Bar applicants allowed to work under attorney supervision

WILMINGTON — While next month’s Delaware Bar Examination has been canceled due to COVID-19 concerns, that doesn’t necessarily mean aspiring lawyers can’t begin their legal careers.

On Wednesday, the Delaware Supreme Court released a 10-page limited practice order allowing certified Delaware Bar applicants to work under the supervision of a qualified attorney.

“The Court expresses its appreciation to the Board of Bar Examiners for developing the interim practice privilege,” said Chief Justice Collins J. Seitz Jr. in a news release.

“It is our hope that many Delaware Bar applicants can take advantage of this opportunity and get started with their legal careers while we continue to deal with the COVID 19 pandemic.”

Bar candidates must apply for a limited practice license and pass a character and fitness investigation. Anyone who has failed the bar exam two or more times is ineligible.

Collins J. Seitz Jr.

Limited practice licensees may make court appearances such as hearings and trials, but a supervising attorney must be present with some exceptions. A State Court can order a supervising attorney to be present at any time.

Under no circumstances can the limited practice licensee operate as a solo practitioner.

If supervised by a consenting supervising or designated attorney, but outside his or her practice, a limited practice licensee may:

• Prepare pleadings and other documents to be filed in any matter in which the certified limited practice licensee is eligible to appear, but such pleadings or documents must be signed by the supervising attorney or designated attorney.

• Negotiate in the settlement of claims and charges.

• Represent clients in mediation or other non-binding alternative dispute resolution processes.

• Give legal advice and perform other appropriate legal services.

Eligibility may be terminated by the Board of Bar Examiners or the Supreme Court at any time without notice or hearing and without any showing of cause, according to the order.

Eligible supervising attorneys must:

• Be admitted and in good standing in the Delaware Bar.

• Been engaged in the active practice of law in Delaware for at least five years.

• Currently engaged in the active practice of law in Delaware.

• Not the subject of any pending disciplinary matters in any jurisdiction at the time of the applicant’s registration under this Order.

Supervising attorneys may oversee no more than two limited practice licensees.

More information is available online at courts.delaware.gov.

The Delaware Bar Examination had been scheduled for Sept. 9-11 at the Delaware State Fairgrounds in Harrington.

According to a news release that announced the order on July 24, “The rapidly changing nature of the pandemic makes this year’s exam particularly difficult to administer.”

The announcement noted that nearly 60 percent of the bar applicants were from out of state “ including locations currently considered ‘hotspots.’

“Some of those out of state applicants are also subject to quarantine requirements in their home state.”