OSB Professional Liability Fund

PLF Policy 3.180

Out-Of-State Attorneys; Principal Office

(A) The provisions of ORS 9.080 (2) (a) and (c) concerning the location of the principal office of an active member of the Oregon State Bar are interpreted by the Professional Liability Fund as stated in this policy. This policy will apply to all active members of the Oregon State Bar.

(B) Definition of Office: As used in this policy, the term “office” will mean a location which is held out to the public by an attorney as an office where the attorney engages in the private practice of law. Indicia that a location is held out to the public in this manner will include, but not be limited to, the following:
 
(1) Listing of the location on an attorney’s letterhead, business cards, and billing forms as the attorney’s office.
(2) Listing the location in local telephone directories, bar directories, the Martindale-Hubbell directory, and other directories as the attorney’s office address.
(3) Exterior and interior signage indicating to the public that the location is an attorney’s office.
(4) The existence of an office at the location which is dedicated solely to the attorney’s use.
(5) Configuration of the location as an attorney’s office, separation of the location from other offices of the attorney not used as an attorney’s office, and separation of the location from the residence or personal living space of the attorney or another person.
(6) Maintenance of a telephone number for the location which is separate from the telephone number of any other office of the attorney and from the residence or personal living space of the attorney or another person.
(7) Holding of meetings with clients, potential clients, or other counsel at the location as part of the attorney’s private practice of law.

(C) No Office: If an attorney has no office as defined in subsection (B) above, the attorney’s principal office as defined by ORS 9.080 (2)(a) will be defined as the attorney’s principal residence if the attorney is an active member of the bar association of the state of residence; otherwise, the attorney’s principal office will be deemed to be in Oregon unless the attorney affirmatively demonstrates to the PLF that the attorney does not engage in the private practice of law in Oregon.

(D) One Office: If an attorney maintains only one office as defined in subsection (B) above, the attorney’s principal office as defined by ORS 9.080 (2) (a) will be defined as that office.

(E) Two or More Offices:
 
(1) Two Offices: If an attorney maintains two offices as defined in subsection (B) above, the attorney’s principal office as defined by ORS 9.080 (2) (a) will be defined as the office where the attorney is physically present more than 50 percent of the time engaged in the private practice of law.
(2) Multiple Offices: If an attorney maintains more than two offices as defined in subsection (B) above, the location of the attorney’s principal office as defined by ORS 9.080 (2) (a) will be defined by making the following calculation:
(a) All the time the attorney is physically present in all offices of the attorney in Oregon will be aggregated the “Oregon Office Time”. 
(b) All the time the attorney is physically present in all offices of the attorney outside of Oregon will be aggregated the “Non-Oregon Office Time”.
(c) The two totals calculated under subsections (1) and (2) above will be compared. If the Oregon Office Time is greater than the Non-Oregon Office Time, the attorney’s principal office is in Oregon. If the Non-Oregon Office Time is greater than or equal to the Oregon Office Time, the attorney’s principal office is not in Oregon.

(F) In determining the location where an attorney engages in the private practice of law more than 50 percent of the time engaged in the private practice of law for the purposes of ORS 9.080 (2) (c) and this policy, only the amount of time the attorney is physically present at each office of the attorney (as defined under subsection (B) above) while engaged in the private practice of law will be considered. Time spent at any office unrelated to the private practice of law will not be considered. Other factors will not be relevant to this determination, including, but not limited to, the following:
 
(1) The fact that an attorney lives in any particular state.
(2) The fact that the attorney sometimes engages in the private practice of law at home if the home is not an office as defined under subsection (B) above.
(3) The fact that the preponderance of an attorney’s clients are located in any particular state.
(4) The fact that an attorney’s practice is concentrated before the courts or agencies of any particular state.
(5) The fact that an attorney uses secretarial, administrative, or research facilities located in any particular state.

