THE PROCESS AND YOUR COMMENTS
Proposed amendments to the Rules of the North Carolina State Bar are published for comment during the quarter after the council of the North Carolina State Bar approves their publication. The proposed amendments are published in the North Carolina State Bar's Journal and on this website. After publication for comment, the proposed rule amendments are considered for adoption by the council at its next quarterly meeting. If adopted, the rule amendments are submitted to the North Carolina Supreme Court for approval. Amendments become effective upon approval by the court. Unless otherwise noted, proposed additions to rules appear in in bold and underlined print, deletions are interlined. Proposed amendments to the Rules of Professional Conduct appear at the end of the page.
The State Bar welcomes your comments regarding proposed amendments to the rules. The comment period for the proposed amendments below closed on October 20, 2019. The State Bar Council will be meeting the week of October 21, 2019.
Amendments to CLE rules that eliminate the annual 6.0 cap on online CLE credit hours were sent to the NC Supreme Court after the Council’s July meeting. If approved by the Court, elimination of the cap will be effective for the 2020 CLE compliance year.
At its meetings on April 26, 2019, and July 19, 2019, the North Carolina State Bar Council voted to adopt the following rule amendments for transmission to the North Carolina Supreme Court for approval. (For the complete text of the proposed rule amendments, see the Spring 2019 and Summer 2019 editions of the Journal or visit the State Bar website.)
Proposed Amendments to the Rules on Election, Succession and Duties of Officers
27 N.C.A.C. 1A, Section .0400, Election Succession and Duties of Officers
The proposed amendments expressly authorize the president to act in the name of the State Bar under emergent circumstances when it is not practicable or reasonable to convene a meeting of the council. Actions taken pursuant to this authority are subject to ratification at the next meeting of the council.
Proposed Amendment to the Rule on Standing Committees and Boards of the State Bar
27 N.C.A.C. 1A, Section .0700, Standing Committees and Boards of the State Bar
The proposed amendment eliminates the requirement that the Grievance Committee establish and implement a disaster response plan to assist victims of disasters in obtaining legal representation and to prevent the improper solicitation of victims by lawyers.
Proposed Amendment to the Rules Governing the Organization of the North Carolina State Bar
27 N.C.A.C. 1A, Section .1000, Model Bylaws for Use by Judicial District Bars
The proposed amendments reflect the elimination of judicial district bar fee dispute programs.
Proposed Amendments to the Rules on Discipline and Disability of Attorneys
27 N.C.A.C. 1B, Section .0100, Discipline and Disability of Attorneys; Section .0200, Rules Governing Judicial District Grievance Committees
The proposed amendments acknowledge the Grievance Committee’s authority to operate the Attorney Client Assistance Program and the Fee Dispute Resolution Program. They also reflect the elimination of judicial district bar fee dispute programs.
Proposed Amendments to the Rules Governing the Practical Training of Law Students
27 N.C.A.C. 1C, Section .0200, Rules Governing the Practical Training of Law Students
The proposed rule amendments facilitate compliance by North Carolina’s law schools with the ABA accreditation standards for law schools by supporting the development and expansion of supervised practical training of varying kinds for law students including clinics, field placements, and pro bono activities. The proposed rule amendments will also ensure that the clinical legal education programs at the state’s law schools satisfy the requirements for legal practice by law students in N.C. Gen. Stat. § 84-7.1.
Proposed Amendments to the Rules on Standing Committees and Boards of the State Bar
27 N.C.A.C. 1D, Section .0700, Procedures for Fee Dispute Resolution
The proposed amendments to numerous rules in Section .0700 accomplish the following: eliminate judicial district bar fee dispute programs; eliminate language that would allow a third-party payor of legal fees or expenses to file a fee dispute petition; state that the fee dispute program does not have jurisdiction over disputes regarding fees or expenses that are the subject of a pending Client Security Fund (CSF) claim or CSF claim that has been paid in full; provide that, ordinarily, a fee dispute will be processed before a companion grievance; and modernize existing language of Section .0700.
Proposed Amendments to the Rules and Regulations Governing the Administration of the Continuing Legal Education Program
27 N.C.A.C. 1D, Section .1500, Rules Governing the Administration of the Continuing Legal Education Program; and Section .1600, Regulations Governing the Administration of the Continuing Legal Education Program
Proposed amendments in both sections of the rules governing the administration of the CLE program eliminate the annual 6.0 cap on online CLE credit hours.
