Except as provided in section 7-101.01, no person shall practice as an attorney or counselor at law, or commence, conduct or defend any action or proceeding to which he is not a party, either by using or subscribing his own name, or the name of any other person, or by drawing pleadings or other papers to be signed and filed by a party, in any court of record of this state, unless he has been previously admitted to the bar by order of the Supreme Court of this state. No such paper shall be received or filed in any action or proceeding unless the same bears the endorsement of some admitted attorney, or is drawn, signed, and presented by a party to the action or proceeding. It is hereby made the duty of the judges of such courts to enforce this prohibition. Any person who shall violate any of the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a Class III misdemeanor, but this section shall not apply to persons admitted to the bar under preexisting laws.
The Supreme Court may by rule or order authorize students pursuing a course in instruction in a law school in the State of Nebraska and who have successfully completed their junior year of instruction which students when graduated are eligible to take the examination for admission to the bar of this state to practice as attorneys or counselors at law upon such terms and conditions, and with such supervision, as the Supreme Court may prescribe.
(1) Admission to the Nebraska bar shall be governed by admission standards and procedures established by rules adopted by the Supreme Court. Such standards may include, without limitation, educational requirements, character and fitness standards, and satisfactory performance on a bar examination testing the applicant's knowledge of such legal principles as the court may determine. No person shall be admitted to the Nebraska bar, nor permitted to retain such admittance, unless it is shown to the satisfaction of the Supreme Court that such person is of good moral character. The Supreme Court may appoint a bar commission, designated as the Nebraska State Bar Commission, composed of not less than six persons learned in the law to assist in or conduct any bar examination and, by rule of court, to assist the Supreme Court in matters pertaining to bar admission.
(2) The application for admission to the bar shall include the applicant's social security number. Each applicant shall submit to the bar commission with the application for admission a complete set of his or her legible fingerprints along with written permission authorizing the set of fingerprints to be forwarded to the Identification Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, through the Nebraska State Patrol. Upon request by the bar commission, the Nebraska State Patrol shall undertake a search for criminal history record information relating to the applicant, including transmittal of the applicant's fingerprints to the Identification Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation for a national criminal history record information check. The criminal history record information check shall include information concerning the applicant from federal repositories of such information and repositories of such information in other states if authorized by federal law. The Nebraska State Patrol shall issue a report to the bar commission and to the applicant which includes the criminal history record information concerning the applicant. The fingerprint record check provided for in this subsection shall be solely for the purpose of evaluating and confirming information provided by the applicant for admission, except that if the applicant appeals a denial of admission to the bar or a refusal of permission to take the bar examination, the filing of such an appeal with the Supreme Court shall constitute a release of the information obtained from such a fingerprint record check for purposes of the appeal.
Any regularly admitted practicing attorney in the courts of record of another state or territory, having professional business in the courts of record of this state may, on motion, be admitted to practice for the purpose of said business only in any of said courts upon taking the oath as required by section 7-104, and upon it being made to appear to the court by a written showing filed therein that he has associated and appearing with him in the action an attorney who is a resident of Nebraska duly and regularly admitted to practice in the courts of record of this state upon whom service may be had in all matters connected with said action with the same effect as if personally made on such foreign attorney within this state; Provided, regularly licensed practicing attorneys of other states, the laws of which states permit the practice in its courts of attorneys from this state without a local attorney being associated with such attorney, shall not be required to comply with the provisions of this section.
Every attorney upon being admitted to practice in the Supreme Court or district courts of this state, shall take and subscribe an oath substantially in the following form: You do solemnly swear that you will support the Constitution of the United States, and the Constitution of this state, and that you will faithfully discharge the duties of an attorney and counselor, according to the best of your ability.
It is the duty of an attorney and counselor: (1) To maintain the respect due to the courts of justice and to judicial officers; (2) to counsel or maintain no other actions, proceedings or defenses than those which appear to him legal and just, except the defense of a person charged with a public offense; (3) to employ, for the purpose of maintaining the cause confided to him, such means only as are consistent with the truth; (4) to maintain inviolate the confidence, and, at any peril to himself, to preserve the secrets of his clients; (5) to abstain from all offensive practices and to advise no fact prejudicial to the honor or reputation of a party or witness, unless required by the justice of the cause with which he is charged; (6) not to encourage the commencement or continuance of an action or proceeding from any motive of passion or interest.
An attorney and counselor who is guilty of deceit or collusion, or consents thereto, with intent to deceive a court, or judge, or a party to an action or proceeding, is liable to be disbarred.
