Four states – Colorado, Illinois, New York, and Virginia – have adopted useful language that eases restrictions on registered in-house counsel’s ability to provide pro bono legal services to underserved communities. These provisions serve as models for other jurisdictions.
Colorado Rule 222. Single-Client Counsel Certification:
(4) Authority. An attorney approved under this rule has the authority to act on behalf of the single-client for all purposes as if licensed in Colorado. An attorney approved under this rule shall be deemed, for the purposes of Colorado Revised Statutes, Title 12, Article 5, Sections 101, 112, and 115, to have obtained a license for the limited scope of practice specified in this rule. Additionally, an attorney approved under this rule has the authority to provide voluntary pro bono public service to indigent persons and organizations serving indigent persons. (Emphasis added.)
Illinois Rule 716. Limited Admission Of House Counsel:
(g) Authority and Limitations. A lawyer licensed and employed as provided by this Rule has the authority to act on behalf of his or her employer for all purposes as if licensed in Illinois. The lawyer may not act as counsel for the employer until the application is accepted and approved by the Court. A lawyer licensed under this rule shall not offer legal services or advice to the public or in any manner hold himself or herself out to be engaged or authorized to engage in the practice of law, except such lawyer may provide voluntary pro bono public services as defined in Rule 756(f).
New York Rule 522.8. Pro bono legal services:
Notwithstanding the restrictions set forth in section 522.4 of this Part, an attorney registered as in-house counsel under this Part may provide pro bono legal services in this State in accordance with New York Rules of Professional Conduct (22 NYCRR 1200.0) rule 6.1(b) and other comparable definitions of pro bono legal services in New York. An attorney providing pro bono legal services under this section:
(a) shall be admitted to practice and in good standing in another state or territory of the United States or in the District of Columbia and possess the good moral character and general fitness requisite for a member of the bar of this State, as evidenced by the attorney’s registration pursuant to section 522.1(b) of this Part;
(b) pursuant to section 522.2(c)(2) of this Part, agrees to be subject to the disciplinary authority of this State and to comply with the laws and rules that govern attorneys admitted to the practice of law in this State, including the New York Rules of Professional Conduct (22 NYCRR Part 1200.0) and the rules governing the conduct of attorneys in the judicial department where the attorney’s registration is issued;
(c) may appear, either in person or by signing pleadings, in a matter pending before a tribunal, as that term is defined in New York Rules of Professional Conduct (22 NYCRR 1200.0) rule 1.0(w), at the discretion of the tribunal, without being admitted pro hac vice in the matter. Prior to any appearance before a tribunal, a registered in-house counsel must provide notice to the tribunal that the attorney is not admitted to practice in New York but is registered as in-house counsel pursuant to this Part. Such notice shall be in a form approved by the Appellate Division; and
(d) shall not hold oneself out as an attorney admitted to practice in this State, in compliance with section 522.4(d) of this Part.
Virginia Rule 1A:5. Virginia Corporate Counsel & Corporate Counsel Registrants:
g) Notwithstanding the restrictions set out in Part I(f) above on the scope of practice, a lawyer certified pursuant to Part I of this rule may, and is encouraged to, provide voluntary pro bono publico services in accordance with Rule 6.1 of the Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct.
(h) All legal services provided in Virginia by a lawyer certified pursuant to Part I of this rule shall be deemed the practice of law and shall subject the lawyer to all rules governing the practice of law in Virginia, including the Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct and Part 6, Section IV, Paragraph 13 of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia. Jurisdiction of the Virginia State Bar shall continue whether or not the lawyer retains the Corporate Counsel Certificate and irrespective of the lawyer’s presence in Virginia.
In addition, CPBO has drafted language for other jurisdictions to consider. To receive more information contact CPBO.