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Eastern District of Texas

Honorable Rodney Gilstrap, Chief Judge
David A. O'Toole, Clerk of Court

Section III: Attorneys

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  • LOCAL RULE AT-1 Admission to Practice

    (a) An attorney who has been admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the United States, a United States Court of Appeals, a United States District Court, or the highest court of a state, is eligible for admission to the bar of this court. He or she must be of good moral and professional character and must be a member in good standing of the state and federal bars in which he or she is licensed.

    (b) Each applicant shall file an application on a form prescribed by the court. If the applicant has previously been subject to disciplinary proceedings, full information about the proceedings, the charges, and the result must be given.

    (1) A motion for admission made by a member in good standing of the State Bar of Texas or the bar of any United States District Court shall accompany the completed admission form. The movant must state that the applicant is competent to practice before this court and is of good personal and professional character.

    (2) The applicant must state in the application that he or she has read Local Rule AT-3, the “Standards of Practice to be Observed by Attorneys,” and the local rules of this court and that he or she will comply with the standards of practice adopted in Local Rule AT-3 and with the local rules.

    (3) The applicant must provide with the application form an oath of admission signed in the presence of a notary public on a form prescribed by the court. The completed application for admission, motion for admission, and oath of admission shall be submitted to the court, along with the admission fee required by law and any other fee required by the court. Upon investigation of the fitness, competency, and qualifications of the applicant, the completed application form may be granted or denied by the clerk subject to the oversight of the chief judge.

    (c) The clerk shall maintain a complete list of all attorneys who have been admitted to practice before the court.

    (d) An attorney who is not admitted to practice before this court may appear for or represent a party in any case in this court only upon an approved application to appear pro hac vice. When an attorney who is not a member of the bar of this court appears in any case before this court, he or she shall first submit electronically an application to appear pro hac vice with the clerk. The applicant must read and comply with Local Rule AT-3, the “Standards of Practice to be Observed by Attorneys,” and the local rules of this court. The application shall be made using the form that is available on the court’s website and must be signed by the applicant personally. Detailed instructions on how to e-file the application appear on the court’s website, located at Such application also shall be accompanied by a $100.00 local fee, which must be paid electronically. Any attachments to pro hac vice applications will be handled as electronic sealed documents by the clerk’s office. The application shall be acted upon with dispatch by the clerk on the court’s behalf. The clerk shall notify the applicant as soon as possible after the application is acted upon.

    (e) Federal Government Attorneys. No bar admission fees shall be charged to attorneys who work for the United States government, including Assistant United States Attorneys, Assistant Federal Public Defenders, CJA Panel attorneys,and current law clerks serving this court. The clerk’s office has no authority to waive bar admission fees for attorneys who work for state, county, or city governments.

  • LOCAL RULE AT-2 Attorney Discipline

    (a) Generally. The standards of professional conduct adopted as part of the Rules Governing the State Bar of Texas shall serve as a guide governing the obligations and responsibilities of all attorneys appearing in this court. It is recognized, however, that no set of rules may be framed which will particularize all the duties of the attorney in the varying phases of litigation or in all the relations of professional life. Therefore, the attorney practicing in this court should be familiar with the duties and obligations imposed upon members of this bar by the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct, court decisions, statutes, and the usages customs and practices of this bar.

    (b) Disciplinary Action Initiated in Other Courts.

    (1) Except as otherwise provided herein, a member of the bar of this court shall lose his or her membership if he or she loses, either temporarily or permanently, the right to practice law before any state or federal court for any reason other than nonpayment of dues, failure to meet continuing legal education requirements, or voluntary resignation unrelated to a disciplinary proceeding or problem. This rule shall include, but is not limited to, instances where an attorney: (A) is disbarred, (B) is suspended, (C) is removed from the roll of active attorneys, (D) resigns in lieu of discipline, (E) has his or her pro hac vice status revoked as a result of misconduct, or (F) has any other discipline affecting his or her right to practice law imposed, by agreement  or otherwise, as a result of the attorney’s failure to adhere to any applicable standard of professional conduct.

    (2) Procedure.

