San Diego Law Review


Library of Congress Authority File


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The comments of then-Governor Pete Wilson perhaps echo a commonly held, nationwide belief: the State Bar of California is arrogant.2 If the State Bar of California has been perceived historically as aloof, then the Supreme Court of California created a public relations nightmare-indeed, threw gasoline on a simmering inferno-with its recent opinion in the case of Birbrower, Montalbano, Condon & Frank, P.C. v. Superior Court ("Birbrower If').' In Birbrower II, the court held that a New York law firm was unable to collect the majority of its fees,

which exceeded one million dollars, because some of its attorneys- none of whom were members of the State Bar of California-had

engaged in the unauthorized practice of law in California.4 This Casenote takes the position that the Supreme Court of California's handling of Birbrower II is defensible. This Casenote contends, however, that the facts presented in Birbrower II expose the need for legislatures in general, and the California Legislature in particular, to amend unauthorized practice of law provisions. Such an amendment is

necessary in light of the evolving, irreversible interstate nature of the practice of law. To that end, this Casenote proposes an amendment to California's unauthorized practice of law provision. Part II of this Casenote provides a contextual background for Birbrower II, including a factual summary and the case's procedural route to the Supreme Court of California. Part III examines the core elements, as well as the holding, of the case. Part IV examines California's recognized exceptions to the general rule prohibiting the

unauthorized practice of law. Part IV also discusses the various would- be exceptions to the general rule which the law firm of Birbrower,

Montalbano, Condon & Frank ("Birbrower") urged the court to adopt. Part V proposes a legislative amendment to the unauthorized practice of law statute in California, the purpose of which is to serve the competing, and seemingly incongruous, goals of protecting a state's citizens from incompetent legal representation while simultaneously recognizing the irreversible interstate nature of the legal profession

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