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Court in another state admits undocumented man to state bar

In previous posts we have written about the undocumented immigrant residing in California who was seeking to practice law in that state. Though the man graduated from law school and passed the bar exam, rather than approve the application, due to the man’s immigration status, the California Supreme Court decided to review the case. That was four years ago and the man has been in limbo regarding his status as a lawyer ever since.

Prior to attending law school steps were taken to change the man’s immigration status. In 1994, his father, who is a citizen of the United States, applied for a green card for him. Though that application was approved the following year, the now 36-year-old lawyer has not yet received it. In the meantime, the man continued to build a life.

In an effort to help the man’s plight, last year the state’s legislature passed a law that overrode the federal ban against undocumented immigrants being eligible to receive professional licenses. This made it possible for the state’s high court to admit the man to the bar. The court’s unanimous ruling on the matter this week made it official. The court determined that the man’s immigration status was not something that should deny him access to the profession.

While this is undoubtedly good news for this man and others who find themselves in the same position, there are some restrictions placed on the man’s employment possibilities. The man will be able to practice law either outside of the U.S. or free of charge inside the borders. It is unclear whether the can charge clients as an independent contractor.

Though unclear, it is possible that other states in the U.S., including Florida, could follow California’s lead on the matter. Whether this will happen remains to be seen.

Source: Los Angeles Times, “Immigrant without green card can be a lawyer, California court rules,” Maura Dolan, Jan. 2, 2013

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