The placidity of the lake outside my early morning window is calming. The middle child plays something in the background called “Minecraft,” which I don’t mind because of its New Age music, and the other two are still asleep — the oldest, exhausted from JV soccer practice, and the youngest, well, because she’s four. I can hear the crickets and early morning birds, and I think that life is pretty good. Actually, very good. We have chosen a vacation home near enough to our town that we can shuttle the oldest back and forth to workouts, and still spend our afternoons on the lake. At twelve, he doesn’t realize that we have sacrificed a true “vacation” for him, but that is fine — he caught six fish yesterday, and we were happy.
Some of us have a memory that vacations are about piling the kids into a station wagon (deathtraps that we “olds” used to ride in, sans seatbelts, as our parents smoked themselves to death in the front seats, and we rode in the rear-facing bench seat giving the universal “honk your horn” sign to truckers) and riding for hours only to find that “Wallyworld” was closed for repairs. Today’s vacations for attorneys are usually getaways that may put you in a different locale, but with a Blackberry that still demands your attention. You can try to turn it off and leave it on the bed stand, but you know that the brief will still be due or the closing date still looms. First World troubles, I know…
I have grown accustomed to the double-life we lead with clients to service. It’s not that bad. We’re paid fairly well, and I can still watch “Breaking Bad” at my leisure — it may be before or after a conference call, but again, First World troubles. The point is that there is some relaxation involved: an afternoon on the boat, a swim in the cool water, or sitting on the dock with your daughter as she incessantly asks, “did I catch a fish yet?” The Blackberry may flash, but I get to decide when and if I respond. It is ironic that no matter how stern your Out of Office alerts in Outlook may be, clients still expect answers. I imagine someone seeing my OOO, blazing past it and saying to themselves, “gee, he’s on vacation, but I really, really need this very pressing answer.” Post-response, I will receive an obligatory, “thanks for responding even though you are on vacation…” and I will chuckle to myself.
Anyway — on to business. The task force on pro bono work for in-house counsel has completed its work. You will be seeing press conferences and releases soon. The first order of business is to ensure that, if you are admitted out of state and practicing in-house in New York, you register. This is easily done, and will keep you from running the risk of unlicensed practice of law. Keep in mind that this is not pro hac admission, and does not “admit” you to practice in New York – it “allows” you to practice. The number of unregistered in-house counsel is somewhere between 5-9 thousand. If you are in a large department, simply remind everyone to keep up to date, and create a policy. Not a big deal.
Oh, and spare me the retorts about “free work” and enslavement and so on and so forth. You are going to have to follow this process, and it is fine not to like it, but you have to abide. The Dude abides, and so will you. There are no jackbooted thugs awaiting the start date to come and roust you, just as there are no Bar police enforcing the regular admissions requirements. Just do it. If you are confused, or troubled, don’t be. It is all laid out on the State of New York website, and the instructions are easy to follow. I’ll do this one last time; if you are not admitted to the practice of law in New York State, but you work as in-house counsel in New York State, you are required to register with New York State. It is simple as that. Look for more information to come.
Enjoy the last week of Summer. It won’t be back, and hopefully your kids will not remember the car trip, but they will remember the fish they caught.