House Counsel and Multi-Jurisdictional Practice

Washington's RPC 5.5 permits the practice of law in Washington by lawyers who are licensed in another United States jurisdiction under certain circumstances as set forth in the rule. 

Lawyers licensed in another U.S. jurisdiction who want to practice as house counsel are required to seek admission to the Bar, either by general admission via Admission by Motion (APR 3(c)) or limited admission as house counsel under APR 8(f). Please review the House Counsel Memo for additional information. Foreign house counsel will no longer be required to be admitted by exam in their original jurisdiction.

Applications for Admission By Motion are accepted through our online admissions site. Applications for limited admission as house counsel are paper forms, submitted via postal mail to the WSBA.  House counsel may continue to practice on a temporary basis under RPC 5.5 pending the application for admission.

Questions about practice as House Counsel in Washington should be directed to admissions@wsba.org or 206-727-8209.

Frequently Asked Questions about House Counsel

Should I seek to be admitted by motion or should I apply for limited admission as house counsel?

If you are employed as house counsel in Washington State, you can choose between applying for the limited license or for full admission by way of Admission by Motion. 

The WSBA encourages attorneys licensed in another U.S. state or territory and who have active legal experience* for three of the past five years to apply for Admission by Motion. Attorneys who are admitted by motion are fully licensed members of the WSBA and are authorized to fully practice law and appear in Washington state courts. Attorneys admitted under APR 8(f) as house counsel are strictly limited to providing advice to their employer-client and cannot appear in court, but still must abide by the same MCLE requirements and license fees as fully licensed members. Additionally, if an attorney licensed as house counsel under APR 8(f) applies for full admission by motion, they will have to pay all of the same application fees again. 

  • *Active legal experience is defined in APR 3 as experience either in the active practice of law, or as a teacher at an approved law school, or as a judge of a court of general or appellate jurisdiction, or any combination thereof, in a state or territory of the United States or in the District of Columbia or in any jurisdiction where the common law of England is the basis of its jurisprudence.

What's the difference between applying for admission by motion or for limited admission as House Counsel?

  • The Admission by Motion application is online. The application for limited admission as House Counsel is paper and must be mailed or hand-delivered. 
  • All applicants for Admission by Motion must take the Washington Law Component (WLC), a 60-question online test that can be taken at any time after submitting an application. The WSBA provides a large outline in PDF format that applicants can review before or during the WLC. All of the questions are drawn from material in the outline. The WLC can be retaken as often as necessary until an 80% passing score is achieved. The WLC can be taken anywhere you have an internet connection and a computer, at any time of day. House Counsel applicants do not have to take this test. 

Can I provide pro bono services if I am licensed as House Counsel? 

Yes, but only through a Qualified Legal Services Provider. Review APR 8(f)(8) for restrictions and guidelines regarding your scope of practice when providing pro bono services. 

House Counsel Application Process

If you are not eligible for Admission by Motion, you can apply for limited admission as house counsel under APR 8(f). Submit the paper application to the WSBA, and include the following items:

  • 3 Authorization and Release Forms, signed and notarized within the last nine months
  • Certificate(s) of Admission to Practice and Standing in all jurisdictions where you are admitted
  • $620 application fee (Checks payable to the Washington State Bar Association)

In addition, you will need to submit an investigation fee to the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE). 

Multijurisdictional Practice of Law

RPC 5.5 also describes several situations in which it may be permissible to practice law in Washington on a temporary basis. Generally, the situations are limited to practice out of court. Under most situations, an out-of-state lawyer wanting to appear in court is going to be required to file a motion for admission pro hac vice.

Out-of-state lawyers with questions about practicing in Washington under RPC 5.5 should contact Sandra Schilling in the Office of General Counsel at sandras@wsba.org or 206-239-2118. Please read the complete rule and comments before making contact.

Any discrepancy or conflict between the information provided here and the rules and regulations set by the Washington State Supreme Court, or the bylaws and policies of the Washington State Bar Association, is unintentional and will be resolved in favor of strict compliance with the rules, regulations, bylaws and policies.

House Counsel Application

Download the House Counsel Application.