Professional Guidelines

An agency of the Supreme Court of Virginia

The Virginia State Bar

Professional Guidelines

Reciprocity: Admission on Motion

Additional Info

Update on MCLE Course for Reciprocity Applicants

The MCLE Board has approved instruction courses under Rule 1A:1. See Reciprocity Course on Virginia CLE’s website.

Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia Part 1A, Rule 1A:1.

Rule 1A:1.  Admission to Practice in This Commonwealth Without Examination

 (a) Reciprocity – Any person who has been admitted to practice law before the court of last resort of any state or territory of the United States or of the District of Columbia may file an application to be admitted to practice law in this Commonwealth without examination, if counsel licensed to practice law in this Commonwealth may be admitted in that jurisdiction without examination.

(b) Application – An applicant for admission to practice law without examination in this Commonwealth shall:

(1) File with the Secretary of the Virginia Board of Bar Examiners (the Board) an application under oath on a form furnished by the Board;

(2) Furnish a certificate, signed by the presiding judge of the court of last resort or other proper official for every jurisdiction in which the applicant is or has been licensed to practice law, stating:

i. that the applicant is in good standing, and if not the reasons why;

ii. the length of time the applicant has been or was licensed in that jurisdiction; and

iii. any restriction or condition placed on the applicant’s license to practice law in that jurisdiction.

(3) Certify in writing under oath that the applicant has completed 12 hours of instruction approved by the Virginia Continuing Legal Education Board on Virginia substantive and/or procedural law within the preceding six-month period;

(4) Certify in writing under oath that the applicant has read and is familiar with the Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct;

(5) Complete the Applicant’s Character and Fitness Questionnaire and furnish a report of the National Conference of Bar Examiners, or such other report as the Board may require, concerning the applicant’s past practice and record, and pay the fee for such report; and

(6) Pay the filing fee as fixed from time to time by the Board.

(c) Board Review – Upon receipt of a completed application, the Board will determine in accordance with the regulations issued by the Supreme Court of Virginia whether the applicant has established by satisfactory evidence that he or she:

  1. Is a proper person to practice law; and
  2. Pursuant to Code § 54.1-3931, has been admitted to practice law before the court of last resort of any state or territory of the United States or of the District of Columbia for at least five years; and
  3. Has practiced law for at least three of the immediately preceding five years and has made such progress in the practice of law that it would be unreasonable to require the applicant to take an examination. The Board may require the applicant to appear personally before the Board, the Character and Fitness Committee (the Committee) of the Board, or a member of either the Board or the Committee, and furnish any such additional information as may be required. If the applicant's license to practice law in any other jurisdiction is subject to any restriction or condition, the Board shall determine whether the nature of such restriction or condition is inconsistent with the practice of law and, if so, shall deny the application. If the Board determines that the applicant is qualified to be admitted to the practice of law in this Commonwealth without examination, the Board shall approve the application and shall notify the applicant of its decision.

(d) Admission – Upon notification by the Board that the applicant’s application has been approved, the applicant may be issued a certificate, pursuant to Code § 54.1-3931, to practice law in this Commonwealth if:

  1. A member of the Virginia State Bar who is qualified to practice before the Supreme Court moves the applicant’s admission to practice law in this Commonwealth in open court;
  2. The motion is granted; and
  3. The applicant takes and subscribes to the oath required of attorneys at law. 

(e)  Active Membership – Upon payment of applicable dues and completion of other membership obligations set forth in Part 6, Section IV of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia, the applicant shall become an active member of the Virginia State Bar.  An attorney admitted pursuant to this Rule shall be deemed subject to the same membership obligations as other active members of the Virginia State Bar, and all legal services provided in Virginia provided by an attorney admitted pursuant to this Rule shall be deemed the practice of law and shall subject the attorney to all rules governing the practice of law in Virginia, including the Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct.  The rules set forth in Part 6, Section IV, governing how members may change their status to associate, judicial, disabled, retired or emeritus shall apply to attorneys admitted pursuant to this Rule.

(f)  An attorney admitted to practice law in this Commonwealth without examination under prior versions of this Rule is no longer subject to the requirement that he or she intends to practice law full time as a member of the Virginia State Bar.

 

Regulations Governing Applications for Admission to Virginia Bar Pursuant to Rule of the Supreme Court of Virginia 1A:1, effective December 1, 2018.

INTRODUCTION

Each person who has met the educational requirements and has proved that he or she satisfies the character and fitness requirements as established by the law of Virginia may seek admission to the Virginia Bar by taking the Virginia Bar Examination. A primary purpose of the Virginia Bar Examination is to determine whether an applicant is able to demonstrate his or her current minimum competency to engage in the practice of law in Virginia.

