Local Counsel Requirement
People often describe Montana as a “great big small town”. We know each other, and nowhere is that more true than in the practice of law. We generally know the lawyers and judges and when we don’t, we can call someone who does.
Crist, Krogh & Nord, PLLC has worked for major corporations and their regular outside counsel across the country. We are interested in representing businesses directly or in association with regular outside counsel, but only if you want lawyers who will be actively involved in your case. If you want someone to “front” the case, carry your bags, or run to the Court for last-minute extensions or protective orders, we’re not your guys. If, instead, you want experienced trial counsel who knows and can work with the local lawyers and judges, that’s us.
The uncivil practice of law that has become more commonplace in other jurisdictions is not the norm and is not well-received. It has spawned rules in State and Federal Court that require active participation by local counsel in all aspects of the case.
The Montana Supreme Court has promulgated rules that severely limit non-Montana lawyers from practice in state courts. No attorney or firm may appear pro hac vice in more than two actions or administrative proceedings, absent a showing of good cause. Good cause is not to be “routinely granted”, and will generally require some reason such as a finding that the non-Montana lawyer possesses expertise not commonly available in Montana.
Moreover, local counsel must be associated on all matters, and are required to “sign all pleadings, motions, briefs and participate actively in all phases of the case, including …attendance at depositions and court or agency proceedings, preparations of discovery responses and briefs and all other activities necessary to be prepared to go forward with the case at all times”. The Supreme Court rules for pro hac vice practice can be found at http://www.montanabar.org/displaycommon.cfm?an=1&subarticlenbr=7.
In the United States District Court for the District of Montana, Local Rule 83.3(e) requires non-Montana counsel to file an application to appear pro hac vice that includes the name, address, telephone number, and written consent of local counsel who is a member of the bar of the United States District Court of the District of Montana and with whom the Court and opposing counsel may readily communicate regarding the conduct of the case. Local counsel is required under the Rule to sign all pleadings, motions and briefs and participate actively in all phases of the case including, but not limited to, attendance at depositions and court proceedings, preparation of discovery responses and briefs, and all other activities to the extent necessary for local counsel to be prepared to go forward with the case at all times. The only material difference between State and Federal Court is that the two-case limit does not apply to Federal Court.