    (A) If it appears that there exists a ground for discipline set forth in paragraph (b)(1) above, the clerk shall serve a notice and order upon the attorney concerned, such order to become effective thirty days after the date of service, imposing identical discipline in this district.

    (B) Within twenty-one days of service of the notice and order upon the attorney, the attorney may file a motion for modification or revocation of the order. Any such motion must set forth with specificity the facts and principles relied upon by the attorney as showing good cause why a different disposition should be ordered by this court. The motion must also identify all cases currently pending in the Eastern District of Texas where the attorney has filed an appearance. For each matter, the motion should identify the attorney’s client(s). The timely filing of such a motion will stay the effectiveness of the order until further order by this court.

    (C) If the attorney concerned files a motion seeking modification or revocation of the order, the matter shall be assigned to the chief judge, or a judge designated by the chief judge.

    (D) Discipline shall be imposed under this section unless the attorney concerned establishes that: (i) the procedure followed in the other jurisdiction deprived the attorney of due process, (ii) the proof was so clearly lacking that the court determines it cannot accept the final conclusion of the other jurisdiction, (iii) the imposition of the identical discipline would result in a grave injustice, (iv) the misconduct established by the other jurisdiction warrants substantially different discipline in this court, or (v) the misconduct for which the attorney was disciplined in the other jurisdiction does not constitute professional misconduct in this State or in this court.

    (E) As soon as practicable, the assigned judge shall consider the attorney’s motion for modification or revocation on written submission. Thereafter, the judge shall enter an appropriate order or take other such action as justice and this rule may require. 

    (3) Hearing. If the judge determines that a hearing is appropriate, the concerned attorney shall have the right to counsel and at least fourteen days' notice of the date of the hearing. Prosecution of the reciprocal discipline may be conducted by an attorney specially appointed by the court. Costs of the prosecuting attorney and any fees allowed by the court shall be paid from the attorney admission fund.

    (4) Duty of Attorney to Report Discipline. A member of this bar who has lost the right to practice law before any state or federal court, either permanently or temporarily, must advise the clerk of that fact within thirty days of the effective date of the disciplinary action. For purposes of this rule, “disciplinary action” includes, but is not limited to, the circumstances set forth in paragraph AT-2(b)(1) above. The clerk will thereafter proceed in accordance with this rule. Absent excusable neglect, an attorney’s failure to comply with this subsection shall waive that attorney’s right to contest the imposition of reciprocal discipline.

    (c) Conviction of a Crime. A member of the bar of this court who is convicted of a felony offense in any state or federal court will be immediately and automatically suspended from practice and thereafter disbarred upon final conviction.

    (d) Disciplinary Action Initiated in this Court.

    (1) Grounds for Disciplinary Action. This court may, after an attorney has been given an opportunity to show cause to the contrary, take any appropriate disciplinary action against any attorney:

    (A) for conduct unbecoming a member of the bar;

    (B) for failure to comply with these local rules or any other rule or order of this court;

    (C) for unethical behavior;

    (D) for inability to conduct litigation properly; or

    (E) because of conviction by any court of a misdemeanor offense involving dishonesty or false statement.

    (2) Disciplinary Procedures.

    (A) When it is shown to a judge of this court that an attorney has engaged in conduct which might warrant disciplinary action involving suspension or disbarment, the judge receiving the information shall bring the matter to the attention of the chief judge, who will poll the full court as to whether disciplinary proceedings should be held. If the court determines that further disciplinary proceedings are necessary, the disciplinary matter will be assigned to the chief judge, or a judge designated by the chief judge, who will notify the lawyer of the charges and give the lawyer opportunity to show good cause why he or she should not be suspended or disbarred. Upon the charged lawyer’s response to the order to show cause, and after a hearing before the chief judge or a judge designated by the chief judge, if requested, or upon expiration of the time prescribed for a response if no response is made, the chief judge or a judge designate by the chief judge, shall enter an appropriate order.

    (B) At any hearing before the chief judge or a judge designated by the chief judge, the charged lawyer shall have the right to counsel and at least fourteen days’ notice of the time of the hearing and charges. Prosecution of the charges may be conducted by an attorney specially appointed by the court. Costs of the prosecutor and any fees allowed by the court shall be paid from the attorney admission fee fund.

