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Officials plan for new reciprocity rules

Supreme Court of Virginia

The Supreme Court of Virginia

With new rules coming to govern out-of-state lawyers seeking to practice in Virginia without taking the bar exam, the state Supreme Court and bar leaders are fine tuning the details.

The Supreme Court of Virginia has issued a new set of regulations to implement its new Rule 1A:1 affecting so-called “waived-in” lawyers.

Meanwhile the Mandatory Continuing Legal Education Board is seeking comment on the courses foreign lawyers should have to take to be considered for bar membership without examination.

The court’s amended reciprocity rule removes the current requirement that waived-in lawyers maintain a full-time Virginia practice in an established office. It also shortens the requirement for prior practice from five to three years.

The amended reciprocity rule takes effect Feb. 1

The rule requires that applicants certify they have recently completed 12 hours of CLE “on Virginia substantive and/or procedural law.”

The MCLE board proposes a single 12-hour reciprocity course which may be offered live or through distance learning methods.

The course would address legal principles and concepts unique to Virginia in the following areas: agency; business organizations; civil and criminal procedure (including appellate practice); conflict of laws; contracts; creditor’s rights; criminal law; domestic relations; equity; evidence; local government law; real and personal property; sales; torts; trusts, wills and estate administration; the Uniform Commercial Code; Virginia constitutional law; and Virginia taxation.

Other laws, such as federal law, may be addressed only to the extent of addressing how such laws interplay with Virginia law and are relevant to Virginia practice, the board said.

The board proposes a specific form for sponsors to use when seeking approval to present a Rule 1A:1 Reciprocity Course.

Comments on proposed MCLE Opinion 20 should be sent to the board by Jan. 28. The email address is Cartwright@vsb.org. The postal address is:

707 East Main Street
Suite 1500
Richmond, VA 23219

The Supreme Court posted the new set of regulations for waived-in lawyers on Dec. 13.

The regulations maintain a requirement that applicants must not have failed more than two bar examinations of any state and must not have failed any bar examinations within the preceding five years.

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