The official application form for registration as Authorized House Counsel in Connecticut is now available on the website of the Connecticut Bar Examining Committee (CBEC). To access it, go to http://www.jud.ct.gov/CBEC and then click on “Application Information” near the upper left hand corner of the screen.
Rule 2-15A of the Rules of the Connecticut Superior Court creates the status of Authorized House Counsel and prescribes the requirements for registration and the restrictions on scope of practice. It provides, in its subsection (g), a form of amnesty and immunity from UPL charges for lawyers who have worked in Connecticut as in-house counsel while being admitted only in other jurisdictions. This “Transition” provision reads as follows:
(1) Preapplication Employment in Connecticut. The performance of an applicant’s duties as an employee of an organization in Connecticut prior to the effective date of this rule shall not be grounds for the denial of registration of such applicant if application for registration is made within 6 months of the effective date of this rule.
(2) Immunity from Enforcement Action. An authorized house counsel who has been duly registered under this rule shall not be subject to enforcement action for the unlicensed practice of law for acting as counsel to an organization prior to the effective date of this rule.
In order to take advantage of this subsection (g) you must file an application before July 1, 2008, which is six months after the Rule’s effective date of January 1, 2008. Once your application has been filed, you will have a year from the filing date to make the application complete by submitting any required documentation and other information that was missing when it was filed. We understand that this one-year deadline is subject to extension for good cause shown.
Because the focus of the CBEC over the next 60 or 90 days or so will be on the Bar Examination to be administered in February, it is unlikely that much attention or processing will be devoted to Authorized House Counsel registration applications over this time frame. Moreover, it is hoped that the CBEC and the Superior Court Rules Committee will consider certain proposed changes to rules and policies relating to eligibility to register as Authorized House Counsel in the coming months. Therefore, for those who have any concerns about their eligibility for registration under existing rules, it may be advisable to delay filing applications until April or May. Such delay would provide two benefits: First, it will provide a clearer picture of the eligibility requirements for registration as they may be modified if the CBEC and/or Superior Court Rules Committee takes favorable action on rule amendments that are currently under consideration. Second, it would extend the time within which various required documents like law school transcripts, certifications, and the like can be obtained. Prospective applicants would be well advised diligently to obtain or prepare to obtain and assemble these items, bearing in mind that some of them must be obtained within a prescribed time of the filing of the application.
Because the rules and the requirements of the CBEC at the present time impose rigid educational qualifications on applicants for registration as Authorized House Counsel that not all lawyers may be able to satisfy, lawyers in doubt as to their eligibility may want to seek advice and assistance from counsel.