Rule 311 (Attorney Participants in Defender or Legal Services Programs) of the Pennsylvania Bar Admission Rules allows attorneys licensed in other jurisdictions to practice before Pennsylvania courts and magisterial district judges who are employed or associated with an approved legal services program or a public defender’s office. The limited admission expires after 30 months, unless the Court extends that time period upon good cause shown.
Attorneys must be employed by or associated with an organized legal services program in Pennsylvania that is sponsored, approved, or recognized by the local county bar association and provides legal assistance to indigents in civil matters. Attorneys may also be employed by or associated with a public defender’s office or organized defender association in Pennsylvania that provides legal assistance to indigents in criminal matters.
- Have received, without exception, a Bachelor of Law or Juris Doctor degree from a law school.
- Be admitted to practice law in another state and be on active status.
- Have no prior conduct, which in the opinion of the board, indicates character and general qualifications (other than scholastic) that are not compatible with the standards that the Pennsylvania Bar members are expected to observe. Applicants who are disbarred or suspended for disciplinary reasons from the practice of law in another jurisdiction at the time the application is filed are not eligible.
- Cannot have taken and failed the Pennsylvania bar exam. Attorneys that failed the bar exam and later passed it are eligible.
Attorneys are subject to the Enforcement Rules.
Application and Certification
Attorneys must file an Application with the Board that includes a statement signed by a representative of the organized legal services program, the public defender’s office, or organized defender association indicating that the attorney will be employed by or associated with the organization. Any such statement must also contain an undertaking by the organized legal services program, the public defender’s office, or organized defender association to notify the Prothonotary immediately whenever the attorney ceases to be employed by the organization. The application will be processed according to Rules 212 through 222.
Attorneys must submit:
- A certificate of good standing from the highest court, or the agency having jurisdiction over admission to the bar and the practice of law, in every jurisdiction where the applicant has been admitted to practice law. The certificate must state that the applicant is in good professional standing at the bar of such court or such state. Applicants who are disbarred or suspended for disciplinary reasons from the practice of law in another jurisdiction at the time the application is filed are not eligible.
- The $250 applicable fee.
At any time within six months of the receipt of a certificate from the Board recommending the issuance of a limited license, the applicant may file a motion with the Prothonotary, on a form prescribed by the board, for issuance of the limited license. The fee and certificate of recommendation from the Board must be filed with the motion. After receipt of the appropriate documents and fee, the Prothonotary enters the name of the applicant in the docket of persons specially admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar subject to the restrictions of the legal services rules and will issue an appropriate certificate.
The limited admission expires after 30 months, unless the Court extends that time period upon good cause shown. The limited admission also expires when the employment or association ceases. A written statement by the organization’s representative must be filed with the Prothonotary when the attorney ceases to be employed or associated with the office, association, or program.