In addition, a proposed amendment to Rule .1518 of the CLE rules eliminates the requirement that all attendees of a Professionalism for New Admittees program must complete a course evaluation to receive CLE credit.
Proposed Amendments to the Rules of Professional Conduct
27 N.C.A.C. 2, Rule 1.5, Fees
The proposed amendments to Rule 1.5 expand the information a lawyer must communicate to a client before the lawyer may initiate legal proceedings to collect a disputed fee.
At its meeting on July 19, 2019, the council voted to publish the following proposed rule amendments for comment from the members of the Bar:
Proposed Amendment to the Rules Governing the Administrative Committee
27 N.C.A.C. 1D, Section .0900, Procedures for the Administrative Committee
The proposed amendment will allow service of a notice to show cause via publication in the State Bar Journal when the State Bar is unable to serve a member using other authorized methods.
.0903 Suspension for Failure to Fulfill Obligations of Membership
(a) Procedures for Enforcement of Obligations of Membership
. . .
Whenever it appears that a member has failed to comply, in a timely fashion, with an obligation of membership in the State Bar as established by the administrative rules of the State Bar or by statute, the secretary shall prepare a written notice directing the member to show cause, in writing, within 30 days of the date of service of the notice why he or she should not be suspended from the practice of law.
(c) Service of the Notice
The notice shall be served on the member by mailing a copy thereof by registered or certified mail or designated delivery service (such as Federal Express or UPS), return receipt requested, to the last known address of the member contained in the records of the North Carolina State Bar or such later address as may be known to the person attempting service. Service of the notice may also be accomplished by (i) personal service by a State Bar investigator or by any person authorized by Rule 4 of the North Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure to serve process, or (ii) email sent to the email address of the member contained in the records of the North Carolina State Bar if the member sends an email from that same email address to the State Bar acknowledging such service. A member who cannot, with reasonable diligence, be served by registered or certified mail, designated delivery service, personal service, or email shall be deemed served upon publication of the notice in the State Bar Journal.
Proposed Amendment to The Plan of Legal Specialization
27 N.C.A.C. 1D, Section .1700, The Plan of Legal Specialization
The proposed amendment clarifies the prohibition on waiving the minimum years of practice requirement for specialty certification applicants.
.1720 Minimum Standards for Certification of Specialists
(a) To qualify for certification as a specialist, a lawyer applicant must pay any required fee, comply with the following minimum standards, and meet any other standards established by the board for the particular area of specialty.
(1) The applicant must be licensed in a jurisdiction of the United States for at least five years immediately preceding his or her application and must be licensed in North Carolina for at least three years immediately preceding his or her application. The applicant must be currently in good standing to practice law in this state and the applicant’s disciplinary record with the courts, the North Carolina State Bar, and any other government licensing agency must support qualification in the specialty.
(b) . . .
(d) Upon written request of the applicant and with the recommendation of the appropriate specialty committee, the board may for good cause shown waive strict compliance with the criteria relating to substantial involvement, continuing legal education, or peer review, as those requirements are set forth in the standards for certification for specialization. However, there shall be no waiver of the requirements that the applicant pass a written examination and or of the minimum years of practice requirements set out in paragraph (a)(1) above be licensed to practice law in North Carolina for five years preceding the application.
Proposed Amendment to Immigration Law Specialty Standards
27 N.C.A.C. 1D, Section .2600, Certification Standards for the Immigration Law Specialty
The proposed amendment permits the Board of Legal Specialization to offer the immigration law specialty exam either annually or every other year based upon the recommendation of the Immigration Law Specialty Committee.
.2605 Standards for Certification as a Specialist in Immigration Law
Each applicant for certification as a specialist in immigration law shall meet the minimum standards set forth in Rule .1720 of this subchapter. In addition, each applicant shall meet the following standards for certification in immigration law:
(a) Licensure and Practice . . .
. . .
(e) Examination - The applicant must pass a written examination designed to test the applicant’s knowledge, skills, and proficiency in immigration law. The examination shall be in written form and shall be given either annually or every other year as the board deems appropriate. The examination shall be administered and graded uniformly by the specialty committee.