(a) Qualifications for Admission. The Supreme Court may issue a limited certificate of admission to practice law in South Carolina to any person who:
(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 or the District of Columbia;
(5) is a member in good standing in each jurisdiction where he 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 employed in the legal department or under the supervision of the legal department of a corporation, company, partnership, or association (business employer) which does not provide legal services in South Carolina to the public or its employees. If not a South Carolina corporation, company, partnership or association, the business employer must be qualified or otherwise lawfully engaged in business in South Carolina;
(8) performs most of his duties for the business employer in South Carolina and has his principal office in South Carolina; and
(9) provides legal services in South Carolina solely for the business employer or the parent or subsidiary of such employer.
(b) Application. An attorney desiring a limited certificate of admission to practice law shall file with the Clerk of the Supreme Court an application in duplicate on a form prescribed 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, a non-refundable application fee of $400 and a statement signed by a representative of the attorney's business employer stating that the attorney and the business employer meet the requirements of subsections (a)(7) to (9) above.
(c) Reference to the Committee on Character and Fitness. Any questions concerning the fitness or qualifications of an attorney applying for a limited certificate of admission to practice law may be referred by the Court to the Committee on Character and Fitness for a hearing and recommendation.
(d) Confidentiality. The confidentiality provisions of Rule 402(n), SCACR, shall apply to all files and records of the Board of Law Examiners, the Committee on Character and Fitness, and the Clerk of the Supreme Court relating to an application for a limited certificate to practice law under this rule.
(e) Scope of Practice. An attorney issued a limited certificate of admission to practice law may represent his employer:
(1) before any State agency in an administrative proceeding if authorized by the agency's regulations;
(2) before the magistrate's court in civil proceedings upon presentation of a copy of the certificate to the court;
(3) before any other South Carolina court or tribunal only if:
(A) he associates as co-counsel a member of the South Carolina Bar licensed under Rule 402. The associated attorney shall be present at all trials, hearings, depositions, and other proceedings, and shall be required to sign all pleadings, motions, and other documents required to be signed by an attorney; and
(B) a copy of the certificate is presented to the court or other tribunal.
(f) Certain Activities Permitted. An attorney granted a limited certificate of admission to practice law is not prevented from appearing in any matter pro se or from fulfilling the duties of a member of the reserve components of the armed forces or the National Guard.
(g) Rights and Obligations. The performance of legal services in this State by an attorney issued a limited certificate of admission to practice law shall be deemed the active engagement in the practice of law and shall subject the attorney to all duties and obligations of regular members of the South Carolina Bar and to all rules on the practice of law, including the Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 407, SCACR, and the Rules for Lawyer Disciplinary Enforcement, Rule 413, SCACR. The attorney shall pay the fee specified by Rule 410, SCACR, and shall be subject to suspension under Rule 419, SCACR, for failing to pay those license fees or for failing to comply with continuing legal education requirements.
(h) 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, 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.
(i) 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 below. Unless otherwise ordered by the Court, the attorney may not seek to be readmitted as an attorney 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.
(j) 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 (h) 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 fails at any time to be a member of the bar in good standing before the highest court of at least one other state or the District of Columbia.
(5) The attorney ceases to be an employee of the business employer.
(k) Resignation. Any request by an attorney licensed under this rule shall be processed as provided by Rule 409, SCACR.
(l) Surrender of Certificate. Upon the termination of the limited certificate of admission to practice law or the acceptance of a resignation, the attorney 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.
(m) Eligibility to Provide Pro Bono Legal Services. An attorney granted a limited certificate to practice law under this rule may, subject to the limitations contained in section (n) below, provide pro bono legal services if the attorney:
(1) is associated with an approved legal services organization which receives, or is eligible to receive, funds from the Legal Services Corporation or is working on a case or project through the South Carolina Bar Pro Bono Program;
(2) performs all activities authorized by this rule under the supervision of an attorney (Supervising Attorney) who is a regular member of the South Carolina Bar employed by, or participating as a volunteer for, the legal services organization or the South Carolina Bar Pro Bono Program and who assumes professional responsibility for the conduct of the matter, litigation, or administrative proceeding in which the attorney participates; and
(3) neither asks for nor receives compensation of any kind for the legal services provided to the client.
(n) Authorized Pro Bono Legal Services. In representing a client through an approved legal services organization or the South Carolina Bar Pro Bono Program, the attorney may:
(1) appear in any court or before any tribunal in this State if the client consents, in writing, to that appearance and the Supervising Attorney has given written approval for the appearance. The written consent and approval must be filed with the court or tribunal and must be brought to the attention of the judge or presiding officer prior to the appearance;
(2) prepare pleadings and other documents to be filed in any court or before any tribunal in this State on behalf of the client. Such pleadings shall also be signed by the Supervising Attorney; and
(3) otherwise engage in the practice of law as is necessary for the representation of the client.
(o) Conduct Prior to December 31, 1989. Notwithstanding any other provision of this Rule, the performance of legal services in this State solely for the corporation, company, partnership, or association prior to December 31, 1989, shall be deemed to have been the authorized practice of law in this State for all purposes if, at the time of the performance of the legal services, the attorney met the requirements of section (a) above.
Last amended by order dated May 7, 2012, effective January 1, 2013.