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Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Rule 4:02: Periodic Registration of Attorneys

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(1) Registration Statement Required. Every attorney admitted to, or engaging in, the practice of law in this Commonwealth, within three months of becoming subject to this chapter and annually thereafter, shall file with the Board a registration statement setting forth his or her current residence and office addresses, and such other information as this court may from time to time direct, including the date of his or her admission to the bar of this court and of each admission to practice in each other jurisdiction, including each Federal court and each administrative body. The statement shall disclose whether the attorney is in good standing in each such jurisdiction, and, if not in good standing in any jurisdiction, it shall contain an explanation of the circumstances. The Board may adopt rules and regulations establishing a system of staggered annual registrations, and in order to implement such a system may provide for a transition period during which different attorneys may be required to file registration statements at different times and with different expiration dates, so that thereafter all annual registrations will not expire on the same date. In addition to such registration statement, every attorney shall file a supplemental statement of any change in the information previously submitted within thirty days of such change. Within twenty days of the receipt of a registration statement or supplement thereto filed by an attorney, the Board shall acknowledge receipt thereof in order to enable the attorney on request to demonstrate compliance with the requirement of this rule.

(1A) Foreign Legal Consultants. Every person licensed to practice in this Commonwealth as a foreign legal consultant pursuant to Rule 3:05, within three months of becoming subject to this chapter and annually thereafter, shall file with the Board a registration statement setting forth his or her current residence and office addresses, and such other information as this court may from time to time direct, including the date of his or her license to practice as a foreign legal consultant and of each admission to practice in each other jurisdiction including each foreign court. The original statement and each annual statement shall provide a document establishing that the foreign legal consultant is in good standing in each such jurisdiction, and, if not in good standing in any jurisdiction, it shall contain an explanation of the circumstances. In addition to such registration statement, every foreign legal consultant shall file a supplemental statement of any change in the information previously submitted within thirty days of such change. Foreign legal consultants shall be subject to the provisions of Rule 4:03 and subsections (2), (3), (4), and (5) of this Rule.

(2) Designation of IOLTA Account. Each attorney shall, as part of the annual filing required by subsection (1) of this rule and on forms provided by the Board for this purpose, specify the name, account number and depository of his or her IOLTA account. The Board shall transmit information regarding attorneys' IOLTA accounts to the Supreme Judicial Court and to the IOLTA Committee established by the Court.

(2A) Professional Liability Insurance Disclosure.

(a) Each attorney shall, as part of the annual filing required by subsection (1) of this rule and on forms provided by the Board for this purpose, certify whether he or she is currently covered by professional liability insurance. Each attorney currently registered as active in the practice of law in this Commonwealth who reports being covered by professional liability insurance shall notify the Board in writing within thirty days if the insurance policy providing coverage lapses or terminates for any reason without immediate renewal or replacement with substitute coverage.

(b) The foregoing shall be certified by each attorney in such form as may be prescribed by the Board. The information submitted pursuant to this subsection will be made available to the public by such means as may be designated by the Board.

(c) Any attorney who fails to comply with this subsection may, upon petition filed by the bar counsel or the Board, be suspended from the practice of law until such time as the attorney complies. Supplying false information or failure to notify the Board of lapse or termination of insurance coverage as required by this subsection shall subject the attorney to appropriate disciplinary action.

(3) Failure to file. Any attorney who fails to file the statement or any supplement thereto in accordance with the requirements of subsections (1), (1A), (2), and (2A) above shall be subject to suspension in accordance with the procedures set forth in Rule 4:03.

(4) Inactive Status.

(a) Any attorney may advise the Board in writing that he or she desires to assume inactive status and to discontinue the practice of law in this Commonwealth. Upon the filing of such notice, the attorney shall continue to file annual registration statements for as long as he or she remains on inactive status, but shall no longer be eligible to practice law in this Commonwealth, except to provide pro bono publico legal services in accordance with Rule 4:02(8)(a). Any inactive attorney shall pay the fee imposed pursuant to Rule 4:03 for inactive attorneys.

(b) Upon the filing of a notice that he or she wishes to assume inactive status, an attorney shall be removed from the rolls of those classified as active until and unless he or she requests reinstatement to the active rolls and pays for the year of reinstatement the fee imposed pursuant to Rule 4:03 for active attorneys.

(5) Retirement.

(a) Any attorney may advise the Board in writing that he or she desires to retire from the bar and to discontinue the practice of law in this Commonwealth. Upon the filing of such notice, the attorney shall no longer be eligible to practice law in this Commonwealth but shall continue to file registration statements for three years thereafter in order that he or she can be located in the event complaints are made about his or her conduct while he or she was engaged in practice in this Commonwealth. A retired attorney may provide pro bono publico legal services in accordance with Rule 4:02(8)(b). A retired attorney providing such services shall file annual registration statements as provided in that Rule. Any retired attorney will be relieved from the payment of the fees imposed pursuant to Rule 4:03.

(b) Upon the filing of a notice that he or she wishes to retire from the bar, an attorney shall be removed from the rolls of those classified as active until and unless he or she requests reinstatement to the active rolls and pays the fee imposed pursuant to Rule 4:03 for active attorneys for each of the years during which he or she was retired from the bar.

(6) Judicial Status.

(a) Any attorney who sits as a judge of any state or Federal court may advise the Board in writing that he or she is a sitting judge and desires to discontinue the practice of law in this Commonwealth. Upon the filing of such a notice, the attorney will be placed on judicial status and will be relieved from the payment of the fees imposed pursuant to Rule 4:03.

(b) Upon the filing of a notice that he or she has left the bench and wishes to be reinstated to the active rolls and upon payment for the year of reinstatement of the fee imposed pursuant to Rule 4:03 for active attorneys, an attorney on judicial status shall be so reinstated.

