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2021 California Rules of Court

Rule 9.49.1 Provisional Licensure with Pathway to Full Licensure for Certain Individuals

(a) Expansion of the Provisional Licensure Program

The Provisional Licensure Program established pursuant to Rule 9.49 shall, no later than March 1, 2021, be expanded to include individuals who scored 1390 or higher on a California Bar Examination administered between July 2015 and February 2020, as determined by the first read score or final score, regardless of year of law school graduation or year satisfying the educational requirements to sit for the bar examination. The Provisional Licensure Program under this rule shall terminate on June 1, 2022, unless the California Supreme Court extends that date.

(b) Definitions

(1)  The definitions of "Supervising Lawyer" and "Firm" or "Law Firm" as set forth in rule 9.49(b) shall apply to this rule.

(2)  For purposes of this rule, "Provisionally Licensed Lawyer" means an individual who:

(A)  Scored between 1390 and 1439 on any California Bar Examination administered between July 2015 and February 2020, as determined by the first read score or final score, regardless of year of law school graduation or year satisfying the educational requirements to sit for the bar examination; and

(B)  Meets the eligibility criteria under (d) and is granted provisional licensure by the State Bar.

(3)  For purposes of this rule, "legal practice" means the provision of permitted legal services to clients in compliance with rule 9.49(f) and (g).

(c) Application Requirements

All of the application requirements of rule 9.49(c) apply to applicants for provisional licensure under this rule. An application for provisional licensure under this rule must be submitted to the State Bar no later than May 31, 2021. Applications shall not be accepted after that date.

(d) Eligibility Requirements

With the exception of (d)(1)(A), all eligibility requirements of rule 9.49(d) apply to applicants for provisional licensure under this rule. However, an applicant who has previously received an adverse moral character determination is ineligible to apply under this rule unless more than two years has elapsed from the date of the final determination or after some other time set by the State Bar, for good cause shown, at the time of its adverse determination, within the meaning of State Bar Rule 4.49.

(e) Responsibilities of Provisionally Licensed Lawyer

All requirements of rule 9.49(e) and (f) apply to Provisionally Licensed Lawyers under this rule with the exception that the State Bar New Attorney Training program described in rule 9.49(e)(1) must be completed in order for a Provisionally Licensed Lawyer to qualify for admission to the State Bar of California under this rule.

(f) Permitted activities

All of the permitted activities set forth in rule 9.49(g) apply to Provisionally Licensed Lawyers under this rule.

(g) Communications and Work Product

For purposes of applying the privileges and doctrines relating to lawyer-client communications and lawyer work product, the Provisionally Licensed Lawyer under this rule shall be considered a subordinate of the Supervising Lawyer and thus communications and work product of the Provisionally Licensed Lawyer shall qualify for protection under such privileges and doctrines on the same basis.

(h) Termination of Provisional Licensure

The conditions for termination of a provisional license under rule 9.49(j) apply to Provisionally Licensed Lawyers under this rule.

(i) Admission to the State Bar of California

A Provisionally Licensed Lawyer, under this rule, shall be eligible for admission to the State Bar of California upon compliance with all of the following requirements.

(1)  The Provisionally Licensed Lawyer shall complete 300 total hours of supervised legal practice in the Provisional Licensure Program:

(2)  Provisionally Licensed Lawyers under rule 9.49 who also qualify for participation under this rule may receive credit for hours of supervised legal practice completed as a provisional licensee under rule 9.49 for purposes of meeting the hours requirement under (i)(1). Such individuals must comply with all of the application and eligibility requirements under this rule to qualify for admission to the State Bar of California.

(3)  The Provisionally Licensed Lawyer shall submit, in the format developed by the State Bar of California, a record of the hours of supervised legal practice completed under supervision of the Supervising Lawyer(s).

(4)  The Provisionally Licensed Lawyer must complete the required total number of hours of supervised legal practice, satisfy all eligibility requirements for admission not met at the time of application to the program, have an active positive moral character determination, submit a satisfactory evaluation(s) pursuant to (j)(2), and submit all other documentation of completion in the format required by the State Bar by June 1, 2022 to qualify for admission to the State Bar.

(5)  A Provisionally Licensed Lawyer who satisfies the requirements of (i)(4), but has a disciplinary matter pending with the Office of Chief Trial Counsel shall, prior to the date the Provisional Licensure Program terminates under (a) and (h), be permitted to continue practicing as a Provisionally Licensed Lawyer if all other requirements of this rule have been met. If the disciplinary matter is pending as of the date the program terminates, the Provisionally Licensed Lawyer shall be placed in an abeyance status until the matter is resolved, and shall not continue to practice as Provisionally Licensed Lawyer.

(A)  If the complaint is resolved with no disciplinary action, before or after the termination of the Provisional Licensure Program under (a) and (h), the Provisionally Licensed Lawyer shall qualify for admission to the State Bar as long as all other requirements for admission remain current and satisfied.

(B)  If the complaint is resolved with disciplinary action, the Provisionally Licensed Lawyer shall not qualify for admission to the State Bar under this program and shall be terminated from the Provisional Licensure Program.

(6)  The Provisionally Licensed Lawyer must comply with all the eligibility requirements for certification to the California Supreme Court for admission to the practice of law under Business and Professions Code section 6060 and rule 4.15 of the Rules of the State Bar of California. A Provisionally Licensed Lawyer who satisfies the requirements of (i)(4) shall be deemed to meet the requirement of Business and Professions Code section 6060, subdivision (g).

(j) Supervision and Evaluation of Provisionally Licensed Lawyer

(1)   In addition to the requirements under (j)(2), all of the eligibility requirements, duties and responsibilities of a Supervising Lawyer set forth under rule 9.49(i) apply to Supervising Lawyers under this rule.

(2)  Each Supervising Lawyer shall provide an evaluation of the Provisionally Licensed Lawyer in the format developed by the State Bar of California. The evaluation shall include the following:

(A)  Verification of the number of hours of supervised legal practice completed;

(B)  A general description of the types of supervised legal practice performed by the Provisionally Licensed Lawyer;

(C)  Whether, in the opinion of the Supervising Lawyer, based on the supervised legal practice performed during the program, the Provisionally Licensed Lawyer possesses the minimum competence expected of an entry level attorney; and

(D)  Other criteria established by the State Bar.

(3)  If a Supervising Lawyer cannot attest that a Provisionally Licensed Lawyer possesses the minimum competence of an entry level attorney, the Provisionally Licensed Lawyer may not be admitted to the State Bar of California under this program without additional hours of supervised legal practice sufficient to establish to the Supervising Lawyer that the Provisionally Licensed Lawyer possesses the minimum competence of an entry level attorney, and submission of a satisfactory evaluation by that Supervising Lawyer before the termination of the program.

Rule 9.49.1 amended effective March 17, 2021; adopted effective February 1, 2021.

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