Written by attorney Robert S. Bennett

What A Probated Texas Law License Means

The Texas Board of Law Examiners (“BLE") may grant applicants a probationary license under the Rules Governing Admission to the Bar of Texas Rule XVI.

Rules Governing Admission to the Bar of Texas Rule XVI:

(a) The Board shall have the authority to grant conditional approval of the present good moral character and fitness of an Applicant and to recommend the granting of a Probationary License, after the Applicant meets all other requirements under these Rules, in the following circumstances: (1) when the Board determines that the Applicant suffers from chemical dependency or has been convicted of, or is on probation for, a first offense of driving while intoxicated under Texas Penal Code §49.04; or (2) in other circumstances in which, on the record before it, the Board determines that the protection of the public requires the temporary monitoring of the Applicant in question.

(b) The Board shall not have the authority to refuse to recommend the granting of a Probationary License to an Applicant who has passed the applicable bar examination solely because the Applicant suffers from chemical dependency or has been convicted for a first offense for driving while intoxicated under Texas Penal Code §49.04.

(c) In any order recommending the issuance of a Probationary License to practice law, the Board shall specify the conditions of the license, which may include, but are not limited to, the following: (1) prohibiting the use of alcohol or controlled substances; (2) requiring treatment for chemical dependency; (3) requiring the individual to practice law under the supervision of an attorney admitted to the Texas Bar; (4) requiring submission to periodic, random drug testing; (5) requiring the individual to report periodically to the Board; (6) requiring suspension, for any portion of the probationary period, of an activity for which a license to practice law is required; (7) requiring the individual to reside continuously in Texas during the period of the Probationary License, unless for good cause shown, the Board waives such requirement; or (8) requiring the individual to take specific actions designed to cure or end any deficiencies in his or her moral character and fitness, as determined by the Board.

(d) Probationary Licenses shall expire as follows: (1) A Probationary License issued solely because of the Board’s determination that the individual suffers from chemical dependency shall expire on the second anniversary of the date on which it is issued, unless temporarily extended hereunder. (2) Any other Probationary License shall expire on the date specified by the Board in the Order recommending issuance of the Probationary License, unless temporarily extended hereunder. (3) The term of a Probationary License may be temporarily extended, upon the request of the Probationary Licensee, in the event that the normal expiration date falls before the Board has had the opportunity to make a redetermination as provided hereunder.

(e) A Probationary Licensee may apply for a renewal of the Probationary License or for a regular license to practice law, by filing a written request and a Supplemental Investigation Form and the requisite fees, at least sixty (60) days prior to the expiration date of the Probationary License.

(f) The Board shall require any Probationary Licensee issued a Probationary License because of a determination of chemical dependency, prior to the redetermination hearing, to submit to an evaluation, at the sole cost of the Probationary Licensee, by a treatment facility approved by the Board.

(g) After a hearing held subject to the provisions of Rule XV herein on the redetermination of the character and fitness of a Probationary Licensee, the Board may: (1) recommend, upon a finding of the requisite good moral character and fitness, the issuance of a regular license to practice law in Texas; provided, however, that in any case in which a Probationary License was issued on the basis of chemical dependency, the Board shall not recommend the Probationary Licensee for regular admission until the Board finds that the Probationary Licensee has successfully completed treatment and has been free from chemical dependency for the preceding two years; (2) recommend, upon a finding that a condition of the Probationary License has been violated: (A) extension of the Probationary License; or (B) termination or immediate revocation of the Probationary License.

(h) The Board shall initiate and maintain a working relationship with the Lawyers Assistance Program or similar program of the State Bar of Texas in order to provide for the evaluation and referral to treatment for those persons issued a Probationary License hereunder. The treatment and professional evaluation shall be at the sole expense of the Probationary Licensee

(i) A person whose Probationary License has been terminated or revoked upon recommendation by the Board must begin the licensure process anew in accordance with the Board order recommending such termination or revocation if the person wishes to attempt re-licensure.

You received a probationary license. Now what?

After the hearing, the applicant must wait for the final Order from the Board. After the Order is received, the applicant may register with the State Bar of Texas. The applicant will not be able to register for the State Bar online. They must submit their notice by mail. The applicant received a State Bar of Texas Registration/Attorney Profile Form with his/her Bar results and this is the form they must submit.

The final Order from the Board will also have varying requirements the applicant must complete. A common requirement is to submit a periodic Probationary License Questionnaire to their licensure analyst. Some people must submit the questionnaire every three months, some every six months. The Board may also require additional Continuing Legal Education courses or if chemical dependency is an issue, evaluations and random drug tests. The terms of each probationary license depend on the applicant’s unique situation.

Having a probationary license grants an applicant all the powers a regular attorney would have. The only caveat is if someone searches for the applicant’s name on the State Bar website, it will show the status as “Current Member Status: Eligible to Practice Law in Texas with a Probationary License." The Board is prohibited by both statute and Supreme Court rule from providing any information as to why someone has a probationary license.

Prior to ninety (90) days from the end of the probationary period, the applicant must request a probationary license renewal/conversion to regular license packet. The applicant must submit this packet to the Board no later than sixty (60) days prior to the expiration of the probationary license.

Upon successful completion of the probationary period and a properly completed conversion packet, the applicant will receive a full license and the status on the State Bar website will be changed.

Failure to comply with probation

If the applicant does not successfully complete the terms of probation, the Board has the authority to revoke the probationary license, which also constitutes a revocation of the conditional approval of applicant’s present good moral character and fitness. This revocation makes the Board believe the applicant lacks trustworthiness in carrying out responsibilities, making it likely that applicant would injure a client, obstruct the administration of justice, or violate the disciplinary rules of professional conduct. This means you cannot become licensed and cannot practice law.

The applicant would then have to wait – how long depends on the offense -- to have another hearing to again determine if they are of good moral character and fitness and go through the process again. The Board may even require the applicant re-take the bar exam.

If your probationary license is revoked, you will have wasted all the time, stress, effort and especially money to complete law school for nothing. In one probation revocation, in which Mr. Bennett testified as an expert, the Board decided the applicant had to wait five(5) years to reapply and had to take the bar exam again. Reviews for Bob Bennett: The website provides the public with a forum to ask questions, write reviews, endorsements, and research a lawyer’s credibility and expertise. You can find them yourself on the profile for Robert S. Bennett of Houston, Texas.

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