Rule XXII of the Rules Governing the Bar of Texas allows military attorneys to appear before Texas courts and tribunals in civil proceedings.
Military attorneys must be admitted to practice law in a state (other than Texas), territory of the United States, or the District of Columbia. Military attorneys are full-time, active-duty military officers serving in the office of a Staff Judge Advocate of the United States Air Force, Army, Navy, Marines, or Coast Guard, a Naval Legal Service Office, or a trial Service Office located in Texas.
Military attorneys may represent enlisted military personnel in grades E-1 through E-4 and immediate family members who qualify under armed services regulations as dependents of enlisted military personnel in grades E-1 through E-4 if the military attorney’s supervisory Staff Judge Advocate, or other supervisory military attorney, determines that retaining civilian legal counsel for the matter in controversy would present a substantial financial hardship for the family member involved.
Military attorneys may represent other military personnel, as well as their immediate family members who qualify under armed services regulations as their dependents, only if the military attorney receives written approval from the Judge Advocate General of the Army, Navy, Coast Guard, or Air Force, or the Staff Judge Advocate to the Commandant of the Marine Corps, as appropriate. The written authorization must include a determination that retaining civilian legal counsel would present a substantial financial hardship for the service member or family member involved.
The practice is subject to the limitations and restrictions of 10 U.S.C. § 1044 and the regulations of that attorney’s military service. The practice is further limited to:
- Cases arising under all Titles, except Title 3, of the Family Code.
- Landlord-tenant disputes on behalf of tenants.
- Consumer-law cases on behalf of consumers.
- Garnishment defenses.
- Estate planning and probate matters.
- Enforcement of rights under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.
- Enforcement of rights under the Uniformed Services Employment andReemployment Rights Act and other cases within the discretion of the court or tribunal where the civil proceeding is pending. The court or tribunal’s written permission must be obtained in advance of the appearance.
All pleadings filed in a civil proceeding are required to state that the limited permission to practice in Texas has been obtained under the rule. This includes the name, complete address, and telephone number of the military attorney’s legal office and of the supervisory Staff Judge Advocate or other supervisory military attorney and also includes the name, grade, and armed service of the military attorney who is providing representation. Upon making an appearance in a civil proceeding, the court or tribunal requires a document designating each individual authorized to accept service of process on the military attorney’s behalf and providing the name and complete address of each authorized individual. If the military attorney does not file this document, the military attorney’s agent for service of process is the supervisory Staff Judge Advocate or supervisory military attorney whose name appears on the military attorney’s most recent application filed pursuant to military rules or the successor to that office.
Military attorneys are subject to the Rules Governing Admission to the Bar of Texas, the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct, the Texas Rules of Disciplinary Procedure, and any other rules and laws governing the discipline of attorneys admitted to the State Bar of Texas. The State Bar of Texas, Supreme Court of Texas, and other Texas courts have jurisdiction over the attorney regarding discipline and professional conduct. This includes, but is not limited to, the authority to terminate the military attorney’s privilege to practice law in Texas under military rules.
Military attorneys may request to participate in a proceeding under Rule XIX (Texas Pro Hac Vice) but cannot represent themselves to be members of the Texas Bar or as being licensed to practice law in the State of Texas.
Military attorneys cannot demand or receive any compensation for the legal services provided under the military rules but may receive their regular pay and allowances.
Application and Certification
Military attorneys must be of good moral character and apply for an annual registration. The application includes:
- Presenting satisfactory proof of admission to practice law and current good standing as a member of the bar in any state, territory of the United States, or the District of Columbia.
- Complying with the training requirement of the military rules. Training includes completion of at least 15 CLE credit hours, including a minimum of three hours of legal ethics or professional responsibility, within the first year of registration. The three hours of ethics CLE credit hours must be completed each subsequent year.
- Payment of the applicable fee.
The Board may terminate the privilege to practice at any time, with or without cause. The privilege also terminates when the military attorney ends full-time, active-duty military service.
The military attorney or the attorney’s supervisory Staff Judge Advocate or other supervisory military attorney is required to:
- Advise the Board as soon as practicable of any change in the military attorney’s status that may affect his or her right to practice under the military rules.
- Immediately notify each court or tribunal where the attorney is involved in a pending civil proceeding when the military attorney is unable to continue to serve as counsel under the military rules.
- Immediately obtain substitution of counsel when the military attorney involved in any pending civil proceeding is unable to continue to serve as counsel under the military rules.