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Attorneys discuss pros and cons of practicing in 2 states

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Attorneys in Indiana know that they must meet certain ongoing requirements to maintain their law licenses: CLE hours, and staying abreast of procedural changes. Why, then, would anyone want to be licensed in two states?

For Jeffry Lind, Indiana State Bar Association president, the answer is simple.

jeffrey lind Lind

“I changed firms, and the new firm had litigation work available in Illinois, and I wanted to help out, do my part, be a team player,” he said.

Lind, who passed the bar in Indiana in 1998 and was admitted on motion in Illinois in 2002, practices in Terre Haute, about 10 miles from the Indiana-Illinois border. Like many attorneys who live along Indiana’s borders, Lind is able to handle more cases thanks to his dual licensing. But he also encountered challenges when he was admitted to the Illinois Bar.

“Initially, I was the stranger in town when I went to communities in Illinois. At that time, I had practiced 14 years, so it was difficult to walk in as the stranger and as the guy who was granted no respect,” he said. Ultimately, Lind said, he enjoyed the challenge of making a name for himself again.

“I have met some great lawyers I would have never met,” he said. “It’s kind of like expanding your legal community.”

Unlike Lind, attorney Susan Kozlowski decided to take both the Indiana and Illinois bar exams right out of law school.

“I figured that was the point in time when I would be most likely to remember the questions and answers, and I was already writing checks, so I might as well fill out an application,” Kozlowski said.

“I would tell kids coming out of law school – I think most exams are multistate, I think it’s just the essay they have to study up on. So just do it, especially if you live in a border town. People are impressed by that,” she said.

Kozlowski runs a solo practice in Crown Point, where her dual-state licensing comes in handy when handling family law cases, particularly when one parent in a divorce moves across state lines.

“Some people will call before they move to see how moving to another state might affect their child support,” she said.

In probate cases, too, clients appreciate working with an attorney who can handle complicated estate matters.

“Right now I’m doing one where the person owned property in Illinois, but he died in Indiana,” Kozlowski said, adding that a wrongful death lawsuit had been filed on behalf of the decedent. “Now there’s kind of a war as to who has jurisdiction.”

But according to Patrick Olmstead, chair of the ISBA’s Ethics Hotline, some attorneys may misinterpret jurisdiction – or the limits of their ability to work on a case.

Olmstead said an attorney he knew who was living in Ohio and applying to the Ohio bar represented a former Indiana client, who was an Indiana resident, on a will change.

“The Ohio disciplinary authorities found out about the amended will and charged her with the Unauthorized Practice of Law (even though she was an Indiana-licensed attorney taking care of an Indiana client). Other jurisdictions have ruled similarly,” Olmstead said.

“As chair of the Ethics Hotline, I also warn people that multiple licenses create unique disciplinary issues. For example, which state’s disciplinary rules apply when you’re representing an Illinois client? It’s a fact-sensitive question,” he said.

Olmstead is licensed to practice in Indiana and Missouri. “I tell people that it’s a pain, and recommend against getting admitted in multiple states, unless you practice near a border,” he said via email. “I do not actively practice in Missouri. Yet, I still have Missouri CLE requirements, bar dues, etc. Even though it’s easier when you go on ‘inactive’ status, it’s still a use of your time.”

Attorney Candace Armstrong said her motivation for dual-state licensing is likely different than most attorneys’. A 2004 graduate of the Valparaiso University School of Law, she passed the bar in Illinois and went to work for a large law firm in Chicago. But she and her husband found a golf course for sale in Brook, Ind., and decided to buy it. “Golf courses don’t come up for sale in a lot of places,” she said.

Deciding the commute between Brook and Chicago was just a little too far, Armstrong decided to become admitted to practice in Indiana on-motion and opened a solo practice in Brook, a town of about 1,000 people.

Armstrong sees a niche for herself in Brook, where small, rural businesses may not have easy access to attorneys. At least that’s the case in Illinois, she observed. “The attorneys in Illinois seem to be heavily concentrated in Chicago and Springfield,” she said.

Armstrong maintains her Illinois license, because some of her clients have businesses on both sides of the border.

When asked about the possible complications of practicing in two states, Lind did not have any immediate or serious concerns.

“In the litigation aspect of it, there’s a small learning curve – learning the difference between the court systems,” Lind said. “I’m sure there are (complications) in other states, but Illinois accepts my CLE hours,” he said.

State laws regarding advertising for legal services vary from state to state, but, Kozlowski said, she avoids any complications by keeping her strategy simple.

“I go nowhere near that flame,” she said. “I don’t reach out to people. I mean, I advertise, but it’s like general phone book or Internet. More and more, most of your business comes from word of mouth; Internet second; phone book last.”•

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  • cons
    I would like to try to find a lawyer as soon possible I've had my money stolen off of my bank card driver pressed charges and I try to get the information they need it and a Social Security board is just give me a hold up a run around for no reason and now it think it might be too late cuz its been over a year I believe and I can't get the right information they need because they keep giving me the runaroundwhat should I do about that

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  1. Indianapolis employers harassment among minorities AFRICAN Americans needs to be discussed the metro Indianapolis area is horrible when it comes to harassing African American employees especially in the local healthcare facilities. Racially profiling in the workplace is an major issue. Please make it better because I'm many civil rights leaders would come here and justify that Indiana is a state the WORKS only applies to Caucasian Americans especially in Hamilton county. Indiana targets African Americans in the workplace so when governor pence is trying to convince people to vote for him this would be awesome publicity for the Presidency Elections.

  2. Wishing Mary Willis only God's best, and superhuman strength, as she attempts to right a ship that too often strays far off course. May she never suffer this personal affect, as some do who attempt to change a broken system: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QojajMsd2nE

  3. Indiana's seatbelt law is not punishable as a crime. It is an infraction. Apparently some of our Circuit judges have deemed settled law inapplicable if it fails to fit their litmus test of political correctness. Extrapolating to redefine terms of behavior in a violation of immigration law to the entire body of criminal law leaves a smorgasbord of opportunity for judicial mischief.

  4. I wonder if $10 diversions for failure to wear seat belts are considered moral turpitude in federal immigration law like they are under Indiana law? Anyone know?

  5. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

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