An attorney or counselor has power: (1) To execute, in the name of his client, a bond for an appeal, certiorari, writ of error, or any other paper necessary and proper for the prosecution of a suit already commenced; (2) to bind his client by his agreement in respect to any proceeding within the scope of his proper duties and powers; but no evidence of any such agreement is receivable except the statement of the attorney himself, his written agreement signed and filed with the clerk, or an entry thereof upon the records of the court; (3) to receive money claimed by his client, in an action or proceeding, during the pendency thereof or afterwards, unless he has been previously discharged by his client, and upon payment thereof, and not otherwise, to discharge the claim or acknowledge satisfaction of the judgment.
An attorney has a lien for a general balance of compensation upon any papers of his client which have come into his possession in the course of his professional employment; and upon money in his hands belonging to his client, and in the hands of the adverse party in an action or proceeding in which the attorney was employed from the time of giving notice of the lien to that party.
Any person producing a license, or other satisfactory voucher, proving either that he has been regularly admitted an attorney at law in the courts of record of any state where the requirements for admission when he was admitted were equal to those prescribed in this state, or so proving that he has practiced law five full years in courts of record under license in any state, and proving also that he is a person of good moral character, may be admitted by the Supreme Court to the bar in this state without examination.
Plaintiffs shall have the liberty of prosecuting, and defendants shall have the liberty of defending, in their proper persons.
No person shall be permitted to practice as an attorney in any of the courts of this state while holding the office of judge of the Supreme Court, Clerk of the Supreme Court, judge of the Court of Appeals, judge of the district court, judge of the Nebraska Workers' Compensation Court, or judge of the county court. No sheriff, constable, county clerk, clerk of the district court, or jailer shall practice as an attorney in any court in the county where he or she holds office. Such prohibition shall not apply to acting judges of the Nebraska Workers' Compensation Court appointed under section 48-155.01. An attorney at law who holds the office of clerk magistrate shall not be permitted to practice as an attorney in any action, matter, or proceeding brought before himself or herself or appealed from his or her decision to a higher court, nor shall any county judge draw any paper or written instrument to be filed in his or her own court except such as he or she is required by law to draw. No clerk magistrate shall draw any paper or written instrument in any matter assigned to him or her except such as he or she is required by law to draw. Any person who violates any of the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a Class V misdemeanor.
Upon filing original papers in any case, it shall be the duty of an attorney to endorse thereon his name.
It shall be the duty of every attorney to act as the guardian of a minor or incompetent defendant in any suit pending against him when appointed for that purpose by an order of the court. He shall prepare himself to make the proper defense, to guard the rights of such defendant, and shall be entitled to such compensation as the court shall deem reasonable.
In all proceedings instituted for the suspension, censure, or disbarment of attorneys at law, and in all contempt proceedings, the court costs shall be taxed as the court shall deem equitable.
As used in sections 7-114 to 7-116, unless the context otherwise requires, court costs shall be deemed to include, but not be limited to: (1) Costs and fees otherwise authorized by statute; (2) all costs and expenses approved by the court which are incurred by reason of reference of the matter to a referee for the taking of testimony in accordance with the rules of the Supreme Court; and (3) all necessary costs and expenses incurred in investigation and preparation of charges leading to the institution of proceedings for suspension, censure, or disbarment, or all necessary costs and expenses incurred by the respondent in defending against such proceedings; Provided, the costs and expenses referred to in subdivision (3) shall be claimed by the successful party in the proceeding within thirty days after final disposition of the charges, after which the losing party shall have fifteen days in which to prepare and submit to the court objections to all or any part of such claim, whereupon the court without further hearing shall allow or disallow all or any part of such claim as costs, in its discretion.
Judgments for costs herein provided for may be filed in the district court of any county in this state, and shall thereupon become a lien and be enforceable in such county in the same manner as other money judgments.
The Legislature finds that many attorneys graduate from law school with substantial educational debt that prohibits many from considering public legal service work or work in less-populated rural areas of Nebraska. A need exists for public legal service entities and rural clients to hire competent attorneys. The public is better served by competent and qualified attorneys working in the area of public legal service and serving underserved rural areas. Programs providing educational loan repayment assistance will encourage law students and other attorneys to seek employment in the area of public legal service and in designated legal profession shortage areas in rural Nebraska and will enable public legal service entities and rural communities to attract and retain qualified attorneys.
For purposes of the Legal Education for Public Service and Rural Practice Loan Repayment Assistance Act:
(1) Board means the Legal Education for Public Service and Rural Practice Loan Repayment Assistance Board;
(2) Designated legal profession shortage area means a rural area located within any county in Nebraska having a population of less than fifteen thousand inhabitants and not included within a metropolitan statistical area as defined by the United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, and determined by the board to be underserved by available legal representation;
(3) Educational loans means loans received as an educational benefit, scholarship, or stipend toward a juris doctorate degree and either (a) made, insured, or guaranteed by a governmental unit or (b) made under a program funded in whole or in part by a governmental unit or nonprofit institution; and
(4) Public legal service means providing legal service to indigent persons while employed by a tax-exempt charitable organization.
