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South Carolina
JUDICIAL DEPARTMENT
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RULE 427
LIMITED CERTIFICATE OF ADMISSION FOR JUDGE ADVOCATES

(a) Purpose.  The purpose of this rule is to allow judge advocates to obtain a limited certificate to practice law to represent authorized clients before a court or administrative tribunal in South Carolina as part of legal assistance services authorized by 10 U.S.C. § 1044 and applicable military regulations.

(b) Definitions.

(1) Judge Advocate:  an officer of the Judge Advocate General’s Corps of the Army or the Navy; an officer of the Air Force or the Marine Corps who is designated as a judge advocate; or a commissioned officer of the Coast Guard designated for special duty (law). (10 U.S.C. §801(13)).  

(2) Administrative Tribunal:  the South Carolina Administrative Law Court or other administrative agency of this State or its political subdivisions which determines contested cases.

(3) Authorized Clients:  military personnel on active duty with the Armed Forces of the United States in the enlisted grades E-1 through E-4, and their dependents, who are under substantial financial hardship, to the extent that such representation is permitted by the supervisory staff judge advocate or commanding officer.  Other military personnel and their dependents who are under substantial financial hardship may be represented if approved by the applicable Judge Advocate General or his or her designee.  A dependent shall only include those persons eligible for legal assistance services under the applicable service regulation.

(c) Qualifications for Admission.  An attorney may be granted a limited certificate to practice law in South Carolina if he or she:

(1) is at least twenty-one (21) years of age;

(2) is a person of good moral character;

(3) has received a JD or LLB degree from a law school which was approved by the Council of Legal Education of the American Bar Association at the time the degree was conferred;

(4) has been admitted to practice law in the highest court of another state, the District of Columbia, or a territory of the United States;

(5) is a member in good standing in each jurisdiction where the attorney is admitted to practice law;

(6) has not been disbarred or suspended from the practice of law and is not the subject of any pending disciplinary proceeding in any other jurisdiction;

(7) is a judge advocate serving on active duty either indefinitely or for a period of six (6) months or more, and is assigned to a military installation, unit or office located in South Carolina; and,

(8) has completed an Essentials Series Course administered by the South Carolina Bar.  This course may be completed either live or on-line.  The South Carolina Bar shall make this course available to judge advocates seeking admission under this rule either without a fee or for a minimal fee.

(d) Application.  An attorney desiring a limited certificate of admission to practice law under this rule shall file an application with the Clerk of the Supreme Court.  This application shall be on a form approved by the Supreme Court. The application shall be accompanied by a certificate of good standing from each jurisdiction in which the attorney has been admitted to practice law, and a statement on official letterhead signed by the supervisory staff judge advocate or other supervisory judge advocate in the grade of 0-5 or above stating that the attorney meets the requirements of (c)(7) above.  No filing fee shall be required for the application.

(e) Reference to the Committee on Character and Fitness.  Any questions concerning the fitness or qualifications of the attorney may be referred by the Supreme Court to the Committee on Character and Fitness for a hearing and recommendation.

(f) Confidentiality. The confidentiality provisions of Rule 402(n), SCACR, shall apply to all files and records of the Committee on Character and Fitness, and the Clerk of the Supreme Court relating to a limited certificate to practice law under this rule.

(g) Scope of Representation and Adherence to Rules.  An attorney issued a limited certificate under this rule may represent an authorized client before a court or administrative tribunal of this State in a civil action or proceeding.  This rule does not authorize representation before a court or tribunal in a criminal case.   In providing representation, the attorney shall comply with the rules of practice and procedure applicable to the court or tribunal, and shall adhere to the South Carolina Rules of Professional Responsibility and any other ethical rules applicable to the matter.  The attorney shall also comply with the continuing legal education requirements of Rule 408, SCACR, and the failure to do so may result in administrative suspension under Rule 419, SCACR.  No license fee or assessment shall be charged to these attorneys under Rules 410 and 411, SCACR. The attorney shall not accept any form of compensation from an authorized client.

(h) Notice of Appearance to Be Filed.  In every case in which the attorney appears, the attorney shall complete and file a notice of appearance form.  This form shall be approved by the Supreme Court.  In addition to any other information which may be required by the form, this form shall contain the name of the attorney; the name, address and telephone number of the attorney's military unit or legal office; and information showing that a determination has been made that the client is an authorized client under this rule.

(i) Unauthorized Practice.  If an attorney granted a limited certificate engages in the practice of law in excess of that permitted by this rule, the attorney may be subject to discipline under Rule 413, SCACR, a revocation of the limited certificate by the Supreme Court, or being held in contempt of the Supreme Court for engaging in the unauthorized practice of law.

(j) Misconduct and Incapacity.  Except as otherwise provided in this rule, the procedures provided by Rule 413, SCACR, shall be used for resolving allegations that the attorney has committed ethical misconduct or suffers from a physical or mental condition which adversely affects the attorney's ability to practice law. If, however, the Supreme Court imposes a definite suspension or disbarment, or transfers the attorney to incapacity inactive status, the limited certificate shall be terminated as provided in (k) below. Unless otherwise ordered by the Court, the lawyer may not seek to be readmitted under this rule or any other rule until the period of suspension has expired or, in the case of disbarment, until five years after the date of the opinion or order imposing the disbarment.

(k) Termination of Certificate.  The limited certificate of admission to practice law shall terminate if:

(1) The limited certificate is revoked by the Supreme Court under (i) above.

(2) The attorney is admitted to practice law in South Carolina under Rule 402, SCACR, or is granted another limited certificate of admission to practice law under this or any other rule, or is licensed as a foreign legal consultant under Rule 424, SCACR.

(3) The attorney is suspended or disbarred in this or any other jurisdiction. This does not include interim suspensions under Rule 17 of the Rules for Lawyer Disciplinary Enforcement contained in Rule 413, SCACR, or a similar rule in another jurisdiction.  For an administrative suspension under Rule 419, SCACR, the attorney may seek reinstatement as provided in that rule.

(4) The attorney is no longer on active duty, is no longer assigned to perform legal assistance duties, or is no longer assigned to a military installation, unit or office located in South Carolina.

(l) Resignation.  Any request by an attorney licensed under this rule shall be processed as provided by Rule 409, SCACR.

(m) Surrender of Certificate.  Upon the termination of the limited certificate or acceptance of a resignation, the attorney granted the limited certificate shall immediately surrender the certificate to the Clerk of the Supreme Court.  The failure to immediately surrender the certificate upon termination or the acceptance of a resignation may subject the attorney to discipline under Rule 413, SCACR, or to being held in contempt of the Supreme Court.