In this week that NY law grads were originally scheduled to be taking the bar exam, the New York State Court of Appeals (the highest court in the state) has announced a revision of its rules to temporarily authorize qualifying graduates of ABA-accredited law schools to practice law in New York under supervision pending their admission to the bar. Supervising attorneys must be admitted to practice in New York for at least three years and must be in good standing.
To be eligible, an applicant must be qualified to take the New York bar exam, employed to practice law in New York, and not have failed a bar exam in the United States previously, in addition to having graduated from an ABA-accredited law school.
Those wishing to be granted this authorization must submit an application to the Appellate Division in the Department in which they anticipate being admitted to the bar. The application must include an affirmation in support from a representative of the employer who is admitted to practice law in New York, as well as the application form signed by the applicant seeking temporary authorization. All signatures are required to be by hand (as opposed to electronic signatures).
There are some limitations on what attorneys authorized to practice under the new rule will be able to do. For example, an attorney authorized under this rule cannot conduct a deposition (examination before trial) or appear in court without the presence of the supervising attorney who is available to supplement or correct any written or oral statement or action made by the authorized attorney. If the authorized attorney appears without a supervising attorney, the matter cannot proceed. There is an exception, however, for routine calendar calls – the authorized attorney may appear without a supervising attorney as long as a supervising attorney is immediately available to appear if necessary.
When an authorized attorney is appearing in any of the above instances, notice must be given to the judge before whom the appearance will be made. An authorized attorney must obtain prior Court approval to appear before the Court of Appeals or the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court.
In addition, any legal or litigation documents prepared or drafted by an authorized attorney must be approved by a supervising attorney, and the supervising attorney’s name must appear on the document. If a signature is required under 22 NYCRR 130, the supervising attorney is required to sign.
Authorized attorneys under this part are not authorized to open, maintain, or be a signatory on any attorney escrow account, and may not make a final disposition of any matter without prior approval of a supervising attorney.
Authorized attorneys are subject to the same disciplinary authority as practicing attorneys who have been admitted to the bar. Termination of authority under this part can occur in a number of ways, including revocation of the part, or revocation of the attorney’s authority for good cause, as well as if the authorized attorney fails a bar exam in the United States or fails to sit for the Uniform Bar Exam by August 2021.