If you want to see an illustration of how legal guidelines purported to guard customers do just about anything but, search no additional than Platinum Fast Funding Group v. High definition Raleigh Inc, d/b/a/ Pure Med Spa, a latest determination out of a New York court docket in Nassau County. There, the court docket granted the plaintiff’s movement to disqualify New York-accredited defense counsel for (horrors!) failing to comply with New York Jud. §470, New York’s in-condition business office need.
Initial, the information. The plaintiffs, a New York-primarily based Platinum Fast Funding Group – a merchant hard cash progress company brought accommodate in Nassau County, New York against a North Carolina business enterprise for reneging on repayment. The North Carolina company retained Rayminh L. Ngo, an attorney accredited in Utah and New York, and of counsel to Higbee & Associates , a national follow headquartered in California. The plaintiffs moved to disqualify Ngo from showing just before the court docket symbolizing the defendants “for failure to maintain an business office for the transaction of law business enterprise in the State of New York” in New York Jud. §470. In reaction, Ngo contended that his company managed workplaces through the nation, and manufactured two leases – one particular that the company held in 2012 but experienced considering that expired, and a second lease that was executed in October 2017 – presumably right after the disqualification movement was filed. But the court was not persuaded that Ngo satisfied the bonafide business office need due to the fact the business office leases had been not in effect at the time the action was filed. Moreover, a approach server dispatched to the leased area confirmed that neither Ngo nor Higbee essentially experienced attorneys bodily current at those destinations. For those good reasons, the court granted the movement to disqualify.
So what’s incorrect with this photograph? A lot.
For those who don’t recall, New York Jud. Code §470 demands non-resident attorneys accredited to follow in New York to maintain an business office in the condition, while New York inhabitants needn’t do so. Since the law unfairly forces non-resident attorneys to bear the charge of sustaining physical business office area in New York while allowing resident attorneys to function out of a Starbucks, Ekatariana Schoenfeld challenged the law, arguing that it violated New York’s Jud. Code §470 the Privileges and Immunities Clause by discriminating against out-of-condition attorneys. To begin with, a federal district court docket agreed. But New York regulators appealed, doggedly defending the physical business office need up and down to the Next Circuit as necessary to guard customers by making certain that they can accessibility their attorney and data files and provide approach on scofflaw out-of-condition attorneys.
Still the New York court’s disqualification of Ngo does just about anything but assure that customers can accessibility their attorneys. To the opposite, the judge’s ruling prevented a North Carolina business enterprise involuntarily hauled into court docket in New York from accessing an attorney at all. In its place, the court’s ruling stripping the qualification of illustration by a New York-barred law firm due to the fact he did not have an in-condition business office that realistically, the North Carolina consumer would never ever have visited anyway. With security like that, who needs enemies?
The judge’s determination doesn’t even do a great deal from a protectionist angle by offering in-condition law firm initial dibs on juicy matters – due to the fact cases like this one particular aren’t accurately a prize. Reasonably competent attorneys won’t be chomping at the bit to consider on a hard cash-strapped consumer (let’s deal with it – Fortune 500 firms aren’t taking out the equivalent of payday loans for tiny firms) with a ticking-clock deadline and an opposing counsel out for bear. In reality, that might be why the consumer sought illustration from an out of condition company to get started with.
The court’s determination rewarded only one particular desire: that of the plaintiff who was able to use an in any other case ineffective ethics rule to shut down an adversary and deprive an out-of-condition business enterprise of illustration. That final result is considerably even worse than ethics as protectionism. It is ethics as gamesmanship.