(G) The determination of where the principal office of an attorney is located will be made as of January 1 of each year based upon an attorney’s activities during the prior 12 months (or during such continuous period ending on December 31 as the attorney has maintained at least one office in Oregon and at least one office outside Oregon, whichever time period is shorter). Subsequent mid-year changes in the amount of time spent at various offices will not affect the attorney’s status except under the following circumstances:
 
(1) If the attorney’s principal office as of January 1 was in Oregon, but the attorney ceases mid-year to have an office in Oregon, the attorney’s principal office will cease to be in Oregon as of the date the attorney ceases to have an office in Oregon. The attorney’s Claims Made Plan will automatically convert to Extended Reporting Coverage as provided under Policy 3.620, and the attorney will have no PLF coverage for any acts, errors, or omissions which occur after the date the attorney ceases to have an office in Oregon. The attorney may be entitled to a prorated refund of the annual PLF assessment.
(2) If the attorney’s principal office as of January 1 was not in Oregon, the attorney has an office in Oregon, and the attorney ceases mid-year to have an office outside of Oregon, the attorney’s principal office will be in Oregon as of the date the attorney ceases to have an office outside of Oregon. The attorney must notify the PLF within ten days, and will receive a prorated billing statement for PLF primary coverage for the balance of the year.

(H) An attorney who opens an office in Oregon but continues to maintain an office outside Oregon will not be permitted or required to obtain PLF coverage until the next January 1, and then only if the attorney was physically present at the Oregon office a greater amount of time than at the office outside Oregon during the period when the attorney maintained the two offices. If the attorney wishes to have malpractice coverage before the attorney is permitted and required to obtain PLF coverage, the attorney should either continue whatever coverage was in place before the attorney established an Oregon office or obtain appropriate coverage from the commercial market.

(I) An attorney whose principal office as defined in this policy is not in Oregon is not entitled to obtain PLF primary coverage. If an attorney whose principal office is not in Oregon nevertheless pays the PLF annual assessment intentionally or in error, the attorney will not have any coverage for claims which are made against the attorney which would otherwise be covered by the Claims Made Plan then in effect, and the attorney will be entitled to a refund of any assessment paid upon notice to the PLF and be exempt from participation in the PLF.

(J) (1) The PLF does not have adequate information in its files to determine whether or not an attorney’s principal office is in Oregon, and it is the responsibility of each attorney to make the correct determination for himself or herself each year and update the determination mid-year if appropriate. In the event the PLF has any question concerning whether or not an attorney’s principal office was in Oregon at any particular time, attorneys may be required to provide the PLF with relevant information and supporting documentation upon request. Attorneys may be required to provide such information and documentation as office schedules, time slips, and billing statements; office and docket calendars; travel records and invoices; photographs of office areas and signage; and copies of letterhead, business cards, billing forms, and telephone directory listings. Failure of an attorney to provide information and documentation within 30 days of request will be treated the same as a payment default under Policy 3.350 and ORS 9.200.
 
(2) The principal office of an attorney whose official mailing address (as maintained by the Oregon State Bar) is outside Oregon will be presumed to be outside Oregon for the purpose of this policy. Such a presumption may be rebutted if the attorney completes such forms and provides such information and documentation as the PLF may request and the PLF is satisfied that the attorney’s principal office is in Oregon. Notwithstanding the rebuttable presumption stated in this subsection (2), all active members of the Oregon State Bar whose official mailing address is outside Oregon will be required to file an annual Request for Exemption with the PLF.
(3) No payments for coverage will be accepted, and no coverage will be issued, to any attorney who does not provide the forms, information, and documentation requested by the PLF under subsections (1) and (2) above.

(K) Special Situations:
 
(1) If an active member of the Oregon State Bar (a) does not maintain an office in Oregon, (b) maintains an office in another state, and (c) is not a member of the bar association in the other state, the attorney’s principal office is not in Oregon and the attorney must claim exemption from PLF participation.
(2) If an active member of the Oregon State Bar (a) maintains an office and engages in private practice in Oregon, (b) is a member of the bar of another state, and (c) engages in law-related activities at an office in the other state which do not constitute the private practice of law, the attorney’s principal office is in Oregon and the attorney must obtain PLF coverage. The attorney will not have PLF coverage for his or her law-related activities in the other state which do not constitute the private practice of law.

