Corporate Counsel

Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia Part 1A, Rule 1A:5 governing Virginia Corporate Counsel & Corporate Counsel Registrants

For information about the application and registration process under Part II, please contact the VSB Regulatory Compliance Department at (804) 775-0530 or by email

View current Corporate Counsel Registrant annual dues statement (pdf) 

Summary of Virginia's Corporate Counsel Rule

The Supreme Court of Virginia’s Rule 1A:5 became effective September 1, 2003. 

Under Part I of the rule, a lawyer in good standing in another state may obtain a corporate counsel certificate from the Virginia Board of Bar Examiners under which his or her practice is limited to the representation of one Virginia employer. A corporate counsel certificate under Part I authorizes the in-house counsel to represent his or her employer in state courts without having to meet the pro hac vice requirements applicable to foreign attorneys under Rule 1A:4

Once licensed, lawyers with a certificate under Part I must meet all the requirements for active status in the Virginia State Bar, including the twelve-hour mandatory MCLE requirement which active lawyers must fulfill annually. 

Under Part II, a foreign attorney in good standing in another state who intends to work in Virginia as in-house counsel may "opt out" of the requirements for active status in the bar. In-house counsel choosing to "opt out" must nevertheless register with the Virginia State Bar as in-house counsel and pay a registration fee and annual dues.

Unlike their counterparts licensed under Part I, registrants under Part II may not represent their employer in court unless they associate a Virginia admitted attorney and move for admission pro hac vice. For lawyers registered under Part II, their time in service as in-house counsel for a Virginia employer shall not be considered by the Board of Bar Examiners should such counsel seek admission to the Virginia bar without examination. 

Any in-house lawyer who receives a certificate under Part I or registers under Part II becomes subject to the Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct and the jurisdiction of the Virginia State Bar's disciplinary system, if a disciplinary complaint is made against them while employed as in-house counsel in Virginia.

Read frequently asked questions about corporate counsel status.

Read the full rule online.

Updated: Dec 30, 2019