    (e) Notification of Disciplinary Action. Upon final disciplinary action by the court, the clerk shall send certified copies of the court’s order to the State Bar of Texas, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, and the National Discipline Data Bank operated by the American Bar Association.

    (f) Reinstatement. Except for suspensions as reciprocal discipline pursuant to paragraph AT-2(b), any lawyer who is suspended by this court is automatically reinstated to practice at the end of the period of suspension, provided that the bar membership fee required by Local Rule AT-1(b)(3) has been paid. Any lawyer who was suspended as reciprocal discipline pursuant to paragraph AT-2(b) may apply, in writing, at the end of the period of suspension imposed by this court. In the application for reinstatement, the attorney shall advise the court of the status of the attorney’s right to practice before the jurisdiction giving rise to reciprocal discipline in this court. The attorney shall also make a full disclosure of any disciplinary actions that may have occurred in other federal or state courts since the imposition of reciprocal discipline by this court. Any lawyer who is disbarred by this court may not apply for reinstatement for at least three years from the effective date of his or her disbarment. Petitions for reinstatement shall be sent to the clerk and assigned to the chief judge for a ruling. Petitions for reinstatement must include a full disclosure concerning the attorney’s loss of bar membership in this court and any subsequent felony convictions or disciplinary actions that may have occurred in other federal or state courts.

  • LOCAL RULE AT-3 Standards of Practice to be Observed by Attorneys

    Attorneys who appear in civil and criminal cases in this court shall comply with the following standards of practice in this district:4

    (a) In fulfilling his or her primary duty to the client, a lawyer must be ever conscious of the broader duty to the judicial system that serves both attorney and client.

    (b) A lawyer owes candor, diligence, and utmost respect to the judiciary.

    (c) A lawyer owes, to opposing counsel, a duty of courtesy and cooperation, the observance of which is necessary for the efficient administration of our system of justice and the respect of the public it serves.

    (d) A lawyer unquestionably owes, to the administration of justice, the fundamental duties of personal dignity and professional integrity.

    (e) Lawyers should treat each other, the opposing party, the court, and court staff with courtesy and civility and conduct themselves in a professional manner at all times.

    (f) A client has no right to demand that counsel abuse the opposite party or indulge in offensive conduct. A lawyer shall always treat adverse witnesses and suitors with fairness and due consideration.

    (g) In adversary proceedings, clients are litigants and though ill feeling may exist between clients, such ill feeling should not influence a lawyer’s conduct, attitude, or demeanor toward opposing lawyers.

    (h) A lawyer should not use any form of discovery or the scheduling of discovery as a means of harassing opposing counsel or counsel’s client.

    (i) Lawyers will be punctual in communications with others and in honoring scheduled appearances and will recognize that neglect and tardiness are demeaning to the lawyer and to the judicial system.

    (j) If a fellow member of the bar makes a just request for cooperation or seeks scheduling accommodation, a lawyer will not arbitrarily or unreasonably withhold consent. The court is not bound to accept agreements of counsel to extend deadlines imposed by rule or court order.

    (k) Effective advocacy does not require antagonistic or obnoxious behavior, and members of the bar will adhere to the higher standard of conduct which judges, lawyers, clients, and the public may rightfully expect.

    (l) The court also encourages attorneys to be familiar with the Codes of Pretrial and Trial Conduct promulgated by the American College of Trial Lawyers, which can be found on the court’s website, located at, and to conduct themselves accordingly.

    (m) If the lawyer, in the exercise of his or her professional legal judgment, believes that the client is best served by the use of technology (e.g., ChatGPT, Google Bard, Bing AI Chat, or generative artificial intelligence services), then the lawyer is cautioned that certain technologies may produce factually or legally inaccurate content and should never replace the lawyer’s most important asset – the exercise of independent legal judgment. If a lawyer chooses to employ technology in representing a client, the lawyer continues to be bound by the requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11, Local Rule AT-3, and all other applicable standards of practice and must review and verify any computer-generated content to ensure that it complies with all such standards.

    4 [1] The standards enumerated here are set forth in the en banc opinion in Dondi Props. Corp. v. Commerce Sav. & Loan Ass’n., 121 F.R.D. 284 (N.D. Tex. 1988).