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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

  • Proposed amendments to the rule on collection of membership fees will delay imposition of the $30 late fee until September 1, 2020, for the 2020 calendar year only.  

Amendments Approved by the Supreme Court

At a conference on February 26, 2020, the North Carolina Supreme Court approved the following amendments to the rules of the North Carolina State Bar:

Amendment to the Rules Governing the Administrative Committee

27 N.C.A.C. 1D, Section .0900, Procedures for the Administrative Committee

The amendment allows 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.

Amendment to The Plan of Legal Specialization

27 N.C.A.C. 1D, Section .1700, The Plan of Legal Specialization

The amendment clarifies the prohibition on waiving the minimum years of practice requirement for specialty certification.

Amendment to Immigration Law Specialty Standards

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

The amendment permits the Board of Legal Specialization to offer the immigration law specialty exam either annually or every other year.

Amendments to The Plan for Certification of Paralegals

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

The 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.

AMENDMENTS PENDING SUPREME COURT APPROVAL 

At its meeting, April 17, 2020, the 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 2020 edition of the Journal or visit the State Bar website.)

Proposed Amendments to the Rules Governing the Administrative Committee

27 N.C.A.C. 1D, Section .0900, Procedures for the Administrative Committee

The proposed amendments replace the current $125 fee for reinstatement from inactive status and administrative suspension with a reinstatement fee “in an amount to be determined by the council.”

Proposed Amendments to Regulations for Organizations Practicing Law

N.C.A.C. 1E, Section .0100, Regulations for Professional Corporations and Professional Limited Liability Companies Practicing Law; Section .0200, Registration of Interstate and International Law Firms

The proposed amendments replace specified filing and registration fees with fees “in an amount to be determined by the council.”

Proposed Amendments 

At its meeting on January 24, 2020, the council voted to publish proposed amendments to the rules for prepaid legal service plans, 27 N.C.A.C. 1E, Section .0300, Rules Concerning Prepaid Legal Services Plans. The proposed comprehensive amendments to the rules include the following: incorporating the registration, renewal, and amendment forms in the rules; eliminating the requirement that the State Bar review plan documents to determine whether representations made in the registration, renewal, and amendment forms are true; and specifying that registration and renewal fees shall be in amounts to be determined by the State Bar Council. During the publication period following the January meeting, comment on the proposed amendments to the rules on prepaid plans was received. At its meeting on April 17, 2020, the council deferred action on the proposed amendments until the July quarterly meeting of the council to allow time to study and respond to the comments.

Also at its April 17, 2020, meeting, the council voted to publish for comment the following proposed rule amendments:

Proposed Amendments to the Rules on Membership Fees

27 N.C.A.C. 1A, Section .0200, Membership—Annual Membership Fee

The proposed rule amendments make the language of Rule .0203 consistent with that of the authorizing statute, N.C. Gen. Stat. §84-34, and delay imposition of the $30 late fee for the delinquent payment of membership fees until September 1, 2020, for the 2020 calendar year only.

.0203 Annual Membership Fees; When Due

(a) Amount and Due Date

The annual membership fee shall be in the amount determined by the council as provided by law and shall be due and payable to the secretary of the North Carolina State Bar on January 1 of each year. The annual membership fee shall be and the same shall become delinquent if not paid by the last day of June before July 1 of each year. For calendar year 2020 only, the annual membership fee shall be delinquent if not paid by August 31, 2020.

(b) Late Fee

Any attorney who fails to pay the entire annual membership fee in the amount determined by the council as provided by law and the annual Client Security Fund assessment approved by the North Carolina Supreme Court by the last day of June before July 1 of each year shall also pay a late fee of $30. For calendar year 2020 only, any attorney who fails to pay the entire annual membership fee in the amount determined by the council as provided by law and the annual Client Security Fund assessment approved by the North Carolina Supreme Court by August 31, 2020, shall also pay a late fee of $30.

(c) Waiver of All or Part of Dues

No part of the annual membership fee or Client Security Fund assessment shall be prorated or apportioned to fractional parts of the year, and no part of the membership fee or Client Security Fund assessment shall be waived or rebated for any reason with the following exceptions:

(1) …

Proposed Amendments to the Rules on Discipline and Disability

27 N.C.A.C. 1B, Section .0100, Discipline and Disability Rules

The proposed amendments eliminate the requirement that letters of warning, admonitions, reprimands, and censures issued by the Grievance Committee be served by certified mail or personal service when valid service on the respondent was previously accomplished by certified mail, personal service, publication, or acceptance of service. The proposed amendments also modernize language in the existing rule.

