The Comity procedure in North Carolina is based on bar reciprocity. The attorney’s home jurisdiction must admit North Carolina attorneys without requiring the bar exam, but the attorney’s home jurisdiction may still require the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (“MPRE”).
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Corporate Counsel North Carolina
North Carolina statutes limit the practice of law to active members of The North Carolina State Bar and to professional corporations properly registered and qualified as law firms. N.C. Gen. Stat. §§ 84-4 and 84-5. The Authorized Practice Committee is a standing committee of the State Bar charged with investigating and acting upon allegations of unauthorized practice of law. The Rules of The North Carolina State Bar state, “[t]he purpose of the committee on the authorized practice of law is to protect the public from being unlawfully advised and represented in legal matters by unqualified persons.” 27 N.C. Admin. Code 1D § .0201..
North Carolina State Bar
Guidelines for Attorneys Licensed in other Jurisdictions
Authorized Practice Committee
- A common question presented to the North Carolina State Bar is when and to what extent an
- attorney licensed to practice in another state may engage in activities within North Carolina that
- would constitute the practice of law without engaging in the unauthorized practice of law. As
- recognized by the revisions to Rule 5.5 of the Revised Rules of Professional Conduct, not all
- activities by attorneys licensed in other states within the state of North Carolina constitute the
- unauthorized practice of law. However, Rule 5.5 does not apply to attorneys licensed in another
- jurisdiction who either relocate to North Carolina to practice law or otherwise have a regular
- presence in North Carolina. (See comment 2 to Rule 5.5).
- These guidelines are intended to help attorneys, both those licensed in North Carolina and those
- licensed elsewhere, as well as policy makers and regulators, understand the extent to which out
- of state attorneys who relocate or have a regular presence in North Carolina may engage in
- activities that fall within the scope of the practice of law without engaging in the unauthorized
- practice of law in North Carolina. These guidelines reflect the understandings, policies, and
- interpretations of the law on unauthorized practice in North Carolina by the Authorized Practice
- Committee of the North Carolina State Bar, the committee charged by the Council of the North
- Carolina State Bar with investigating complaints of unauthorized practice under N.C. Gen. Stat.
- §84-37. They are for general guidance and may not resolve all issues associated with such
For purposes of these guidelines, the terms below are defined as follows:
- “Appropriate supervision” means the necessary and adequate , training, instruction, and
oversight of the activities of an unlicensed attorney.
- “FEO” means the formal ethics opinions adopted by the North Carolina State Bar
interpreting the Revised Rules of Professional Conduct.
- “Legal activities” means any activity, task, or action that constitutes the practice of law
pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. §§ 84-2.1 through 5.
- “Legal advice or opinion” means advice or an opinion on a matter of law as it applies to a
member of the public.
- “Legal document” means any document affecting the legal rights of any person including,
but not limited to, any deed, mortgage, will, trust instrument, contract or any document
filed in any court, quasi-judicial or administrative tribunal.
- “Licensed jurisdiction(s)” means the state(s) or jurisdiction(s) in which an attorney is
licensed to practice law.
- “Member of the public” shall mean any person, firm, entity, organization, or corporation
residing in North Carolina including, but not limited to, clients, prospective clients, or other
parties in need of legal services.
- “North Carolina legal office” means any presence in North Carolina, including temporary
or virtual presences, maintained by a law firm, legal department, or other individual or
entity from which activities that constitute the practice of law are provided or offered to
members of the public in North Carolina.
- “Opposing person” means any party, agent, or attorney who has a legal position opposite
or in any way not consistent with the legal position being advocated by the unlicensed
- “Owner” means any person who owns an interest as a partner, shareholder, member, or
other similar designation in a law firm located in North Carolina.
- “Public communication” means any written or oral communication with a member of the
public including, but not limited to, any letter, letterhead, solicitation, advertisement, or
listing of attorneys or employees of a law firm.
- “Providing or giving legal advice or opinion” means giving an opinion on the application of
the facts of a specific situation to the applicable law or legal principles to reach a legal
- “Responsible North Carolina attorney” means a licensed North Carolina attorney who is
responsible for the appropriate supervision of an unlicensed attorney.
