PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION RESOLUTION SUPPORTING PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO PENNSYLVANIA BAR ADMISSION RULE 322 REGARDING AUTHORIZED ACTIVITIES OF CERTIFIED LEGAL INTERNS

WHEREAS, Pennsylvania Bar Admission Rule 322 governs the authorized activities of certified legal interns to appeal before courts and governmental units in Pennsylvania; and

WHEREAS, certified legal interns who have completed at least three semesters of law school may participate in legal matters under attorney supervision upon certification by their law school dean as being of good character and competent legal ability; and

WHEREAS, Rule 322 currently permits certified legal interns to appear before and provide oral advocacy in Pennsylvania’s appellate courts when representing the Commonwealth, but does not permit certified legal interns to appear in Pennsylvania’s appellate courts when representing indigent litigants; and

WHEREAS, the Pennsylvania Board of Law Examiners published proposed amendments to Rule 322 on October 5, 2019 permitting certified legal interns to appear in the Commonwealth’s appellate courts on behalf of indigent litigants and requiring that approved supervising attorneys be personally present during any appearance of a certified legal intern; and

WHEREAS, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania entered an order on January 15, 2020 amending Rule 322 to permit appellate practice of certified legal interns on behalf of indigent litigants as proposed by the Pennsylvania Board of Law Examiners; and

WHEREAS, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania stayed its January 15, 2020 order on February 13, 2020 pending further consideration; and

WHEREAS, the Pennsylvania Board of Law Examiners published proposed amendments to Rule 322 on February 13, 2021 permitting appellate practice of certified legal interns on behalf of indigent litigants and providing that an approved supervisor or a licensed attorney employed in the supervisor’s office be personally present during any appearance of a certified legal intern; and

WHEREAS, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania has required that comments to the proposed amendments to Rule 322 be submitted by April 13, 2021; and

WHEREAS, the adoption of proposed amendments to Rule 322 as published by the Board of Law Examiners would equalize the authorized activities of certified legal interns and provide indigent Pennsylvanians with increased access to legal assistance in appellate proceedings that are very difficult to navigate successfully by self represented litigants; and

WHEREAS, the proposed authorization for certified legal interns to appear in appellate courts will help prepare law students for the practice of law, thereby promoting the overall competence of the bar; and

WHEREAS, the proposed authorization for certified legal interns to appear in appellate courts will expand access to justice for indigent litigants who lack access to counsel; and

WHEREAS, the proposed authorization for certified legal interns to appear in appellate courts will assist appellate courts in the fair and orderly adjudication of cases involving pro se appeals; and

WHEREAS, it is well documented that many Pennsylvanians are unable to afford legal counsel and regularly benefit from free legal assistance provided by certified legal interns in trial courts and administrative agencies under the supervision of law faculty and licensed attorneys; and

WHEREAS, law students have demonstrated a proven ability to provide high quality legal representation of indigent litigants in federal appellate courts, such as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit which permits student practice under attorney supervision pursuant to local rule (3d Cir. L.A.R. 46.3); and

WHEREAS, the Philadelphia Bar Association has long been concerned with ensuring the professional excellence of legal advocates and in addressing the unmet legal needs of those who are unable to afford legal representation.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Philadelphia Bar Association supports the proposed amendments to Bar Admission Rule 322 as published by the Board of Law Examiners on February 13, 2021 and respectfully requests that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issue an order adopting amendments to Rule 322 authorizing certified legal interns to appear in Pennsylvania appellate courts on behalf of indigent litigants.

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Chancellor and/or the Chancellor's designee(s) shall provide supportive comments by April 13, 2021 and communicate this position to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, the legal profession and the public, and shall take such other action as may be necessary to effectuate this Resolution.

PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION
BOARD OF GOVERNORS
Adopted: March 25, 2021