.0113 Proceedings before the Grievance Committee

(a) ...

(j) Letters of Warning

(3)

(A) If valid service upon the respondent has previously been accomplished by certified mail, personal service, publication, or acceptance of service by the respondent or the respondent’s counsel, a copy of the letter of warning may be served upon the respondent by mailing a copy of the letter of warning to the respondent’s last known address on file with the State Bar. Service shall be deemed complete upon deposit of the letter of warning in a postpaid, properly addressed wrapper in a post office or official depository under the exclusive care and custody of the United States Postal Service.

(B) If valid service upon the respondent has not previously been accomplished by certified mail, personal service, publication, or acceptance of service by the respondent or the respondent’s counsel, a copy of the letter of warning shall be served upon the respondent by certified mail or personal service. If diligent efforts to serve the respondent by certified mail and by personal service are unsuccessful, the letter of warning shall be deemed served by mailing a copy of the letter of warning to the respondent’s last known address on file with the State Bar. Service shall be deemed complete upon deposit of the letter of warning in a postpaid, properly addressed wrapper in a post office or official depository under the exclusive care and custody of the United States Postal Service. A copy of the letter of warning will be served upon the respondent in person or by certified mail. A respondent who cannot, with due diligence, be served by certified mail or personal service shall be deemed served by the mailing of a copy of the letter of warning to the respondent’s last known address on file with the NC State Bar. Service shall be deemed complete upon deposit of the letter of warning in a postpaid, properly addressed wrapper in a post office or official depository under the exclusive care and custody of the United States Postal Service. Within 15 days after service, the respondent may refuse the letter of warning and request a hearing before the commission to determine whether the respondent violated a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct has occurred. Such refusal and request will be in writing, addressed to the Grievance Committee, and served on the secretary by certified mail, return receipt requested. The refusal will state that the letter of warning is refused. If the respondent does not serve a refusal and request are not served within 15 days after service upon the respondent of the letter of warning, the letter of warning will be deemed accepted by the respondent. An extension of time may be granted by the chairperson of the Grievance Committee for good cause shown.

(4) …

(l) Procedures for Admonitions, and Reprimands, and Censures

(2)

(A) If valid service upon the respondent has previously been accomplished by certified mail, personal service, publication, or acceptance of service by the respondent or the respondent’s counsel, a copy of the admonition, reprimand, or censure may be served upon the respondent by mailing a copy of the admonition, reprimand, or censure to the respondent’s last known address on file with the State Bar. Service shall be deemed complete upon deposit of the admonition, reprimand, or censure in a postpaid, properly addressed wrapper in a post office or official depository under the exclusive care and custody of the United States Postal Service.

(B) If valid service upon the respondent has not previously been accomplished by certified mail, personal service, publication, or acceptance of service by the respondent or the respondent’s counsel, A a copy of the admonition, reprimand, or censure shall will be served upon the respondent in person or by certified mail or personal service. If diligent efforts to serve the respondent by certified mail and by personal service are unsuccessful, the respondent shall be served A respondent who cannot, with due diligence, be served by certified mail or personal service shall be deemed served by the mailing of a copy of the admonition, reprimand, or censure to the respondent’s last known address on file with the NC State Bar. Service shall be deemed complete upon deposit of the admonition, reprimand, or censure in a postpaid, properly addressed wrapper in a post office or official depository under the exclusive care and custody of the United States Postal Service.

(3) …

Proposed Amendments to the Rules on Reinstatement from Inactive Status and Administrative Suspension

27 N.C.A.C. 1D, Section .0900, Procedures for Administrative Committee

The proposed amendments eliminate the six-hour cap on online CLE when fulfilling the requirements for reinstatement from inactive status and from administrative suspension. This is consistent with the elimination of the cap on online CLE that went into effect on January 1, 2020.

.0902 Reinstatement From Inactive Status

(a) Eligibility to Apply for Reinstatement

(c) Requirements for Reinstatement

(1) Completion of Petition.

(4) Additional CLE Requirements

If more than 1 year has elapsed between the date of the entry of the order transferring the member to inactive status and the date that the petition is filed, the member must complete 12 hours of approved CLE for each year that the member was inactive up to a maximum of 7 years. The CLE hours must be completed within 2 years prior to filing the petition. For each 12-hour increment, 6 hours may be taken online and 2 hours must be earned by attending courses in the areas of professional responsibility and/or professionalism. If during the period of inactivity the member complied with mandatory CLE requirements of another state where the member is licensed, those CLE credit hours may be applied to the requirements under this provision without regard to whether they were taken during the 2 years prior to filing the petition.