- “Revised Rule(s)” means the Revised Rules of Professional Conduct adopted by the
North Carolina State Bar.
- “RPC” means ethics opinions adopted under the former Rules of Professional Conduct.
- “Unlicensed attorney(s)” means any attorney licensed in another state or jurisdiction who:
(a) seeks to relocate or has relocated to North Carolina to practice law, (2) works for or is
employed by a law firm located in North Carolina, or (3) otherwise engages in any
activities from a North Carolina legal office that would constitute the practice of law in
North Carolina as set forth in N.C. Gen. Stat. §§ 84-2.1 to 5.
- “Written legal opinion” means any email, fax, letter, memorandum, or other writing, in any
form or media, that provides legal advice or opinion.
North Carolina Bar Reciprocity
In order to be eligible for admission by comity you must be able to substantiate that you have been engaged in the active and substantial practice of law pursuant to your license to practice law as your principal means of livelihood in a reciprocal jurisdiction for at least four out of the past six years; a minimum of 48 months. You may be required to submit supporting documentation, including time-sheets, tax returns, and/or additional references. In the event you cannot meet this requirement, you are not eligible for comity admission.
Legal employment prior to admission in the reciprocal state does not fulfill the practice requirement.
You are responsible for reading the current RULES GOVERNING ADMISSION TO THE PRACTICE OF LAW in the STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA (found on www.ncble.org), Guidelines for Attorneys Licensed in Other Jurisdictions but Seeking to Work in North Carolina (link on our home page), and RULES OF PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT (found on the State Bar’s website, www.ncbar.gov).
Read the entire application and instructions carefully before making any entries.
North Carolina Bar Admission
Your application will not be considered filed and will be returned to you if:
- You fail to submit your application on the proper forms;
- You fail to answer any questions or sub question;
- You do not send in all applicable fees in collected funds;
- You have altered the language of the application;
- You have failed to sign any document requiring your signature;
- Your signatures have not been attested by a notary public;
- You fail to submit one original application and one copy of the application;
- You have not provided two signed and notarized Authorization and Release Forms
Before you send in your application, check to see that you have fully answered all questions, leaving no blanks. Every item, or part thereof, should be completed on your application as fully and accurately as possible. N/A is not considered as an answer. Whenever the word “none” is applicable, please so indicate. Unless otherwise indicated, every question and every part of each question must be answered, even though the answer is negative. Do not refer to an answer given somewhere else in the application. Answer each question fully, even if it means repeating information given elsewhere.
Please request that all transcripts, driving records, Certificates of Good Standing, etc. be forwarded to the NC Board of Law Examiners, attention Nikki Leach.
North Carolina Rules of Professional Conduct
FULL DISCLOSURE: It is crucial that you honestly and fully answer all questions. Your responses on your application are indicators of your candor and honesty. An honest “yes” answer to a question on your application is not definitive as to the Board’s assessment of your present moral character and fitness, but a dishonest “no” answer may be definitive.
- Give complete dates, i.e. month, day and year.
- Complete all addresses, giving street name and number, suite or floor, city and state. Include postal zip code. Make sure addresses are current. If the address is a business, please include the business’ name in the address.
- Clearly identify clients, references, employers, associates and partners as such wherever their names are used. Please indicate the title as “Mr.” or “Ms.”
- In response to section 2 of the “General Character References” section of the application, give references for the state in which you are licensed, as well as any other states where you have practiced law. You may use extra pages for other states. Make certain that no two persons listed are members of the same household, and no persons are related to you. If you did not have clients, please list two additional attorneys as references.
- The Certificate of Moral Character Forms, labeled “COMITY” in the upper left corner, should be completed by the four individuals listed in your application and mailed directly to the Board’s office by those individuals. Please advise your references to send the original notarized document as photocopies cannot be accepted. It is advisable to type your name on these forms before giving them to the individuals. It is the responsibility of the applicant to send these forms to their references.
- Please note Rule 0502(9) regarding the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination. For information contact the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE). If the National Conference of Bar Examiners is unable to provide your score, please contact a jurisdiction in which you are licensed and request confirmation of the score reported to the jurisdiction by the NCBE or confirmation that you met the jurisdictions requirement at the time that you were admitted.
