Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Perils Of Mobility

If one is going to engage in any form of unauthorized practice of law, a place to avoid is the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

That eternal truth is on full display in a case just posted on the web page of the Disciplinary Board in which the attorney consented to a suspension of six months.

The attorney was admitted in Pennsylvania in December 1992. She went on involuntary inactive status in 1998 and was administratively suspended on April 2, 2010 for failure to register and pay annual fees.

From 1996 to 2006, the attorney was Director/Counsel to Merrill Lynch in Plainsboro, New Jersey. She continued in that capacity until 2007 with BlackRock Inc. after it had acquired Merrill Lynch. She timely applied for In-House Counsel status in New Jersey. 

In 2007, she began with the Hartford in Connecticut. She was accorded Authorized In-House counsel status by Connecticut in 2008 and maintained that status until revoked in 2017.

The problem arose when the Hartford relocated her to its Radnor Pennsylvania headquarters in mid-December 2012. She contacted  Pennsylvania authorities concerning reactivating her license but failed to follow through with the required reinstatement process and engaged in extensive unauthorized practice. 

The case is In re Alice Pellegrino. (Mike Frisch)


Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink


A person “who is a member in good standing of the bar of the highest court of a State may represent a person before [a Federal government] agency on filing with the agency a written declaration that he is currently qualified as provided by this subsection and is authorized to represent the particular person in whose behalf he acts.” 5 U.S.C. § 500(b). This includes the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Internal Revenue Service. While we don’t know from the Joint Petition alone what Ms. Pellegrino’s work was, one might imagine she limited her advice to Federal law, such as Federal securities law and Federal tax law. A State must allow a lawyer to maintain even a physical office in a State for which the lawyer is not admitted if the lawyer limits her practice to Federal practice and misleads no one about that scope. Surrick v. Killion, 449 F.3d 520 (3d Cir. 2006). But to rely on that idea, a lawyer needs at least one State’s license.

Posted by: Peter Gulia | Dec 3, 2017 6:40:15 AM

Post a comment