New Court Rule Governs In-house Counsel
For immediate release: December 11, 2003
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Lawyers who are employed as in-house counsel now will be governed by a new court rule adopted by the New Jersey Supreme Court. Court Rule 1:27-2, which goes into effect January 1, 2004, applies only to in-house attorneys who are not already members of the State Bar.
Prior to the adoption of the new rule, attorneys working as in-house counsel but not admitted to the Bar in New Jersey were subject to the requirements of the Supreme Court's Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee Opinion 14. They will continue to be governed by that opinion until they receive their certificate of limited license.
Attorneys seeking limited licensure must submit several items to the Clerk of the Supreme Court, including
- A certified application for a limited license to practice law under the rule;
- A certified statement that they perform legal services solely for an identified employer. They also must certify that they are members in good standing in all jurisdictions to which they have ever been admitted, or, if they cannot certify to that, they must submit full documentation on all completed or pending disciplinary proceedings;
- A completed character and fitness Statement of Applicant;
- A driver's license abstract from every jurisdiction from which the applicant has received a driver's license;
- A credit report;
- Fingerprints for a criminal record check (Fingerprinting in New Jersey will be undertaken through a scanning system approved by the New Jersey State Police);
- A certification from their employer confirming their employment as a lawyer and that the employment conforms to the rule;
- A certificate of good standing from every jurisdiction to which they have ever been admitted;
- A verification from the appropriate disciplinary authority of each jurisdiction to which the applicant has been admitted with respect to any grievances filed or disciplinary action taken against them; and
- An application fee of $750.
Attorneys who are currently employed as in-house counsel must file a completed application no later than March 31, 2004. Lawyers who fail to make a timely application for licensure under the rule may be referred to the Committee on Character or the Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee.
Lawyers who receive a limited license under Rule 1:27-2 are obligated to pay the same annual assessments (to support the attorney disciplinary system, the Lawyers Fund for Client Protection, and the New Jersey Lawyers Assistance Program) as lawyers with a plenary license.
Court Rule 1:27-2 is the result of a report filed earlier this year by the Supreme Court Ad Hoc Committee on Bar Admissions that recommended its promulgation as a way to better regulate the practice of in-house counsel. In response to the report, the Supreme Court released an administrative determination that includes the creation of the new court rule.