In December 2008, we were contacted by a senior staff attorney at a local non-profit, North Carolina Institute for Constitutional Law (NCICL) (Justice Bob Orr’s group) after the North Carolina Attorney General’s office filed a motion to disqualify NCICL as counsel in a case that NCICL filed on behalf of for-profit medical providers. In the motion, the AG argued that NCICL cannot appear as counsel in the case as a result of N.C. Gen. Stat. § 84-5, which prohibits the practice of law by corporations in this State. The only statutory exception to N.C. GEN. STAT. § 84-5 was contained in N.C. GEN. STAT. § 84-5.1 which permitted nonprofit corporations organized pursuant to Chapter 55A for the exclusive purpose of providing indigent legal services to render such services. Consequently, Assistant Attorney General Mark Davis contended that § 84-5.1 did not apply to NCICL because (a) the Institute is not organized for the sole purpose of rendering indigent legal services; and (b) the Plaintiffs in this action are for-profit entities that have previously retained private counsel in this action. NCICL reached out to several NC and national non-profits, including ACLU-NC, asking that we submit a joint amicus brief in opposition to the State’s motion to disqualify. On December 30, 2008, the Legal Committee voted to join other non-profits in submitting such a brief, since an adverse ruling could potentially impact all non-profits representing non-indigent clients in NC, including ACLU-NCLF. The brief was filed on Friday, January 16, 2009. A hearing on the Motion to Disqualify was held on January 23, 2009. At the hearing, Judge Manning denied the motion to disqualify. However, rather than reaching the First Amendment argument that we advanced in our amicus brief, Judge Manning concluded that corporations and their employees can make any agreements they want with regard to whether the employee attorneys may represent outside parties – that is, if the corporation is okay with the attorney representing third parties, then so be it. However, Judge Manning agreed with the AG’s office that corporations themselves cannot practice law. This conclusion posed problems with regard to a non-profit’s ability to advertise its sponsorship of a case, as well with as with regarding liability insurance issues. Consequently, the coalition sought a legislative solution and was successful in getting a bill passed and signed by the Governor that protects a non-profit’s right to practice law in North Carolina. The Governor signed the bill into law on June 24, 2009.