mr. Salem for 90 days and until further order of court. That means he must seek reinstatement in order to practice law in Illinois.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s