SUPREME COURT SEEKS COMMENT ON RECIPROCITY PROCEDURES[Posted April 24, 2013] The Supreme Court is proposing to change the procedures for admission of attorneys from other jurisdictions. The proposal, which may be accessed here, makes a few changes to existing practice while retaining much of the existing framework. Here are some of the notable changes to Rule 1A:1:
Currently, an applicant must furnish a certificate of good standing from the presiding judge of the court of last resort where he’s currently licensed. The new rule would liberalize that slightly, permitting certification by “other proper official,” presumably including individuals such as a Supreme Court Clerk.
The new rule would eliminate the existing five-year-minimum rule for practice. Instead, an attorney must establish that he has been practicing for three of the last five years. The Board of Bar Examiners still must find that the applicant “has made such progress in the practice of law that it would be unreasonable to require the applicant to take an examination.” In other words, you don’t get an automatic ticket, now or under the new rule.
There’s a new requirement to complete twelve hours of Virginia MCLE programs before reciprocity admission will be granted.
Now for a big one: The current rule requires a new lawyer to certify that he intends to practice full-time as a member of the Virginia State Bar. This means that if a foreign lawyer wants to obtain a Virginia license but still maintain a primary office elsewhere, he’s out of luck; his only option is to take the Virginia Bar Exam, even if he’s been practicing for thirty years and is one of the deans of his state’s bar. The new rule simply drops this requirement with no fanfare.
If the applicant’s foreign license is subject to a restriction, the Board of Bar Examiners will be, under the proposed rule, directed to consider whether the applicant’s fitness to practice in Virginia will be affected thereby.
Finally, the full-time-Virginia-practice language in Rule 1A:3 would be removed under the new rule.
So, do you like these changes? Maybe they make your blood boil instead? Either way, write now or forever hold your peace. The court will accept comments until May 31; you can e-mail those thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you prefer snail mail, send your comments to Patricia L. Harrington, Clerk, Supreme Court of Virginia, 100 North 9th Street, 5th Floor, Richmond, Virginia 23219.