.0904 Reinstatement From Suspension

(a) Compliance Within 30 Days of Service of Suspension Order.

(d) Requirements for Reinstatement

(1) Completion of Petition

(3) Additional CLE Requirements

If more than 1 year has elapsed between the effective date of the suspension order and the date upon which the reinstatement petition is filed, the member must complete 12 hours of approved CLE for each year that the member was suspended up to a maximum of 7 years. The CLE must be completed within 2 years prior to filing the petition. For each 12-hour increment, 6 hours may be taken online and 2 hours must be earned by attending courses in the areas of professional responsibility and/or professionalism. If during the period of suspension the member complied with mandatory CLE requirements of another state where the member is licensed, those CLE credit hours may be applied to the requirements under this provision without regard to whether they were taken during the 2 years prior to filing the petition.

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 the field of immigration law based on 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:

...

(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 fivefour 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/or having primary responsibility of preparation of the case for presentation 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 andfamily-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, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) (including I-9 reviews in anticipation of ICE audits), or the U.S. Department of State in employment-related immigration matters and filingsor 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 certiorariin 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, 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 Rules Governing Admission to the Practice of Law

Section .0500, Requirements for Applicants; Section .0600, Moral Character  and General Fitness; Section .1200, Board Hearings

The North Carolina Board of Law Examiners has proposed amendments to its admission rules that will streamline the processing of comity, military-spouse comity, and transfer applications that do not present character and fitness issues.

.0502 Requirements for Comity Applicants

The Board in its discretion shall determine whether an attorney duly licensed to practice law in any state, or territory of the United States, or the District of Columbia, may be licensed to practice law in the State of North Carolina without written examination, other than the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination; provided that such attorney’s jurisdiction of licensure qualifies as a jurisdiction in comity with North Carolina, in that the conditions required by such state, or territory of the United States or the District of Columbia, for North Carolina attorneys to be licensed to practice law in that jurisdiction without written examination are not considered by the Board to be unduly or materially greater than the conditions required by the State of North Carolina for licensure to practice law without written examination in this State. A list of “approved jurisdictions”, as determined by the Board pursuant to this rule, shall be available upon request.

Any attorney at law duly admitted to practice in another state, or territory of the United States, or the District of Columbia, upon written application may, in the discretion of the Board, be licensed to practice law in the State of North Carolina without written examination provided each such applicant shall:

(1) File with the Executive Director, upon such forms as may be supplied by the Board, a typed application in duplicate which will be considered by the Board after at least six (6) months from the date of filing. Such application shall require:

(a) That an applicant supply full and complete information in regard to his background, including family, past residences, education, military, employment, credit status, whether he has been a party to any disciplinary or legal proceedings, whether currently mentally or emotionally impaired, references, and the nature of the applicant’s practice of law.

(b) That the applicant furnishes the following documentation:

.0604 Bar Candidate Committee

Every General Aapplicant and UBE Transfer Applicant not licensed in another jurisdiction shall appear before a bar candidate committee, appointed by the Board Chair, in the judicial district in which the applicant resides, or in such other judicial districts as the Board in its sole discretion may designate to the applicant, to be examined about any matter pertaining to the applicant’s moral character and general fitness to practice law. An applicant who has appeared before a hearing Panel may, in the Board’s discretion, be excused from making a subsequent appearance before a bar candidate committee. The Board Chair may delegate to the Executive Director the authority to exercise such discretion. The applicant shall give such information as may be required on such forms provided by the Board. A bar candidate committee may require the applicant to make more than one appearance before the committee and to furnish to the committee such information and documents as it may reasonably require pertaining to the moral character and general fitness of the applicant to be licensed to practice law in North Carolina. Each applicant will be advised when to appear before the bar candidate committee. There can be no changes once the initial assignment is made.

.1201 Nature of Hearings

(1) Any All general applicants may be required to appear before the Board or a hearing Panel at a hearing to answer inquiry about any matter under these rules. In the event a hearing for an applicant for admission by examination is not held before the written examination, the applicant shall be permitted to take the written examination.

(2) Each comity, military spouse comity, or transfer applicant shall appear before the Board or Panel to satisfy the Board that he or she has met all the requirements of Rule .0502, Rule .0503 or Rule.0504.

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