Applications for Provisional Licensure are now available in the Applicant Portal.
On October 22, 2020, the California Supreme Court issued an administrative order approving New Rule 9.49, which implements a provisional licensure program for 2020 law school graduates, with an effective date of November 17, 2020. Applications are now available in the Applicant Portal.
As currently structured, the program will allow 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. The program will terminate June 1, 2022 unless extended by the Court.
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 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.
In response to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, in July 2020, the California Supreme Court directed the State Bar "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 convened the Provisional Licensure Working Group, led by Trustee Hailyn Chen, which met in August and September to craft the draft rule. The draft rule was circulated for public comment and approved by the Board of Trustees before being submitted to the California Supreme Court.
The working group will meet again in November to consider expanding the program. Recommendations to expand the program adopted by the working group will be circulated for at least a 15-day public comment period. After consideration by the working group of public comments it receives, a final recommendation will be considered by the State Bar Board of Trustees. Any rule change recommended by the Board will need to be approved by the Supreme Court.