SUPREME COURT OF NEW JERSEY
Re: Mandatory Licensing of In-House Counsel Pursuant to Rule 1:27-2
The Supreme Court has adopted a new Rule 1:27-2, which governs the mandatory limited licensing of in-house counsel who either work in New Jersey or who do New Jersey-related legal work in another United States jurisdiction. The limited licensing of in-house counsel applies only to those attorneys who are not already members of the Bar of this State. The required forms and instructions are on this web site.
Applicants will be required to provide the following within sixty (60) days of their being hired as in-house counsel:
- 1. A certified application for a limited license to practice law under the Rule;
- 2. A certification by the applicant that he or she performs legal services solely for the identified employer, is a member in good standing in all jurisdictions to which he or she has ever been admitted, and has either never been the subject of disciplinary proceedings in any jurisdiction or, if the attorney cannot certify to that, full documentation on all completed or pending disciplinary proceedings;
- 3. A completed character and fitness Statement of Applicant;
- 4. A driver’s license abstract from every jurisdiction from which the applicant has received a driver’s license within the last seven years;
- 5. An approved credit report;
- 6. Fingerprints for a criminal record check (Fingerprinting in New Jersey will be undertaken through a scanning system approved by the NJ State Police). The fingerprinting and criminal records checks are subject to fees that are separate from the application fee;
- 7. A completed authorization and release;
- 8. A certification from the applicant’s employer confirming his or her employment as a lawyer and that the employment conforms to the Rule;
- 9. A certificate of good standing from every jurisdiction to which the applicant has been admitted;
- 10. Verification from the appropriate disciplinary authority of each jurisdiction to which the applicant has been admitted in respect of any grievances filed or disciplinary action taken against the applicant; and
- 11. An application fee of $750, in the form of a business check or money order payable to the Board of Bar Examiners. (Note: Personal checks will not be accepted.)
Applicants who do not file within sixty days of their employment will have to petition the Supreme Court for leave to file. If the petition is granted, the applicant will be assessed a late fee of $150 in addition to the regular application fee. 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.
On satisfactory completion of the application process, each attorney will receive instructions on the taking of the required oaths. Properly completed oath cards will generate a certificate evidencing the lawyer’s limited license. The limited license will remain in effect while the lawyer works for the same business entity. If the attorney leaves that position, he or she will have ninety days within which to register a new in-house counsel position or the limited license will expire.
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.
Subject to the specific limitations of the Rule and the Supreme Court’s Administrative Determinations (also posted on this website), in-house counsel shall continue to be subject to the requirements of the Supreme Court’s Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee Opinion 14, which can be found at the Rutgers-Camden Law School website. A lawyer who files a timely application for limited licensure may continue to work for his or her employer under the dictates of UPLC Opinion 14 until the applicant either receives a limited license under the Rule, or is informed that the application has been rejected. Notification of rejection will be sent to the applicant’s employer contemporaneously.
Stephen W. Townsend, Esquire
Clerk of the Supreme Cour