The Legal Education for Public Service and Rural Practice Loan Repayment Assistance Board is created. The board shall consist of the director of Legal Aid of Nebraska, the deans of Creighton School of Law and the University of Nebraska College of Law, a student from each law school selected by the dean of the law school, at least one of whom intends to work for a tax-exempt charitable organization primarily doing public legal service and at least one of whom is from or intends to practice in a designated legal profession shortage area, a member of the Nebraska State Bar Association who practices in a designated legal profession shortage area selected by the president of the association, and the chief counsel of the Commission on Public Advocacy.
The board shall select one of its members to be chairperson. The board shall meet as necessary to carry out its duties, but shall meet at least annually. The members shall serve without compensation but shall be reimbursed for their actual and necessary expenses as provided in sections 81-1174 to 81-1177.
The board shall develop and recommend to the Commission on Public Advocacy rules and regulations that will govern the legal education for public legal service and rural practice loan repayment assistance program. The rules and regulations shall include:
(1) Recipients shall be either: (a) Full-time, salaried attorneys working for a tax-exempt charitable organization and whose primary duties are public legal service or (b) full-time attorneys primarily serving in a designated legal profession shortage area;
(2) Loan applicants shall pay an application fee established by the rules and regulations at a level anticipated to cover all or most of the administrative costs of the program. All application fees shall be remitted to the State Treasurer for credit to the Legal Education for Public Service and Rural Practice Loan Repayment Assistance Fund. Every effort shall be made to minimize administrative costs and the application fee;
(3) The maximum annual loan amount, which initially shall not exceed six thousand dollars per year per recipient, shall be an amount which is sufficient to fulfill the purposes of recruiting and retaining public legal service attorneys in occupations and areas with unmet needs, including public legal service attorneys with skills in languages other than English and attorneys committed to working in designated legal profession shortage areas. The board may recommend adjustments of the loan amount annually to the commission to account for inflation and other relevant factors;
(4) Loans shall be made only to refinance existing educational loans;
(5) Information on the potential tax consequences of income from discharge of indebtedness;
(6) Recipients shall agree to practice the equivalent of at least three years of full-time practice in public legal service or a designated legal profession shortage area; and
(7) Other criteria for loan eligibility, application, payment, and repayment assistance necessary to carry out the purposes of the Legal Education for Public Service and Rural Practice Loan Repayment Assistance Act.
The Commission on Public Advocacy shall accept applications for loan repayment assistance on an annual basis from qualified persons and shall present those applications to the board for its consideration. The board shall make recommendations for loans to the commission, and the commission shall certify the eligible recipients and the loan amount per recipient. The loans awarded to the recipients shall come from funds appropriated by the Legislature and any other funds that may be available from the Legal Education for Public Service and Rural Practice Loan Repayment Assistance Fund.
The Commission on Public Advocacy may solicit and receive donations from law schools, corporations, nonprofit organizations, bar associations, bar foundations, law firms, individuals, or other sources for purposes of the Legal Education for Public Service and Rural Practice Loan Repayment Assistance Act. The donations shall be remitted to the State Treasurer for credit to the Legal Education for Public Service and Rural Practice Loan Repayment Assistance Fund.
The Legal Education for Public Service and Rural Practice Loan Repayment Assistance Fund is created. The fund shall consist of funds appropriated or transferred by the Legislature, funds donated to the legal education for public legal service and rural practice loan repayment assistance program pursuant to section 7-208, and application fees collected under the Legal Education for Public Service and Rural Practice Loan Repayment Assistance Act. Any money in the Legal Education for Public Service Loan Repayment Fund on July 18, 2014, shall be transferred to the Legal Education for Public Service and Rural Practice Loan Repayment Assistance Fund. Any money in the fund available for investment shall be invested by the state investment officer pursuant to the Nebraska Capital Expansion Act and the Nebraska State Funds Investment Act.
The Commission on Public Advocacy shall periodically determine and identify designated legal profession shortage areas within Nebraska. The board shall develop and recommend to the commission legal profession shortage areas. In making such recommendations, the board shall consider, after consultation with other appropriate agencies concerned with legal and rural services and with appropriate professional organizations, factors including, but not limited to:
(1) The latest reliable statistical data available regarding the number of attorneys practicing in an area and the population served by such attorneys;
(2) Distances between client populations and attorney locations;
(3) Particular local needs for legal services;
(4) Capacity of local attorneys providing services and scope of practice being provided; and
(5) Past and future demographic trends in an area.