(L) Examples: This policy is illustrated by the following examples. (The attorney in each example is assumed to be an active member of the Oregon State Bar engaged in the private practice of law.)
 
Example: Attorney A does not maintain an office anywhere and lives in Vancouver, Washington. Attorney A is not an active member of the Washington State Bar. Her principal office is in Oregon.
Example: Same facts as prior example for Attorney B, except that Attorney B is also an active member of the Washington State Bar. Attorney B’s principal office is not in Oregon, even if the majority of B’s practice and clients are in Oregon.
Example: Attorney C maintains an office in Vancouver, Washington, but is not a member of the Washington State Bar. Attorney C does not maintain an office in Oregon, but all of her practice is in the court of Oregon. Her principal office is not in Oregon.
Example: Attorney D maintains an office in Ontario, Oregon, and an office in Fruitland, Idaho. On January 1, Attorney D determines that he spent more time during the prior year physically located at his Oregon office than at his Idaho office. Attorney D’s principal office is in Oregon.
Example: Same facts as prior example, except that Attorney D closes his Ontario, Oregon office on the following May 15. Attorney D’s principal office ceases to be in Oregon on May 15, and his current PLF Claims Made Plan ends as of that date and automatically converts to extended reporting coverage. Attorney D may be entitled to a prorated refund of his annual PLF assessment.
Example: Attorney E maintains an office in Portland, Oregon and an office in Oakland, California. On January 1, Attorney E determines that she spent more time during the prior year physically located at her California office than at her Oregon office. Attorney E’s principal office is not in Oregon.
Example: Same facts as prior example, except that Attorney E closes her Oakland, California office on the following August 23. Attorney E’s principal office ceases to be outside Oregon on August 23, and she must notify the PLF within the next ten days. The PLF will send Attorney E a prorated assessment billing statement with coverage to commence August 23.
Example: Attorney F maintains an office in Portland, Oregon and an office in Seattle, Washington. On January 1, Attorney F determines that he spent more time during the prior year physically located at his Seattle office than at his Portland office. Attorney E’s principal office is therefore not in Oregon. However, during the year it becomes obvious to Attorney F that he will spend more than 90 percent of his time in his Portland office. So long as Attorney F maintains a Seattle office, the location of his principal office does not change during the year and Attorney F is neither required nor permitted to obtain PLF coverage; however, the following January 1 his principal office for the coming year will be determined to be in Oregon.
Example: Attorney G maintains three offices, one in Portland, Oregon, one in Salem, Oregon, and one in Vancouver, Washington. On January 1, he determines that he spent 25 percent of his time at his Portland office, 15 percent of his time at his Salem office, and 60 percent of his time at his Vancouver office during the prior 12 months. Because the Oregon office time (40 percent) is less than the non-Oregon office time (60 percent), Attorney F’s principal office is not in Oregon.
Example: Attorney H maintains three offices, one in Medford, Oregon, one in Yreka, California, and one in Denio, Nevada. On January 1, she determines that she spent 45 percent of her time at her Medford office, 20 percent of her time at her Yreka office, and 35 percent of her time at her Denio office during the prior 12 months. Because the Oregon office time (45 percent) is less than the non-Oregon office time (55 percent), Attorney H’s principal office is not in Oregon. On July 12, Attorney H closes her Denio, Nevada office. Because she still maintains an office outside of Oregon, the location of Attorney F’s principal office for the year does not change even though she spends more time at her Medford office than at her Yreka office during the rest of the year. However, the following January 1 her principal office for the coming year may be in Oregon if her total Oregon office time the previous year exceeded the total non-Oregon office time.
Example: Attorney I is a member of both the Oregon and California State Bars, but maintains only an office in Los Angeles. On September 1, he opens an office in Portland, but he keeps his Los Angeles office as well. During the balance of the year, Attorney I is physically present 80 percent of the time in his Portland office and 20 percent in his Los Angeles office. Attorney I is neither required nor permitted to maintain PLF coverage for the period September 1 through December 31, but he is required and permitted to obtain PLF coverage for the following year as of January 1.