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October 29, 2006

Doug Gansler at the bar -- Part 2

A lawsuit challenged Doug Gansler's eligibility to become Attorney General of Maryland, alleging that he did not practice law in Maryland for at least 10 years. See here for background.

On Friday, a state trial judge ruled in Doug Gansler's favor.

[Judge] Silkworth wrote that the bar membership is a "crucial factor." He also counted Gansler's volunteer work for the Montgomery County Commission on Aging and the county's NAACP criminal justice committee, as well as work for family and friends.
Gansler or no Gansler, here's my problem with that analysis: I'm a lawyer for a federal agency, as you know. Federal law requires government lawyers to maintain at least one active bar membership, and it doesn't matter which one. I've retained my New York bar membership. New York now has a mandatory CLE program (which in my view is institutionalized corruption, but that's something for another day). The CLE requirements apply if you practice in New York; if you don't practice in New York, you're subject to the CLE requirements of your local jurisdiction. Washington, D.C., has no CLE requirement. So if Judge Silkworth's analysis is right, and bar membership is controlling, federal lawyers in Washington who are New York bar members are probably practicing in New York and are subject to New York's CLE requirements. In my job, I have absolutely nothing to do with New York, and it verges on absurdity to suggest that I'm practicing in New York.

UPDATE (11/3): Perhaps the final word on this matter comes from the Maryland Court of Appeals, the state's highest court, which dismissed the appeal from Judge Silkworth's order on the ground that the case was brought too late. No ruling on the merits.