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Order Promulgating Amendments To Rules of Supreme Court On Lawyer Registration

Supreme Court of Minnesota

March 12, 2018

ORDER PROMULGATING AMENDMENTS TO THE RULES OF THE SUPREME COURT ON LAWYER REGISTRATION

          ORDER

          Lorie S. Gildea Chief Justice

         The Minnesota State Board of Continuing Legal Education (CLE Board), which has supervisory responsibility for the rules that govern lawyer registration, see Rule 8, Rules on Lawyer Registration, has recommended amendments to the Rules of the Supreme Court on Lawyer Registration and minor amendments to the Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct and the Rules of the State Board of Continuing Legal Education. We opened a public comment period on the proposed amendments. Representatives of the Minnesota State Bar Association and Minnesota Women Lawyers filed comments, as did two members of the bar. We have carefully considered the recommended amendments, the written comments regarding the proposed amendments, and a request from the CLE Board, filed on November 22, 2017, to modify its petition in two minor respects. Based on that review, we now adopt amendments to the Rules on Lawyer Registration, the Rules of Professional Conduct, and the Rules of the State Board of Continuing Legal Education.

         We provide the following observations regarding these amendments.

         First, the primary objective of the CLE Board's petition was to comprehensively update the registration rules through a substantial re-write and re-organization of the current rules. The substantial rearrangement and re-writing of the rules makes it difficult to show amendments to the rules in a traditional strike-through and addition format. Therefore, the rules attached to this order are adopted effective as of July 1, 2018, and the rules as currently promulgated are abrogated effective as of July 1, 2018.

         Second, effective July 1, 2018, a lawyer or judge who is not currently on inactive status -retired, see Minn. R. Lawyers Registration 2(CX5), can request retired-inactive status on or after the age of 68 if the person is not engaged in the practice of law anywhere. See Rule 7, Rules on Lawyer Registration (eff. July 1, 2018). This new rule makes two changes of significance to current Rule 2(CX5): the restriction on income earned from "any gainful employment" is eliminated, and the retirement age is increased to 68. See Minn. R. Lawyers Registration 7 (eff. July 1, 2018). We adopt the recommended increase in the age at which retired-inactive status can be requested for a simple reason. Fees from registered lawyers are used to support the work of the Board of Law Examiners, the CLE Board, the Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board, the Client Security Board, and the Legal Services Advisory Committee. See Minn. R. Lawyers Registration 10 (eff. July 1, 2018). An expansion of those eligible for fee-exempt status, such as is provided by retired-inactive status, must be implemented in a way that does not disrupt the crucial funding support provided by lawyer registration fees. The CLE Board identified age 68 as the level at which the least financial impact would result in current funding levels for the boards that rely on an allocated portion of lawyer registration fees. The CLE Board also relied on survey data from retired and older lawyers to identify the optimal retirement age for purposes of this rule change.

         Based on all of the files, records, and proceedings herein, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED THAT:

         1. The Rules of the Supreme Court on Lawyer Registration, as attached to this order, are promulgated as effective as of July 1, 2018.

         2. The Rules of the Supreme Court on Lawyer Registration that are effective as of January 1, 2017, with all amendments through the date of this order, are abrogated effective as of July 1, 2018.

         3. The inactive status-retired of a lawyer or judge who has complied with Rule 2(CX5) on or before June 30, 2018 will be deemed to convert to retired status-inactive under Rule 7 of the Rules of the Supreme Court on Lawyer Registration as of July 1, 2018. The lawyer or judge will thereafter be subject to the Rule 7(C) if that lawyer or judge requests reinstatement to active status pursuant to Rule 9 or resumes the practice of law in another state, territory, or the District of Columbia.

         4. Rule 1.15 of the Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct and the Rules of the State Board of Continuing Legal Education are amended as shown in the attachment to this order, effective July 1, 2018.

         Rules of the Supreme Court on Lawyer Registration Effective July 1, 2018

         TABLE OF HEADNOTES

         1. Purpose Statement

         2. Definitions

         3. Supervisory Authority

         4. New Lawyer Fee

         5. Active Status Fees

         6. Inactive Status Fees

         7. Retired Status: Inactive

         8. Permanent Disability Status: Inactive

         9. Transfer from Inactive Status to Active Status

         10. Allocation of Lawyer Registration Fees

         11. Registration Deadline

         12. Notification of Fee Due

         13. Obligation to Notify of Change in Postal or Email Address

         14. Failure to Comply; Noncompliant Status; Administrative Suspension

         15. Duty to Prohibit Unauthorized Practice

         16. Reinstatement

         17. Waivers

         18. License Card; Certificate of Minnesota Lawyer Registration

         19. Certificate of Good Standing

         20. Special Fund

         21. Nonresident Counsel

         22. Annual Reporting of Professional Liability Insurance Coverage

         23. Access to Lawyer Registration Records

         24. Exemption for Certain Military Personnel

          Rule 1. Purpose Statement

         The purpose of these Rules is to maintain an accurate record of all lawyers and judges licensed in the state of Minnesota, to collect information from registered lawyers and judges annually, and to collect fees to help defray the cost of bar examinations, preadmission investigations, lawyer discipline, a lawyer-client security fund, legal services programs, and lawyers' assistance programs.

         Rule 2. Definitions A. "Active status" means a license status for a lawyer or judge who:

(1) has paid the applicable required lawyer registration fee for the current year;
(2) is in compliance with the requirements of the Minnesota State Board of Continuing Legal Education or with Minnesota Judicial Branch policies regarding continuing judicial education;
(3) is not disbarred, suspended, or on disability status pursuant to Rule 28 of the Rules on Lawyers Professional Responsibility;
(4) is in compliance with Rule 1.15 and Appendix 1 of the Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct regarding trust accounts and has so certified on the Lawyer Registration Statement; and
(5) is in compliance with Rule 22 of these Rules. A lawyer or judge on active status is in good standing and is authorized to practice law in this state.

         B."Inactive status** means a license status for a lawyer or judge who has elected to be on inactive status pursuant to Rule 6, 7, ...


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