84-24. Admission to practice.

For the purpose of examining applicants and providing rules and regulations for admission to the Bar including the issuance of license therefor, there is hereby created the Board of Law Examiners, which shall consist of 11 members of the Bar, elected by the Council, who need not be members of the Council. No teacher in any law school, however, shall be eligible. The members of the Board of Law Examiners elected from the Bar shall each hold office for a term of three years.

The Board of Law Examiners shall elect a member of the Board as chair thereof, and the Board may employ an executive secretary and provide such assistance as may be required to enable the Board to perform its duties promptly and properly. The chair and any employees shall serve for a period of time determined by the Board.

The examination shall be held in the manner and at the times as the Board of Law Examiners may determine.

The Board of Law Examiners shall have full power and authority to make or cause to be made such examinations and investigations as may be deemed by it necessary to satisfy it that the applicants for admission to the Bar possess the qualifications of character and general fitness requisite for an attorney and counselor-at-law and to this end the Board of Law Examiners shall have the power of subpoena and to summons and examine witnesses under oath and to compel their attendance and the production of books, papers and other documents and writings deemed by it to be necessary or material to the inquiry and shall also have authority to employ and provide assistance as may be required to enable it to perform its duties promptly and properly. Records, papers, and other documents containing information collected and compiled by the Board or its members or employees as a result of investigations, inquiries, or interviews conducted in connection with examinations or licensing matters, are not public records within the meaning of Chapter 132 of the General Statutes.

All applicants for admission to the Bar shall be fingerprinted to determine whether the applicant has a record of criminal conviction in this State or in any other state or jurisdiction. The information obtained as a result of the fingerprinting of an applicant shall be limited to the official use of the Board of Law Examiners in determining the character and general fitness of the applicant.

The Department of Public Safety may provide a criminal record check to the Board of Law Examiners for a person who has applied for a license through the Board. The Board shall provide to the Department of Public Safety, along with the request, the fingerprints of the applicant, any additional information required by the Department of Public Safety, and a form signed by the applicant consenting to the check of the criminal record and to the use of the fingerprints and other identifying information required by the State or national repositories. The applicant's fingerprints shall be forwarded to the State Bureau of Investigation for a search of the State's criminal history record file, and the State Bureau of Investigation shall forward a set of the fingerprints to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for a national criminal history check. The Board shall keep all information pursuant to this subsection privileged, in accordance with applicable State law and federal guidelines, and the information shall be confidential and shall not be a public record under Chapter 132 of the General Statutes.

The Department of Public Safety may charge each applicant a fee for conducting the checks of criminal history records authorized by this section.

The Board of Law Examiners, subject to the approval of the Council, shall by majority vote, from time to time, make, alter, and amend such rules and regulations for admission to the Bar as in their judgment shall promote the welfare of the State and the profession: Provided, that no change in the educational requirements for admission to the Bar that establishes an additional or greater requirement shall become effective until two years after the date of the adoption of the change.

All rules and regulations, and modifications, alterations and amendments thereof, shall be recorded and promulgated as provided in G.S. 84-21 in relation to the certificate of organization and the rules and regulations of the Council.

Whenever the Council shall order the restoration of license to any person as authorized by G.S. 84-32, it shall be the duty of the Board of Law Examiners to issue a written license to the person, noting thereon that the license is issued in compliance with an order of the Council, whether the license to practice law was issued by the Board of Law Examiners or the Supreme Court in the first instance.

Appeals from the Board shall be had in accordance with rules or procedures as may be approved by the Supreme Court as may be submitted under G.S. 84-21 or as may be promulgated by the Supreme Court. (1933, c. 210, s. 10; c. 331; 1935, cc. 33, 61; 1941, c. 344, s. 6; 1947, c. 77; 1951, c. 991, s. 1; 1953, c. 1012; 1965, cc. 65, 725; 1973, c. 13; 1977, c. 841, s. 2; 1983, c. 177; 1991, c. 210, s. 4; 1995, c. 431, s. 17; 2002-147, s. 5; 2014-100, s. 17.1(o); 2015-264, s. 47.)