The Florida Bar


The purpose of this chapter is to facilitate the relocation of persons employed by or to be employed by any business organization, as herein defined, for the purpose of undertaking, in whole or in part, activities, as herein defined, for such organizations. Notwithstanding the provisions of article I, sections I, Rules of the Supreme Court of Florida Relating to Admissions to the Bar, this chapter shall authorize attorneys licensed to practice in jurisdictions other than Florida to be permitted to undertake said activities in Florida while exclusively employed by a business organization without the requirement of taking the bar examination.


    (a) Authorized House Counsel. An "authorized house counsel" is any person who:
      (1) is a member in good standing of the entity governing the practice of law of each state (other than Florida), territory, or the District of Columbia in which the member is licensed;
      (2) is not subject to a disciplinary proceeding or outstanding order of reprimand, censure or disbarment, permanent or temporary, for professional misconduct by the bar or courts of any jurisdiction at the time of application for registration under this chapter;
      (3) has not been permanently denied admission to practice before the bar of any jurisdiction based upon such person's character or fitness at the time of application for registration under this chapter;
      (4) agrees to abide by the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar (including, without limitation, rules 6-10.1 et seq.) and submit to the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of Florida for disciplinary purposes;
      (5) is, at the date of application for registration under this rule, exclusively employed by a business organization located in the state of Florida or relocating to the state of Florida in furtherance of such employment within 6 months of such application under this chapter and receives or shall receive compensation for activities performed for that business organization;
      (6) has complied with rule 17-1.4.
    (b) Business Organization. A "business organization" for the purpose of this rule is a corporation, partnership, association or other legal entity (taken together with its respective parents, subsidiaries, and affiliates) authorized to transact business in this state that is not itself engaged in the practice of law or the rendering of legal services outside such organization, whether for a fee or otherwise, and does not charge or collect a fee for the representation or advice other than to entities comprising such organization by the activities of the authorized house counsel. For purposes of this rule, a "business organization" does not include a governmental entity, governmental subdivision, political subdivision, school board, or any other entity that has the authority to levy a tax.

    (a) Authorized Activities. An authorized house counsel, as an employee of a business organization, may provide legal services in the state of Florida to the business organization for which a registration pursuant to rule 17-1.4 is effective, provided, however, that such activities shall be limited to:
      (1) the giving of legal advice to the directors, officers, employees, and agents of the business organization with respect to its business and affairs;
      (2) negotiating and documenting all matters for the business organization; and
      (3) representation of the business organization in its dealings with any administrative agency or commission having jurisdiction; provided however, authorized house counsel shall not be permitted to make appearances as counsel in any court, administrative tribunal, agency, or commission situated in the state of Florida unless the rules governing such court or body shall otherwise authorize, or the attorney is specially admitted by such court or body in a case.
    (b) Disclosure. Authorized house counsel, in undertaking legal services permitted pursuant to subdivision 17-1.3(a)(2) or (3), shall disclose their capacity by written or printed communication that shall evidence both the name for the appropriate business organization and the title or function of the authorized house counsel and that they are not licensed to practice in the state of Florida. Such communication shall be transmitted in such manner as reasonably contemplated to create an awareness of the authorized house counsel’s status with respect to the relevant activity. In performing activities under this subdivision, authorized house counsel shall not represent themselves to be members of The Florida Bar licensed to practice law in this state.
    (c) Limitation on Representation. In no event shall the activities permitted hereunder include the individual or personal representation of any shareholder, owner, partner, officer, employee, servant, or agent in any matter or transaction or the giving of advice therefor unless otherwise permitted or authorized by law, code, or rule or as may be permitted by subdivision 17-1.3(a).
    (d) Opinions to Third Parties. An authorized house counsel shall not express or render a legal judgment or opinion to be relied upon by any person or party other than in the course of the authorized house counsel’s representation of the business organization in which the authorized house counsel is employed.

[Revised: 07-01-2005]