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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. Please adress them to Alice Mine

Highlights

  • Supreme Court approves rule amendments eliminating the annual 6.0 cap on online CLE credit hours.

  • Proposed amendments to the Plan for Certification of Paralegals will permit an applicant to qualify to sit for the certification exam based upon work experience as an alternative to qualifying by education.

Amendments APPROVED BY THE Supreme Court

At a conference on September 25, 2019, the North Carolina Supreme Court approved the following amendments to the rules of the North Carolina State Bar:

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 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.

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 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.

Amendments 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 amendments reflect the elimination of judicial district bar fee dispute programs.

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 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.

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 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 amendments 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.

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 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; and provide that, ordinarily, a fee dispute will be processed before a companion grievance.

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

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, an amendment to Rule .1518 eliminates the requirement that all attendees of the Professionalism for New Admittees program must complete a course evaluation to receive CLE credit.

Amendments to the Rules of Professional Conduct

27 N.C.A.C. 2, Rule 1.5, Fees

The 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.

Amendments Pending Supreme Court Approval

At its meeting on October 25, 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 Fall 2019 edition of the Journal or visit the State Bar website: ncbar.gov.)

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.

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.

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. 

Proposed Amendments 

At its meeting on October 25, 2019, the council voted to publish the following proposed rule amendments for comment from the members of the Bar:

Proposed Amendments to the Immigration Law Specialty Standards

27 N.C.A.C. 1D, Section .2600, Certification Standards for the Immigration Law Specialty

The proposed amendments update and clarify the requirements for substantial involvement for certification as a specialist in immigration law.

.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:

. . .

(b) Substantial Involvement - An applicant shall affirm to the board that the applicant has experience through substantial involvement in the practice of immigration law.

(1) An applicant shall affirm that during the five years immediately preceding the application, the applicant devoted an average of at least 700 hours a year to the practice of immigration law, but not less than 400 hours in any one year. Service as a law professor concentrating in the teaching of immigration law for two semesters may be substituted for one year of experience to meet the five-year requirement.

(2) An applicant shall show substantial involvement in immigration law for the required period by providing such information as may be required by the board regarding the applicant’s participation in at least five of the seven categories of activities listed below during the five years immediately preceding the date of application:. For the purposes of this section, “representation” means the entry as the attorney of record and having primary responsibility for presenting the case before the appropriate adjudicatory agency or tribunal.

(A) Family Immigration. Representation of clients before the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or the State Department in the filing of petitions and family-based applications, including the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

(B) Employment-Related Immigration. Representation of employers and/or aliens before at least one of the following: the N.C. Employment Security Commission, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service USCIS, Homeland Security Investigations, or the U.S. Department of State in employment-related immigration matters and filings or U.S. Information Agency.

(C) Naturalization and Citizenship. Representation of clients before the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service and judicial courts USCIS in naturalization and citizenship matters.

(D) Administrative Hearings and Appeals. Representation of clients before immigration judges in deportation, exclusion removal, bond redetermination, and other administrative matters; and the representation of clients in appeals taken before the Board of Immigration Appeals and the Attorney General, the Administrative Appeals Unit Office, the Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals and DOL, Regional commissioners, Commissioner, Attorney General, Department of State Board of Appellate Review, and or the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration Related Unfair Employment Practices (OCAHO).

(E) Administrative Proceedings and Review in Judicial Courts Federal litigation. Representation of clients in judicial matters such as applications for before Article III courts in habeas corpus petitions, mandamus or Administrative Procedures Act complaints and declaratory judgments;, criminal prosecution of violations of matters involving immigration law;, district court naturalization and denaturalization proceedings, or petitions for review or certiorari in judicial courts; and ancillary proceedings in judicial courts.

(F) Asylum and Refugee Status. Representation of clients in these matters before USCIS or immigration judges in applications for asylum, withholding of removal, protection under the Convention Against Torture, or adjustment of status for refugees or asylees.

(G) Employer Verification, Sanctions, Document Fraud, Bond and Custody, Rescission, Registry, and Fine Proceedings. Representation of clients in these matters. Applications for Temporary or Humanitarian Protection. Representation of clients before USCIS, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), immigration judges, or the Department of State in applications for Temporary Protected Status, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act (NACARA), parole in place, humanitarian parole, deferred action, orders of supervision, U and T visas, or other similar protections and benefits.

Proposed Amendments to The Plan for Certification of Paralegals

27 N.C.A.C. 1G, Section .0100, The Plan for Certification of Paralegals

The proposed amendments eliminate the educational prerequisite for paralegal certification for applicants who satisfy work experience requirements. To be certified, applicants who satisfy the work experience requirements must pass the certification examination.

.0119 Standards for Certification of Paralegals

(a) To qualify for certification as a paralegal, an applicant must pay any required fee, and comply with the following standards:

(1) Education or Work Experience. The applicant must have earned one of the following requirements:

(A) an associate’s, bachelor’s, or master’s degree from a qualified paralegal studies program;

(B)     a certificate from a qualified paralegal studies program and an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in any discipline from any institution of post-secondary education that is accredited by an accrediting body recognized by the United States Department of Education (an accredited US institution) or an equivalent degree from a foreign educational institution if the degree is determined to be equivalent to a degree from an accredited US institution by an organization that is a member of the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES) or the Association of International Credentials Evaluators (AICE); or

(C)     a juris doctorate degree from a law school accredited by the American Bar Association; or

(D) a high school diploma or equivalent plus five years of experience (comprising 10,000 work hours) as a legal assistant/paralegal or paralegal educator and, within the 12 months prior to the application, completed one hour of CLE on the topic of professional responsibility. Demonstration of work experience may be established by sworn affidavit(s) from the lawyer(s) or other supervisory personnel who has knowledge of the applicant’s work as a legal assistant/paralegal during the entirety of the claimed work experience.

(2) National Certification. If an applicant has obtained and thereafter maintains in active status at all times prior to application (i) the designation Certified Legal Assistant (CLA)/Certified Paralegal (CP) from the National Association of Legal Assistants; (ii) the designation PACE-Registered Paralegal (RP)/Certified Registered Paralegal (CRP) from the National Federation of Paralegal Associations; or (iii) another national paralegal credential approved by the board, the applicant is not required to satisfy the educational or work experience standard in paragraph (a)(1).

(3) Examination. The applicant must achieve a satisfactory score on a written examination designed to test the applicant’s knowledge and ability. The board shall assure that the contents and grading of the examinations are designed to produce a uniform minimum level of competence among the certified paralegals.

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