News and Information
December 30, 2019

Changes Coming to Corporate Counsel Registration

On November 1, 2019, the Supreme Court of Virginia amended Rule 1A:5 regarding Virginia Corporate Counsel and Corporate Counsel Registrants, effective January 1, 2020. These rule changes do not apply to Corporate Counsel Registrants under Part Two and require no action by lawyers currently certificated under Part One.

Before January 1, 2020, under Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia Part 1A, Rule 1A:5, foreign attorneys wishing to serve as corporate counsel to a Virginia employer could register with the Virginia State Bar. This was true for foreign attorneys under Part I or II of the rule.

The amendments effective January 1 require non-Virginia lawyers who wish to represent their employers in court (under Part I) to apply to the Virginia Board of Bar Examiners (VBBE) on forms to be provided by the VBBE. More specific details can be found at the board’s website, but, in summary, an applicant must: 

  • possess a J.D. from an ABA-approved law school,
  • be admitted by examination,
  • be licensed to practice law in the court of last resort in another state or territory of the United States,
  • be in good standing in all other jurisdictions in which the applicant has been admitted, and not currently subject to lawyer discipline or pending disciplinary matter in any other jurisdiction, and
  • undergo a character and fitness evaluation and cover the costs of the investigation and the fee for the application. 

The VBBE will function as the certifying authority for Virginia Corporate Counsel, and interested lawyers should refer to its website to begin the process. A lawyer issued a Corporate Counsel Certificate is considered an active lawyer of the Virginia State Bar and is required to pay to the Virginia State Bar the annual dues required of regularly admitted active lawyers. 

Corporate Counsel Registrant under Part II of the rule will continue to register with the Virginia State Bar. No substantive changes were made to Part II of the rule.

View the court's order about this change.  (pdf)

And view the court’s version of the Rule 1A:5 that shows the changes tracked. (pdf)

Updated: Jan 08, 2020