The State Bar seeks public comment on a New Provisional Licensure Rule, Rule of Court XX
Deadline: September 15, 2020
Comments should be submitted using the online Public Comment Form. The online form allows you to input your comments directly and can also be used to upload your comment letter and/or other attachments.
In response to the challenges posed by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the State Bar seeks public comment on a new rule to allow eligible 2020 law school graduates to practice law as “provisionally licensed lawyers” through June 2022 so that they may begin working without having taken or passed the California Bar Examination. This proposal implements the direction of the Supreme Court, and is based in part on the State Bar of California’s multijurisdictional practice program and on provisional licensure programs adopted by other states.
On July 16, 2020, the California Supreme Court directed the State Bar of California “to implement, as soon as possible, a temporary supervised provisional licensure program – a limited license to practice specified areas of law under the supervision of a licensed attorney.” The State Bar’s Board of Trustees appointed Board Member Hailyn Chen to carry out the Court’s directive. Ms. Chen created the Provisional Licensure Working Group, comprised of a variety of stakeholders, including representatives from private practice, government, and the public sector, attorneys responsible for hiring and recruitment, law school representatives, legislative counsel, members of the Committee of Bar Examiners, and others, to consider the various components of the new supervised provisional licensure program. At its meetings on August 7 and 18, 2020, the Provisional Licensure Working Group received and considered public comment, as well as listened to presentations from law students about the impact of COVID-19 on their post-graduation opportunities and their hopes for the new program. The Provisional Licensure Working Group adopted recommendations that are reflected in proposed new Rule of Court XX.
The proposed new rule establishes the State Bar’s first provisional licensure program. The program allows eligible 2020 law school graduates to practice law as provisionally licensed lawyers under the supervision of fully-licensed lawyers who meet the requirements of the rule and who agree to assume professional responsibility over the work of the provisionally licensed lawyers. As set forth in the proposed new rule, provisionally licensed lawyers will be able to engage in all of the same activities that a fully licensed lawyer is permitted to engage in, under their supervising lawyer’s direct supervision and subject to certain restrictions. Both the provisionally licensed lawyer and their supervising lawyer are expected to abide by all applicable State Bar rules and guidelines and are bound by the disciplinary authority of the California Supreme Court and the State Bar.
The California Supreme Court directed the State Bar of California to “afford a public comment period of at least 15 days for any proposed supervised provisional licensure program rules.”
Creation and administration of the supervised provisional licensure program will have automation and personnel costs. The full extent of the fiscal and personnel impact cannot be determined at this time as this is a new program and it is not yet known how many applications the State Bar will receive.
Provisional Licensure Working Group
September 15, 2020