SEATTLE – Former Republican congressman Rick White, one of three candidates the Republicans have submitted to replace John McKay as U.S. attorney for Western Washington, cannot practice law in the state.
White’s license was suspended by the state Supreme Court in August 2003 for failing to pay his bar dues. He was reinstated to the bar in 2005 after paying a small fee, but currently holds an “inactive” status.
White said late Friday that he was working toward reactivating his status as an attorney in the state of Washington. He said he needs to complete about 20 to 30 hours of Continuing Legal Education (CLE) before he can reclaim his license.
“I understand I’m in a bad position,” he said.
White said he let his license lapse because he wasn’t practicing law. With the nomination as a candidate for U.S. attorney, White said, he plans to resume practicing.
To appear as a lawyer in federal court – which U.S. attorneys regularly do – White has to be a licensed lawyer in a state, have a local lawyer sponsor him, submit an application and be approved by a federal judge, said Janet Bubnis, the chief deputy clerk in the U.S. District Court for Western Washington.
If appointed, White said, he intends to complete most of his CLE requirements at the U.S. Attorney’s National Advocacy Center in South Carolina.
Washington State Bar spokeswoman Judy Berrett said White cannot practice law in Washington until he pays his full bar dues, about $390, and demonstrates that he is current on CLE classes.
The bar requires that every attorney complete a minimum of 45 hours of CLE classes every three years. Berrett declined to say whether White was current on his CLEs or whether he had contacted the bar and asked to be reinstated to “active” status. Berrett said it is “very common” for lawyers to “switch back and forth between active and inactive status.”
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