CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey's new solicitor general doesn't have a license to practice law in West Virginia.
Elbert Lin, a former Washington, D.C.-based lawyer who joined Morrisey's senior staff last week, apparently hasn't yet applied for a West Virginia law license - a process that typically takes three to five months. He must first pass a professional conduct exam, which he plans to take in April, before he can formally apply for a West Virginia law license.
Morrisey's office said Lin was "in the process of applying" for a license, but wouldn't say whether he submitted an application.
Meantime, Morrisey has changed Lin's title from solicitor general to "senior assistant to the attorney general," according to state payroll forms.
Lin makes $132,000 a year.
"Mr. Lin's title as senior assistant to the attorney general is intended to avoid any implication that he is holding himself out in a representative capacity," Morrisey's spokeswoman, Beth Ryan, said Thursday.
Until Lin receives his West Virginia law license, he won't be allowed to appear before a court of law and sign legal pleadings on behalf of the attorney general's office, Ryan said. The only exception: Lin could be admitted to appear in court on a particular matter "pro hac vice," which requires special permission from a judge.
The West Virginia Board of Law Examiners will review Lin's application when he applies for a license. The state Supreme Court also must approve it.
"Our applications are confidential," said Madeleine J. Nibert, the state's bar admissions administrator. "Once they're admitted to practice law in West Virginia, the approval of their application becomes a public record."
Lin has licenses to practice law in Massachusetts and the District of Columbia. West Virginia's board has law license reciprocity agreements with both states.
However, Lin must pass a "multi-state professional responsibility exam" on lawyers' professional conduct. Lin has registered for the April test.
"Mr. Lin is in the process of seeking reciprocity licensure ..." Ryan said. "Until such time as that process is completed, we have implemented internal controls with respect to Mr. Lin that are consistent with those of similarly situated attorneys hired from out of state and employed by private law firms in West Virginia."