Pro Hac Vice Admission in Texas Courts

Texas allows “nonresident attorneys” to appear for a single case–commonly referred to as pro hac vice–but makes the process a bit more onerous than other jurisdictions.

Rule 19 of the Rules Governing Admission to the Bar of Texas establishes the procedure for a nonresident attorney to request permission to participate in a Texas state court proceeding on behalf of a client (and, of course, a person from anywhere can represent themselves without first needing to get permission).  That requires an attorney who resides outside of Texas and is licensed in another state or foreign jurisdiction to seek to participate in a particular case by:

  1. Paying a $250 fee to the Board of Law Examiners as required by Texas Government Code § 82.0361 (although that can be waived if representing an indigent client); and 
  2. Filing a written, sworn motion requesting permission to participate in the suit.

The fee application can be submitted online and is usually processed electronically within one business day. 

A nonresident attorney’s sworn motion seeking permission must include:

  • The office address, telephone number, fax number, and email address of the nonresident attorney; 
  • The name and bar number of an attorney licensed in Texas with whom the nonresident attorney will be “associated” for the suit;
  • That Texas attorney’s office address, telephone number, fax number, and email address;
  • A list of all jurisdictions in which the nonresident attorney is licensed (including federal courts) and a statement as to whether the nonresident attorney is or is not an active member in good standing for each;
  • A statement as to whether the nonresident attorney has been the subject of disciplinary action within the preceding five years in any jurisdiction in which the attorney is licensed (and a description if applicable);
  • A statement that the nonresident attorney has or has not been denied admission to any courts in the preceding five years; and
  • A statement that the nonresident attorney is familiar with the State Bar Act, the State Bar Rules, and the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct, and will at all times abide by and comply with those authorities so long as the suit is pending and the nonresident attorney has not withdrawn as counsel.

The nonresident attorney’s motion must further be “accompanied” by (i.e., filed as exhibits): (a) a motion by the Texas attorney attesting they find the nonresident applicant to be a reputable attorney and recommending they be granted permission to participate in the suit; and (b) proof of payment of the $250 fee (or proof of your client’s indigency acknowledged by the Board of Law Examiners).

After the motion and required attachments are filed with a proposed order, most courts in Texas routinely grant a nonresident attorney permission to participate by simply signing the proposed order.

Rule 19 also allows a court, however, to “examine” the nonresident attorney to determine if they are “aware of and will observe” Texas’s ethical standards and whether they have been appearing too frequently in Texas courts or otherwise should not be granted permission to appear.  Upon finding that a nonresident attorney is not reputable, will not observe the ethical standards in Texas, has appeared too frequently in Texas courts or otherwise has engaged in the unauthorized practice of law in Texas, or for other “good cause,” a court can deny the nonresident attorney’s request.  This most often occurs when an out-of-state attorney is appearing so often in Texas courts they are really just avoiding the requirement to be fully licensed in Texas. Permission to appear can also be revoked by a court at any time if the nonresident attorney violates Texas standards, with the violator subject to being held in contempt and referred to a county bar grievance committee (whose jurisdiction the nonresident attorney submits to by filing their motion for pro hac vice admission at the outset).

Federal courts in Texas set their own procedures for a pro hac vice admission. 

Typically, that requires simply filling out a standard form that can be found on the federal court’s website and paying a fee.  Further, unlike Texas state courts, nonresident attorneys can seek to appear in a federal court without hiring local counsel (unless otherwise dictated by local rule), but they must first obtain leave of court and can be required by the court to engage a local counsel before proceeding further.  

Contact Wright Commercial Litigation if you need local counsel assistance in any Texas state or federal court.

****Please note the information above is a brief summary that may not reflect all current legal developments and does not constitute legal advice.  Legal advice can be given only with knowledge of all the specific facts and circumstances applicable to your situation and a current review of all legal standards. The statements on this website are thus for general informational use only and should not be relied upon in any way as legal advice or taken as an indication of future results.  By putting information on this website, Wright Commercial Litigation does not intend to warrant the accuracy of any statements or create an attorney-client relationship with anyone. ****