(7) Clerk Status.

(a) Any "clerk magistrate," as defined in Canon 1 of Supreme Judicial Court Rule 3:12, and any Federal clerk of court, chief deputy clerk and deputy clerk may advise the Board in writing that he or she is a clerk. Upon the filing of such a notice, the attorney will be placed on clerk status and will be relieved from the payment of the fees imposed pursuant to Rule 4:03.

(b) Upon the filing of a notice that he or she is no longer a clerk and wishes to be reinstated to the active rolls and upon payment for the year of reinstatement of the fee imposed pursuant to Rule 4:03 for active attorneys, an attorney on clerk status shall be so reinstated.

(8) Pro Bono Status.

(a) Any attorney admitted to the practice of law in the Commonwealth who has assumed inactive status in accordance with Rule 4:02(4) but who wishes to provide pro bono publico legal services without compensation or expectation of compensation as described in Rule 6.1 of the Massachusetts Rules of Professional Conduct (S.J.C. Rule 3:07) may advise the Board by filing an appropriate annual registration statement that he or she will limit his or her legal practice to providing pro bono publico legal services under the auspices of an approved legal services organization, as defined below. The annual registration statement shall indicate whether the attorney is, or was at the time he or she assumed inactive status, the subject of any pending grievance or disciplinary charge and shall be signed by an authorized representative of the approved legal services organization under whose auspices the attorney will provide services. Unless the Board of Bar Overseers objects, the attorney may begin providing pro bono services after filing such a statement.

(b) Any attorney admitted to the practice of law in the Commonwealth who has retired from the bar and discontinued the practice of law in this Commonwealth in accordance with Rule 4:02(5) may advise the Board by filing an appropriate annual registration statement that he or she will limit his or her legal practice to providing pro bono publico legal services without compensation or expectation of compensation as described in Rule 6.1 of the Massachusetts Rules of Professional Conduct (S.J.C. Rule 3:07) under the auspices of an approved legal services organization, as defined below. The annual registration statement shall indicate whether the attorney is, or was at the time he or she retired, the subject of any pending grievance or disciplinary charge and shall be signed by an authorized representative of an approved legal services organization under whose auspices the attorney will provide services. Unless the Board of Bar Overseers objects, the attorney may begin providing pro bono services after filing such a statement.

(c) For purposes of this Rule, an approved legal services organization shall include a pro bono publico legal services program sponsored by a court annexed program, a bar association, a Massachusetts law school, or a not for profit organization that provides legal services to persons of limited means and that receives funding from the federal Legal Services Corporation, the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation, the Massachusetts Bar Foundation, the Boston Bar Foundation, or the Women's Bar Foundation, and in addition, shall include any not for profit legal services organization designated as an approved legal services organization after petition to the Supreme Judicial Court.

(9) In-House Counsel Status

(a) Any attorney who is admitted in another United States jurisdiction, and not disbarred or suspended from practice in any jurisdiction, and who wishes to engage in the practice of law as in-house counsel in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts shall advise the Board by (i) filing an appropriate annual registration statement that he or she will limit legal practice in Massachusetts to engaging in the practice of law as in-house counsel, and (ii) identifying the organization on whose behalf the legal services are provided. The initial annual registration statement shall be accompanied by a certificate of good standing from each jurisdiction in which the attorney is licensed to practice law. The initial annual registration statement and all later annual registration statements shall disclose whether the attorney is in good standing in each jurisdiction to which he or she is admitted, and, if not in good standing in any jurisdiction, it shall contain an explanation of the circumstances. The initial annual registration statement and all later annual registration statements shall be signed by an authorized representative of the organization on whose behalf the attorney seeks to engage in the practice of law as in-house counsel. Unless the Board of Bar Overseers objects, after filing such initial statement the attorney may engage in the practice of law as in-house counsel in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as described in the filing under this Rule.

(b) As used in this section 9, "to engage in the practice of law as in-house counsel" means to provide on behalf of a single organization (including a governmental entity) or its organizational affiliates any legal services that constitute the practice of law. Notwithstanding this limitation, such in-house counsel may provide pro bono publico legal services without compensation or expectation of compensation as described in Rule 6.1 of the Massachusetts Rules of Professional Conduct (S.J.C. Rule 3:07) under the auspices of either (1) an approved legal services organization (as defined in paragraph (8)(c) above) or (2) a lawyer admitted to practice and in good standing in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

(c) Any attorney registered under this section who changes or terminates his or her employment shall be required to file a supplemental statement of change in information under Rule 4:02(1) regardless of whether he or she wishes to continue to engage in the practice of law in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as in-house counsel for another organization.

(d) Nothing in this section shall be deemed to affect any definition, limitation or explanation under rule, by decision, or otherwise, of what constitutes engaging in the practice of law in this Commonwealth, as used in section 4:02(1).

(e) Nothing in this section permits an attorney registered under this section to provide services for which the forum requires pro hac vice admission.

(f) As used in this section, "organization" does not include a corporation, partnership, limited liability company or other entity that itself engages in the practice of law by providing legal services to others.

(10) Residential Addresses Confidential

Residential addresses disclosed on registration statements, except those designated as the registrant's place of business, shall be treated as confidential and shall be used by the Board and by Bar Counsel only for the purpose of communicating with registrants or otherwise in the course of the business of the Board or Bar Counsel. Other than in the course of such business, neither the Board nor Bar Counsel shall disclose any such residential address to any third party unless directed to do so by order of this Court for Suffolk County.

Amended June 2011, effective September 1, 2011; January 30, 2013, effective March 1, 2013.