To be eligible to practice law in New Jersey as an in-house counsel, a lawyer must comply with the provisions of this Rule. A limited license issued by the Supreme Court pursuant to this Rule shall authorize the lawyer to practice solely for the designated employer in New Jersey. Except as specifically limited herein, the rules, rights and privileges governing the practice of law in this State shall be applicable to a lawyer admitted under this Rule.
(a) In-House Counsel Defined. In-House Counsel is a lawyer who is employed in New Jersey for a corporation, a partnership, association, or other legal entity (taken together with its respective parents, subsidiaries, and affiliates) authorized to transact business in this State that is not itself engaged in the practice of law or the rendering of legal services outside such organization, whether for a fee or otherwise, and does not charge or collect a fee for the representation or advice other than to entities comprising such organization.
(b) Requirements. All applications under this Rule are to be submitted to the Secretary to the Board of Bar Examiners. An in-house counsel who is admitted to practice law before the highest court of any other state, territory of the United States, Puerto Rico, or the District of Columbia (hereinafter a United States jurisdiction) may receive a limited license to practice law in this State under the following conditions:
(i) The applicant certifies that he or she is a member in good standing of the bar of the highest court of each United States jurisdiction in which the applicant is licensed to practice law and provides a certificate of good standing from each United States jurisdiction in which the applicant is admitted;
(ii) The applicant certifies that: (a) no disciplinary proceedings are pending against the applicant and that no discipline has previously been imposed on the applicant in any jurisdiction; or (b) if discipline has been previously imposed, the certification shall state the date, jurisdiction, nature of the violation, and the sanction imposed. If proceedings are pending, the certification shall specify the jurisdiction, the charges, and the likely time of their disposition. A lawyer admitted under this Rule shall have the continuing obligation during the period of such admission promptly to inform the Director of the Office of Attorney Ethics pursuant to Rule 1:20-14(a) of a disposition made of disciplinary proceedings. Any questions concerning the character or fitness of a lawyer may be referred to the Supreme Court Committee on Character for review and recommendation (Rule 1:25). The submission of an application for an In-House Limited License shall be a consent to such investigation as the Committee on Character deems appropriate;
(iii) Except as provided in (g), the applicant certifies that he or she performs legal services in this State solely for the identified employer, or that he or she performs legal services in this State solely for the identified employer and its constituents (employees, directors, officers, members, partners, shareholders) in respect or the same proceeding of claim as the employer, provided that the performance of such services is consistent with RPC 1.13 and RPC 1.7; and
(iv) The employer certifies through an officer, director or general counsel that the applicant is employed as a lawyer for said employer, that the applicant is of good moral character, and that the nature of the employment conforms to the requirements of this Rule.
(c) Compliance. A lawyer admitted pursuant to this Rule shall comply with the annual assessments pursuant to R. 1:20-1(b) (Disciplinary Oversight Committee), R. 1:28-2 (New Jersey Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection), and R.1:28B-1(e) (Lawyers Assistance Program).
(d) Limitation. In-house counsel shall not appear as Attorney of Record for his or her employer, its parent, subsidiary, affiliated entities or any of their constituents in any case or matter pending before the courts of this State, except pursuant to R. 1:21-1(c) and R. 1:21-2.
(e) Duration. The limited license to practice law in this State shall expire if such lawyer is admitted to the Bar of this State under any other rule of this Court, or if such lawyer ceases to be an employee for the employer or its parent, subsidiary, or affiliated entities, listed on such lawyer’s application, whichever shall first occur; provided, however, that if such lawyer, within ninety days of ceasing to be an employee for the employer or its parent, subsidiary, or affiliated entities listed on such lawyer’s application, becomes employed by another employer for which such lawyer shall perform legal services as in-house counsel, such lawyer may maintain his or her admission under this Rule by promptly filing with the Secretary to the Board of Bar Examiners a certification to such effect, stating the date on which his or her prior employment ceased and his/her new employment commenced, identifying his or her new employer and reaffirming that he or she shall not provide legal services, in this State, to any individual or entity other than as described in paragraphs (b)(iii) or (g). The lawyer shall also file a certification of the new employer as described in paragraph (b)(iv). In the event that the employment of a lawyer admitted under this Rule shall cease with no subsequent employment by a successor employer within ninety days, such lawyer shall promptly file with the Secretary to the Board of Bar Examiners a statement to such effect, stating the date that such employment ceased.
(f) Fee. Each applicant for a limited license shall pay the required fees as established by the Board of Bar Examiners and approved by the Supreme Court.
(g) Pro Bono. A lawyer with a limited license to practice pursuant to this rule is exempt from court-appointed pro bono service under Madden v. Delran, 126 N.J. 591 (1992). Such lawyer may nevertheless serve as a volunteer pro bono attorney with an entity certified under R. 1:21-11(b)(1) or (3), provided that such pro bono service shall cease upon expiration of the limited license to practice in this State as described in (e). However, when a lawyer with a limited license to practice ceases to be an employee for the employer or its parent, subsidiary, or affiliated entities listed on such lawyer’s application, the lawyer may continue any ongoing pro bono representation for a maximum period of one year.
(h) Not Admitted. Lawyers with a limited license to practice pursuant to this rule are not, and should not represent themselves to be, members of the bar of this State.
Note: New R. 1:27-2 adopted November 17, 2003 to be effective January 1, 2004; paragraph (e) amended November 29, 2006 to be effective immediately; first paragraph, subparagraph (b)(iii), and paragraphs (d) and (e) amended July 9, 2008 to be effective September 1, 2008; subparagraph (b)(iii) amended, paragraph (e) amended, and new paragraphs (g) and (h) adopted July 22, 2014 to be effective January 1, 2015.Back