Attorney-at-Law

“THE SYSTEM WON’T ALLOW IT”

In Uncategorized on 04/03/2020 at 14:03

While not leading in the lame excuse stakes, the sentence at the head hereof is coming up three wide at the head of the stretch. I have heretofore stated (although some might say I have obsessively stated) that the Entry of Appearance (Form 7 on your scorecard) ignores the realities of law practice.

There are law firms. There have been law firms for centuries. These have multiple lawyers, either as partners, shareholders, counsel, associates, or hangers-on however denominated. While one of these may be assigned to a case and remain with it from intake to file-close, it happens more often than not that one lawyer needs another to cover a court appearance, a deposition, a settlement negotiation, or any of the hundred-and-one day to days in the life of a lawyer. Surprisingly, lawyers are human: some need parental leave; some fall ill. Some even take vacations.

But there is no Entry of Appearance for law firms. I understand that only attorneys admitted to USTC should be permitted to file Entry of Appearance (with limited exceptions; see my blogpost “Battlefield Commission,” 1/14/19). I also know that Rule 201(f) does the Genesis 3:24 number on law firms.

All that said, take a gander at Elliott Family Holdings, LLC., Justin C. Elliott, Tax Matters Partner, Per Klixbull, Brigg Bloomquist, and M. L. Lambert, Partners Other Than The Tax (sic; should be “Matters Partner”) , et al, Docket No. 1062-19, filed 4/3/20. And note the dates: they are significant.

“The petition in this case was filed on January 28, 2019, by counsel S as counsel for petitioners. On April 1, 2020, C electronically filed a Substitution of Counsel for counsels C and T. The substitution of counsel is improper because it is seeking to have S enter an appearance as counsel for petitioners in this case. The Practitioners’ Guide to Electronic Case Access and Filing (a copy of which guide is posted in the eAccess section of the Court’s website at http://www.ustaxcourt.gov) states, in pertinent part:

“An entry of appearance, substitution of counsel * * * may be signed and filed by only one practitioner–the practitioner who is eFiling the document. The system will not add additional practitioners who sign the document to the case. Each practitioner seeking to gain access to a case must eFile his or her own separate document.” Order, at p. 1. (Names omitted).

Maybe so a few things changed between January 28 and April 1.

The Elliott Family is represented by a Chicago boutique that does estates and taxes. There are nine (count ‘em, nine) lawyers listed on their website. I carefully avoid stating that all the partners listed thereon are men, and all the associates are women. At all events, more than one of the attorneys mentioned in the order is admitted in USTC. Moreover, to the best of my knowledge, but without having made an exhaustive and independent investigation and review, USTC is the only court in the Federal system with this requirement.

I do not mention the Judge who wrote the order. So to do would sound like a cheap shot, and it wasn’t that Judge who made up the Rule. And I understand why a Judge wouldn’t make a suggestion in an order that the Rule might be changed; that’s for a quiet moment in the Judges’ cafeteria in the Glasshouse, over a cup coffee and a piece pie (hi, Judge Holmes), with colleagues, when the world is free.

In the meantime, while enforced leisure is upon us, let us remember that thoughts are free. And maybe so it’s time for some more Octavia Rules. Permanently.

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