Emeritus Pro Bono Membership and Return to Active Membership

Admission and Practice Rule (APR) 8(e) provides for a limited license for lawyers who are not currently practicing law to practice on a volunteer basis for Qualified Legal Services Providers (QLSP). WSBA members who are Emeritus Pro Bono members cannot practice law outside of providing free legal services through their supervising QLSP.

Note: Emeritus Pro Bono Membership is not the equivalent of Honorary Membership, nor is it similar to the “retired” status that other jurisdictions may offer. Emeritus Pro Bono members continue to pay the same annual license fee as Inactive members.

Eligibility
How To Apply
Frequently Asked Questions
Returning to Active Membership

 

Eligibility

To qualify for Emeritus Pro Bono membership, you must have the following:

  • Proof of admission by examination to the practice of law and current good standing in any state or territory of the United States or the District of Columbia; AND
  • (for lawyers admitted in Washington) Active legal experience as defined in APR 3(b) for at least 5 of the 10 years immediately preceding the filing of the application; OR
  • (for lawyers not admitted in Washington) Active legal experience for at least 10 of the 15 years immediately preceding the filing of the application

If you have a disciplinary sanction imposed on you within 15 years immediately preceding the filing of the application for Emeritus Pro Bono membership, the Board of Governors shall have the discretion to accept or reject the application.

 

How to Apply

The application process is different for WSBA members than it is for non-WSBA members.

WSBA Members

  1. Review, print, and complete the Application for Emeritus Pro Bono Membership, including the page that should be filled out by your QLSP. Include payment if you have not already paid your license fee for the year.
  2. WSBA staff will review your application, and when appropriate, confirm that you meet the eligibility requirements and send you a letter detailing the Training Certification requirement.
  3. Complete the Training Certification and send the appropriate form back to WSBA.
  4. WSBA will complete the change to Emeritus Pro Bono membership in its records and mail you an Emeritus Pro Bono ID card.

Non-Members

  1. Contact Membership Changes for a non-member Emeritus Pro Bono application packet at membershipchanges@wsba.org or (206) 239-2131.
  2. Upon receipt of the application packet, complete all required parts. In addition, you will need to use a special form (included with the application) to submit a fee to the National Conference of Bar Examiners for a background investigation. Submit the application to the WSBA and submit the NCBE background investigation fee directly to the NCBE.  Other than the NCBE investigation fee, there is no application fee.
  3. WSBA staff will review your application and the results of the NCBE background investigation. NCBE investigations can take up to 16-22 weeks. When appropriate, WSBA staff will confirm you meet eligibility requirements and send you a letter detailing the Training Certification requirement.
  4. Complete the Training Certification and send the appropriate form back to the WSBA.
  5. WSBA will complete the change to Emeritus Pro Bono membership in its records and mail you an Emeritus Pro Bono ID card.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if I want to switch QLSP’s?

You must notify the WSBA and coordinate the change to a new QLSP with our office. Do not engage in the practice of law until you receive approval and a new ID card for your new QLSP. Contact WSBA via membershipchanges@wsba.org.

I want to switch to Emeritus Pro Bono but I don’t know which QLSP to work with.

Contact WSBA at publicservice@wsba.org. We will put you in touch with our Public Service Programs Manager, who can connect you with an organization that meets your needs.

How do I get my organization listed as a QLSP?

Contact WSBA at publicservice@wsba.org for information on whether your organization is eligible to be a QLSP.

I am no longer practicing with my Emeritus Pro Bono license. What do I do?

Notify WSBA at membershipchanges@wsba.org. Your license must be terminated immediately. If you are a WSBA member, we will transfer you to Inactive membership, and you can decide whether to return to Active or to pursue another option.
If you are a non-member, your license is terminated. If you wish to otherwise practice law, you will need to apply under another appropriate limited license or for full admission.

 

Return to Active Membership From Emeritus Pro Bono

In order for an Emeritus Pro Bono member to return to Active membership, you must be current on MCLE requirements, annual licensing fees, and all conditions set forth in the WSBA Bylaws and the Admission and Practice Rules (APR).

Submit a Request for Application to Active Membership form with the required non-refundable $100 investigation fee so that we may determine your eligibility and requirements to return to Active membership. A form is also available from the WSBA by sending an email to membershipchanges@wsba.org or by contacting Membership Changes at 206-239-2131.

Following receipt and processing of the required fee and request form, we will provide you with the necessary forms and individual requirements to return to Active membership. Because the requirements for each particular membership change are based on the facts of the individual member's situation and require investigation of that member's records, the WSBA cannot assess or discuss individual requirements prior to receiving the Request for Application to Active Membership form and the investigation fee.

All membership changes to Active require a review of the information for possible character and fitness issues, and it is possible that a character and fitness investigation and/or hearing could be required if warranted by the available information.
Processing times for membership changes to Active vary greatly depending on each individual situation and time of year. Membership changes are not effective until confirmed in writing by the WSBA.

General Requirements to Return To Active Membership from Emeritus Pro Bono

Membership changes are granted in accordance with the provisions of the WSBA Bylaws. Members should review Article III of the WSBA Bylaws as changes in the Bylaws can affect membership change requirements. Some key provisions to consider are:

  • Emeritus Pro Bono members are not required to earn or report MCLE credits while Emeritus Pro Bono, but may choose to do so, and will be required to do so to return to Active membership.
  • Emeritus Pro Bono members who have been Emeritus Pro Bono for less than six consecutive years will be required to have earned 45 MCLE credits within six years prior to the return to Active.
  • Emeritus Pro Bono members who have been Emeritus Pro Bono for greater than six consecutive years must earn 45 MCLE credits within three years prior to the return to Active date and, in addition, complete 15 hours of live reinstatement courses sponsored by the WSBA and specifically approved for this purpose. The reinstatement course’s validity for use to satisfy membership change requirements will expire one year from the date of the completion of the course. The reinstatement course credits will apply to the member’s next reporting period.
  • For purposes of determining whether a member has been Emeritus Pro Bono for more than six consecutive years, the time continues to run until the change to Active membership is completed, regardless of when the application is submitted to the WSBA.
  • If a member has been Emeritus Pro Bono for less than one year, and the member is in an MCLE reporting group that was required to report during the time the member was Emeritus Pro Bono, the member must establish compliance with the MCLE reporting requirements for that reporting period before changing to Active.
  • Emeritus Pro Bono members must pay a non-refundable $100 fee and submit a Request for Application to Active form. Upon receipt, an application packet with the member’s detailed requirements for returning to Active will be provided to the member.
  • The Bar exam may be required in unusual cases, e.g., reason to suspect inability to practice or a lack of  “active legal experience” (as defined in APR 3(b)(iii)) for an extended period of time.

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.

To Apply for Emeritus

Application form (WSBA members only)
Application to Emeritus

Qualified Legal Services Provider List 

A training certification form will be provided upon receipt of a qualifying application. Training consists of completing 6 hours of online and/or live training and orientation with your qualified legal services provider.