What is a “Pro Hac Vice” Motion & Why does my Attorney need it?

What is a “Pro Hac Vice” Motion & Why does my Attorney need it?

Normal people watch movies and television shows for their entertainment value. Here at Ferrante, Dill & Hisle, LLC we watch movies and television shows for the blog content! Fodder for this week’s blog post comes from all those times we see lawyers from one state showing up to rescue a friend or family member who got into some legal trouble, got arrested and taken to the room with two-way mirrors and donuts for a game of Good Cop/Bad Cop. Dramatic music plays. The doors swing open. In swoops the hot-shot lawyer from (insert state here) to save the day!

But does it really happen in real life the way it does in the movies? (Does anything, really?) The answer here: yes and no. Read on to find out what really happens and what you would need to do to secure qualified, legal representation should you get into trouble away from your home state.

How to Become a Lawyer

First things first: it’s important to understand what all goes into actually becoming a legitimate lawyer. Legitimate here meaning educated, licensed and in good standing (so, not your mom’s friend’s brother’s daughter-in-law that completed a semester of law school 10 years ago). According to the American Bar Association (ABA), most states require the following of any person before they are allowed to practice law:

  • Have a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent.
  • Complete three years at an ABA-accredited law school.
  • Pass a state bar examination. This exam tests a person’s knowledge on selected areas of law, professional ethics and responsibility.
  • Pass a character and fitness review.
  • Take an oath to support the laws and the state and federal constitutions.
  • Receive a license from the highest court in the state. This is usually known as the State Supreme Court or Court of Appeals.

A person who successfully completes all of these tasks would then become a licensed attorney qualified to practice law in the state for which he or she took the bar exam.

The Uniform Bar Examination (UBE)

Those wishing to practice in other states or who perhaps don’t know yet where they will settle have the option to take the Uniform Bar Examination (UBE). Because this test is uniformly administered and graded, the results can be transferred across states that accept the UBE. It’s important to note that not all states will accept a prospective lawyer’s UBE test scores. Currently, Maryland, D.C. and Delaware are UBE jurisdictions, meaning they will accept those scores. In addition to satisfactory UBE test scores, each state may have additional exams or courses that they require in order to become officially licensed.

So, what is “Pro Hac Vice”?

Pro Hac Vice” (pronounced: vee-chay) is a Latin term meaning “for this occasion only”. In the legal world, Pro Hac Vice is a motion that must be filed for an attorney who is not licensed in the jurisdiction where his or her client needs representation. These one-off motions come in handy for attorneys who may not have taken the UBE and are therefore not licensed in UBE jurisdictions, or for an attorney attempting to represent a client in a state that is a non-UBE jurisdiction.

In Maryland, any out-of-state attorney in good-standing may be admitted pro hac vice in any civil case pending in the courts, unless it has been sealed. Similarly, any out-of-state attorney in good-standing may also be admitted pro hac vice by the Maryland Courts to represent a client in a criminal case.

Representation, where it matters

At Ferrante, Dill & Hisle, LLC all of our attorneys are licensed to practice law in Maryland and D.C. We stand ready to assist you with any matter, big or small whether it be in our hometown or in the city. Give us a call today to schedule a free consultation: (410) 535-6100 or send us an email at info@ferrantedill.com



This blog post that is published by Ferrante & Dill is only available for informational purposes and should not be considered legal advice. By viewing these blog posts, the reader understands there is no attorney-client relationship between the blog publisher and the reader. The blog post should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed professional attorney, and we recommend readers to consult their own legal counsel on any specific legal questions concerning a specific situation.