In addition to admission to the Bar by examination, the Supreme Court of Virginia, in its discretion under Code §54.1-3931, has determined that a person who has been admitted to practice law before the court of last resort of a state or territory of the United States or of the District of Columbia for a minimum of five years, who has been admitted to the bar of a Reciprocal Jurisdiction, hereinafter defined, and who has been engaged in the lawful practice of law on a full-time basis for at least three of the immediately preceding five years, may seek to demonstrate that he or she has made such progress in the practice of law that it would be unreasonable to require the person to take an examination to demonstrate current minimum competency. In other words, an applicant's experience in the practice of law may, at the discretion of the Court, be accepted as adequate evidence of current minimum competency in lieu of the bar examination.  For purposes of admission without examination, “full-time” shall mean practicing law for a minimum of 32 hours per week.

THRESHOLD REQUIREMENTS

1. Reciprocity. The Board shall consider an application for admission without examination only from a person who has been admitted to practice before the court of last resort of a jurisdiction (i.e., a state or territory of the United States, or the District of Columbia) that permits lawyers licensed in Virginia to be admitted to practice without examination in such jurisdiction (a "Reciprocal Jurisdiction''). The purpose of the reciprocity requirement is to encourage other jurisdictions to grant the same privilege to Virginia lawyers.

2. Minimum Period of Bar Admission. Before being eligible to apply for admission without examination, the applicant must have been admitted to practice law before the court of last resort of a state or territory of the United States, or of the District of Columbia, for at least five (5) years.

3. Requirement of Minimum Current Practice. An applicant may apply for admission without examination only if the applicant has been engaged in the full-time practice of law for at least three (3) of the last five (5) years immediately preceding his or her application for admission to the Virginia Bar. Except as provided in Threshold Requirement 4 below, the applicant must have been licensed to engage in the practice of law in the jurisdiction where such practice occurred. Practice from an office located in a foreign country shall not be accepted as qualifying practice. Persons holding a Virginia Corporate Counsel Certificate under Part I of Rule 1A:5 may receive credit as provided in such Rule.

4. Practice of law. For purposes of admission without examination, “practice of law” ordinarily shall mean (i) private practice as a sole practitioner or for a law firm, legal services office, legal clinic, or similar entity; (ii) practice as an attorney for a corporation, limited liability company, partnership, trust, individual or other entity, provided such practice involved the primary duties of furnishing legal counsel, drafting legal documents and pleadings, interpreting and giving advice regarding the law, and preparing, trying or presenting cases before courts or administrative agencies; (iii) practice as an attorney for the federal or a state or local government with the same primary duties as described above regarding attorneys for a corporation; (iv) employment as a judge for the federal or a state government; (v) service as a judicial law clerk for a state or federal court; or (vi) service on active duty in a branch of the armed forces of the United States as a judge advocate or law specialist, as those terms are defined in the Uniform Code of Military Justice, 10 U.S.C. § 801, as amended, provided that such position requires a valid license to practice law and involves the same primary duties as described above regarding attorneys for a corporation. With the exception of the positions described in (iv) and (v) above, qualifying law practice must have involved an attorney-client relationship and, with the exception of the positions described in (iv), (v) and (vi) above, must have occurred subsequent to having been issued a license to engage in the practice of law in the jurisdiction where the law practice was conducted, unless the applicant establishes, by satisfactory evidence, that such practice is permitted by statute, rule, court order, or by written confirmation from the admitting or disciplinary authority of the jurisdiction where the practice occurred.  The applicant must demonstrate that he or she meets the practice of law requirement to the satisfaction of the Board.  The Board may require the applicant to produce substantiating evidence which may include, but is not limited to, a detailed description of legal services provided, letters from clients and/or opposing counsel, certification of a judge, samples of work product, and detailed time records.  In addition, the Board may require the applicant to appear personally before the Board and furnish such additional information as may be required.  For purposes of admission without examination, “practice of law” ordinarily shall not mean document review work.

 

Adopted by the Supreme Court of Virginia November 1, 2013. Effective February 1, 2014.

Amended by the Supreme Court of Virginia October 31, 2014, to remove by examination in paragraph (a) Reciprocity. Effective immediately.

Amended by the Supreme Court of Virginia September 14, 2018. Effective December 1, 2018.

 

Rule 1A:3. Revocation of Certificates Issued to Attorneys Admitted Pursuant to Rule 1A:2.
Following receipt of evidence that a person who was admitted to practice pursuant to Rule 1A:2 prior to July 1, 2000, has been disbarred pursuant to Part Six of the Rules, the Supreme Court will revoke the certificate issued to that person.
 

Updated: November 30, 2018