Section 2-15A of the Connecticut Rules of Superior Court Regulating Admission to the Bar allows attorneys exclusively employed by an organization to practice law in Connecticut.
An “organization” is a corporation, partnership, association, or employer sponsored benefit plan or other legal entity (together with its parents, subsidiaries, and affiliates) that is not itself engaged in the practice of law or the rendering of legal services outside the organization, whether for a fee or otherwise. The organization cannot charge or collect a fee for the activities of the authorized attorney, except to entities comprising the organization.
- Be licensed members in good standing of a state, territory, or the District of Columbia.
- Agree to abide by the rules regulating members of the Connecticut Bar and submit to the jurisdiction of the grievance Committee and the
Connecticut Superior Court.
- On the date of the application for registration, be employed in Connecticut by an organization or relocating to Connecticut in furtherance of
such employment within three months of the application and receive or shall receive compensation for activities performed for that business
- Be of good moral character.
Practice and Restrictions
Authorized house counsel practice is limited to:
- Giving legal advice to directors, officers, employees, trustees, and agents of the organization with respect to its business or affairs.
- Negotiating and documenting all matters for the organization.
- Representing the organization in its dealings with any administrative agency, tribunal, or commission having jurisdiction. Authorized house
counsel cannot make appearances before Connecticut court or any state or municipal administrative tribunal, agency, or commission unless
specially admitted to appear. (Please see the Connecticut Pro Hac Vice Rules).
- Authorized house counsel cannot represent himself for herself as a member of the Connecticut Bar.
- Authorized house counsel cannot give legal advice or individually or personally represent any shareholder, owner, partner, officer, employee, servant, or agent in any matter or transaction unless otherwise permitted by law, code, or rule. Attorneys cannot prepare legal instruments or documents on behalf of anyone other than the organization employing the authorized house counsel.
- Authorized house counsel cannot express or render a legal judgment or opinion that will be relied upon by any third party other than one rendered in connection with a commercial, financial, or other business transaction to which the organization is a party and in which the legal opinion has been requested by another party to the transaction. Attorneys cannot render legal opinions or advice in consumer transactions to customers of the organization employing the authorized house counsel.
- Effective January 1, 2013, house counsel attorneys may also provide pro bono services.
The bar exam Committee investigates the applicant to ensure the individual is of good moral character, has passed the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE) or has completed a course in professional responsibility, and has met the applicable education requirements.
Attorneys must file:
- A certificate that the attorney is licensed and in good standing in each jurisdiction where admitted.
- The applicant has read and is familiar with the Connecticut Rules of Professional Conduct and will abide by those provisions.
- The applicant submits to the jurisdiction of the statewide grievance Committee and applicable disciplinary procedures and authorizes
notification to and from each entity governing the practice of law where the applicant is admitted regarding disciplinary action taken
against the applicant.
- Lists every jurisdiction where the applicant has been admitted to practice law.
- Disclosing any disciplinary history including reprimand, censure, suspension, disbarment, or placement on inactive status.
- Employer Affidavit. An organization’s certificate stating the attorney is qualified, it is aware the applicant is not licensed to practice law in Connecticut, and the applicant is employed by the organization.
- Affidavits from two members of the Connecticut Bar, who have been licensed to practice law in Connecticut for at least five years, certifying the applicant is of good moral character and is employed or will be employed by the organization.
- Payment of the filing fee.
Registration and Renewal
Attorneys are required to pay annual fees and must register annually with statewide grievance committee.
Termination or Withdrawal of Registration
Termination occurs upon the earliest of the following events:
- Termination or resignation of employment. If authorized house counsel obtains employment with another organization within 30 days, the house counsel authorization continues upon the filing of a new organization certificate.
- The attorney withdraws the authorization.
- Relocation of authorized house counsel outside of Connecticut for a period of 180 consecutive days.
- Failure of authorized house counsel to comply with any applicable provision of the house counsel authorization rule.
Attorneys must provide notification of any one of the above events within 30 days, or he or she could possibly be subject to discipline. Attorneys may reapply for house counsel authorization. The Connecticut Superior Court may also terminate the authorization temporarily or permanently with cause.