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2014 California Rules of Court

Rule 9.45. Registered legal services attorneys

(a) Definitions

The following definitions apply in this rule:

(1)"Qualifying legal services provider" means either of the following, provided that the qualifying legal services provider follows quality-control procedures approved by the State Bar of California:

(A)A nonprofit entity incorporated and operated exclusively in California that as its primary purpose and function provides legal services without charge in civil matters to indigent persons, especially underserved client groups, such as the elderly, persons with disabilities, juveniles, and non-English-speaking persons; or

(B)A program operated exclusively in California by a nonprofit law school approved by the American Bar Association or accredited by the State Bar of California that has operated for at least two years at a cost of at least $20,000 per year as an identifiable law school unit with a primary purpose and function of providing legal services without charge to indigent persons.

(2)"Active member in good standing of the bar of a United States state, jurisdiction, possession, territory, or dependency" means an attorney who:

(A)Is a member in good standing of the entity governing the practice of law in each jurisdiction in which the member is licensed to practice law;

(B)Remains an active member in good standing of the entity governing the practice of law in at least one United States state, jurisdiction, possession, territory, or dependency other than California while practicing law as a registered legal services attorney in California; and

(C)Has not been disbarred, has not resigned with charges pending, or is not suspended from practicing law in any other jurisdiction.

(Subd (a) relettered effective January 1, 2007; adopted as subd (j) effective November 15, 2004.)

(b) Scope of practice

Subject to all applicable rules, regulations, and statutes, an attorney practicing law under this rule may practice law in California only while working, with or without pay, at a qualifying legal services provider, as defined in this rule, and, at that institution and only on behalf of its clients, may engage, under supervision, in all forms of legal practice that are permissible for a member of the State Bar of California.

(Subd (b) amended and relettered effective January 1, 2007; adopted as subd (a) effective November 15, 2004.)

(c) Requirements

For an attorney to practice law under this rule, the attorney must:

(1)Be an active member in good standing of the bar of a United States state, jurisdiction, possession, territory, or dependency;

(2)Register with the State Bar of California and file an Application for Determination of Moral Character;

(3)Meet all of the requirements for admission to the State Bar of California, except that the attorney:

(A)Need not take the California bar examination or the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination; and

(B)May practice law while awaiting the result of his or her Application for Determination of Moral Character;

(4)Comply with the rules adopted by the Board of Governors relating to the State Bar Registered Legal Services Attorney Program;

(5)Practice law exclusively for a single qualifying legal services provider, except that, if so qualified, an attorney may, while practicing under this rule, simultaneously practice law as registered in-house counsel;

(6)Practice law under the supervision of an attorney who is employed by the qualifying legal services provider and who is a member in good standing of the State Bar of California;

(7)Abide by all of the laws and rules that govern members of the State Bar of California, including the Minimum Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) requirements;

(8)Satisfy in his or her first year of practice under this rule all of the MCLE requirements, including ethics education, that members of the State Bar of California must complete every three years; and

(9)Not have taken and failed the California bar examination within five years immediately preceding application to register under this rule.

(Subd (c) relettered effective January 1, 2007; adopted as subd (b) effective November 15, 2004.)

(d) Application

To qualify to practice law as a registered legal services attorney, the attorney must:

(1)Register as an attorney applicant and file an Application for Determination of Moral Character with the Committee of Bar Examiners;

(2)Submit to the State Bar of California a declaration signed by the attorney agreeing that he or she will be subject to the disciplinary authority of the Supreme Court of California and the State Bar of California and attesting that he or she will not practice law in California other than under supervision at a qualifying legal services provider during the time he or she practices law as a registered legal services attorney in California, except that, if so qualified, the attorney may, while practicing under this rule, simultaneously practice law as registered in-house counsel; and

(3)Submit to the State Bar of California a declaration signed by a qualifying supervisor on behalf of the qualifying legal services provider in California attesting that the applicant will work, with or without pay, as an attorney for the organization; that the applicant will be supervised as specified in this rule; and that the qualifying legal services provider and the supervising attorney assume professional responsibility for any work performed by the applicant under this rule.

(Subd (d) relettered effective January 1, 2007; adopted as subd (c) effective November 15, 2004.)

(e) Duration of practice

An attorney may practice for no more than a total of three years under this rule.

(Subd (e) relettered effective January 1, 2007; adopted as subd (d) effective November 15, 2004.)

(f) Application and registration fees

The State Bar of California may set appropriate application fees and initial and annual registration fees to be paid by registered legal services attorneys.

(Subd (f) amended and relettered effective January 1, 2007; adopted as subd (e) effective November 15, 2004.)

(g) State Bar Registered Legal Services Attorney Program

The State Bar may establish and administer a program for registering California legal services attorneys under rules adopted by the Board of Governors of the State Bar.

(Subd (g) relettered effective January 1, 2007; adopted as subd (f) effective November 15, 2004.)

(h) Supervision

To meet the requirements of this rule, an attorney supervising a registered legal services attorney:

(1)Must be an active member in good standing of the State Bar of California;

(2)Must have actively practiced law in California and been a member in good standing of the State Bar of California for at least the two years immediately preceding the time of supervision;

(3)Must have practiced law as a full-time occupation for at least four years;

(4)Must not supervise more than two registered legal services attorneys concurrently;

(5)Must assume professional responsibility for any work that the registered legal services attorney performs under the supervising attorney's supervision;

(6)Must assist, counsel, and provide direct supervision of the registered legal services attorney in the activities authorized by this rule and review such activities with the supervised attorney, to the extent required for the protection of the client;

(7)Must read, approve, and personally sign any pleadings, briefs, or other similar documents prepared by the registered legal services attorney before their filing, and must read and approve any documents prepared by the registered legal services attorney for execution by any person who is not a member of the State Bar of California before their submission for execution; and

(8)May, in his or her absence, designate another attorney meeting the requirements of (1) through (7) to provide the supervision required under this rule.

(Subd (h) relettered effective January 1, 2007; adopted as subd (g) effective November 15, 2004.)

(i) Inherent power of Supreme Court

Nothing in this rule may be construed as affecting the power of the Supreme Court of California to exercise its inherent jurisdiction over the practice of law in California.

(Subd (i) amended and relettered effective January 1, 2007; adopted as subd (h) effective November 15, 2004.)

(j) Effect of rule on multijurisdictional practice

Nothing in this rule limits the scope of activities permissible under existing law by attorneys who are not members of the State Bar of California.

(Subd (j) relettered effective January 1, 2007; adopted as subd (i) effective November 15, 2004.)

Rule 9.45 amended and renumbered effective January 1, 2007; adopted as rule 964 by the Supreme Court effective November 15, 2004.

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