- THE ORIGINAL APPLICATION MUST BE SUBMITTED IN DOUBLE-SIDED FORMAT. Please copy the application to double-sided prior to signing and notarizing.
- Your application must be signed and notarized, filed in duplicate (the original and a good photocopy).Attachments do not have to be filed in duplicate.Please use the following as a checklist to help you determine what you have and what is needed. The following should be attached to your application:
- A copy of your birth certificate.
- A passport type photograph, size 2 ½” x 2 ½”, which was taken during the past six months. ONLY ONE photograph is necessary.
- Both sets of completed fingerprint cards. Do not take your own fingerprints. Type or legibly write ALL biographical information, social security number, and date of birth on the cards and sign. DO NOT FOLD CARDS. The proper cards may be obtained by e-mailing a request to [email protected].
- If applicable, one copy of Form DD -214 or report of separation showing a complete record of your military activities for each period of your active duty. If active in the military, please provide proof of your service and disciplinary record.
- A Certificate of Good Standing from each state where you are licensed, including all Circuit Courts and Federal District Courts where you have been admitted to practice. Please request that the courts use their seal. You may attach a copy of the letter requesting the Court to furnish the Board these certificates so we know they have been requested.
- The completed Certification of Court of Last Resort Form from the highest court in your reciprocal jurisdiction. The form can be found on our website under “Comity Application Forms”. You must still provide the Certificate of Good Standing from the reciprocal jurisdiction.
- One Copy of any application any application that you have filed to take another bar examination, be admitted to another bar or a letter from the jurisdiction stating that no record is available.
- One copy of any litigation to which you have been a party (bankruptcy, small claims, divorce proceedings). All litigation must include a complaint, answer, agreement and final decree/judgment.
- Two signed and notarized Authorization and Release Forms. Your application will be returned if these are not complete or received with your application.
- Official transcripts must be sent directly to the Board by all undergraduate and law schools that you attended. Be sure that all transcripts are sent to the Board’s office to the attention of Nikki Leach, Comity Analyst. You may attach a copy of the letter requesting the schools furnish the Board these transcripts so we know that they have been requested.
- Completed Form 12 if you answered “yes” to questions “20A” or “20B”. Complete one form per incident, attach appropriate documentation and return with your application. Make additional copies as needed. Do not attach the form to the application.
- If you have not enclosed required material which you must obtain from third parties (e.g., court records etc.) include a letter detailing the items and the estimated date which they will be provided.
- A copy of your driving record from all states where you have ever held a license. You may have your driving record sent directly to the Board’s office or you may obtain and send the records to the Board’s office.
- Your application $2,000 comity application fee.
- Certificate of Moral Character Forms you will need to be forwarded a form to each of your four references requesting that they return the form directly to the Board’s office to the attention of Nikki Leach, Comity Analyst. Please advise your references that they will need to send the original notarized form as photocopies cannot be accepted.
- Request that your MPRE scores be certified to North Carolina from the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE). If the National Conference of Bar Examiners is unable to provide your MPRE score, please request that a jurisdiction in which you are license confirm your score or that you met the jurisdictions requirement at the time you were admitted. If you have not taken the exam, please provide the date for which you will sit for the examination.
- The total application fee is $2,000.00. Please attach to the application, a check made payable to the NC Board of Law Examiners in this amount. For your application to be considered filed, it must be received accompanied by the Authorization and Release forms and application fee.
- The Board’s comity rule provides that your application cannot be considered by a panel of the Board until it has been on file for at least six months from the date your application is considered filed. After that time, provided your application is complete, you will be scheduled for hearing and given notice when to appear before a Panel of the Board that will act on your application.
Guidelines For Out Of State Attorneys Seeking To Practice In North Carolina
Information & Applications » Comity Application » Information for Comity Application
Everyone must note that, In order to be eligible for admission by comity you must be able to substantiate that you have been engaged in the active and substantial practice of law pursuant to your license to practice law as your principal means of livelihood in a reciprocal jurisdiction for at least four out of the past six years; a minimum of 48 months. You may be required to submit supporting documentation, including time-sheets, tax returns, and/or additional references. In the event you cannot meet this requirement, you are not eligible for comity admission.