Inactive Membership and Return to Active Membership

Change to Inactive or Honorary Status

Inactive members shall not practice law in Washington nor engage in employment or duties in the State of Washington that constitute the practice of law. Inactive members are not eligible to vote in Bar matters, hold office therein, nor serve on any WSBA committee, board, or panel.

Inactive and honorary members may:

  • join WSBA sections as non-voting members if allowed under the section's bylaws. This does not include eligibility to join as voting members.
  • continue their affiliation with the WSBA.
  • change their membership to active pursuant to the WSBA Bylaws.
  • request a free NWLawyer subscription.

The WSBA Bylaws provide for three different types of inactive membership. The two most common types are inactive lawyer and inactive-honorary

Inactive Lawyer

Inactive-lawyer members must pay an annual license fee of $200. These members are not required to earn or report MCLE credits while inactive but may choose to do so and will be required to do so to return to active membership. Before applying for inactive-lawyer membership, members should be familiar with WSBA Bylaws Article III.

Active, judicial, or emeritus/pro-bono members, who are not suspended or disbarred, may apply for inactive-lawyer membership by completing and filing the Application for Change of Membership to Inactive-Lawyer. Applications for inactive membership are generally confirmed within one week of receipt of the application provided the member is eligible and everything is in order.

During annual licensing renewal, as part of the licensing process, members may request online a change of membership to inactive by visiting Online changes to inactive are effective immediately upon payment.

Inactive Honorary

All members who have been active or judicial, or a combination of both, for 50 years may elect to become inactive-honorary members of the Bar. Periods of time on inactive-lawyer or emeritus pro-bono membership, or on any suspension status, will not count towards the 50-year membership total when determining inactive-honorary eligibility.

Inactive-honorary members are not required to pay a license fee or any assessments. A member who otherwise qualifies for inactive-honorary membership but wants to continue to practice law in any manner must be an active member or an emeritus pro-bono member.

To apply for inactive-honorary membership, complete and submit the Application for Change of Membership to Inactive-Honorary. Applications for inactive-honorary membership are generally confirmed within one week of receipt of the application, provided the member is eligible and everything is in order.


Return to Active Membership from Inactive or Honorary Membership

In order for an inactive-lawyer or an inactive-honorary member to return to active membership, that member must be current on MCLE requirements, annual licensing fees, and all conditions set forth in the WSBA Bylaws and the Admission to Practice Rules

To begin the process to become active, please submit a request online or fill out and submit by email the Request for Application to Active form. A form also is available from the WSBA by sending an email to or by calling 206-239-2131.

Following receipt and processing of the required fee, the Bar will provide you with the necessary forms and individual requirements to return to active membership. Because the requirements for any membership change are based on the facts of the individual member's situation and require investigation of that member's records, the WSBA cannot assess or discuss individual requirements prior to receiving the Request for Application to Active Membership form and the investigation fee.

All membership changes to active require a review of the information for possible character and fitness issues, and if warranted a character and fitness investigation or hearing may be required. 

Processing times for membership changes to active vary greatly depending on each individual situation and time of year. Membership changes are not effective until confirmed in writing by the Bar.

Requirements to Return to Active Membership

Membership changes are granted in accordance with the provisions of the WSBA Bylaws. Members should review Article III of the WSBA Bylaws as changes in the Bylaws can affect membership change requirements. Some key provisions to consider:

  • Inactive or honorary members are not required to earn or report MCLE credits while inactive. Members may attend CLE courses while inactive or honorary, and will be required to report MCLE credits to return to active membership.
  • Members who have been inactive, honorary, or suspended for a combined total of less than six consecutive years will be required to have earned 45 MCLE credits within six years prior to the return to Active date.
  • Members who have been Inactive, Honorary, and/or suspended for greater than a combined total of six consecutive years must earn 45 MCLE credits within three years prior to the return to Active date and, in addition, complete the 15 hour “live” credit course sponsored by the WSBA and specifically approved for this purpose. No other credits, or courses, may be substituted for the WSBA sponsored reinstatement course. The reinstatement course’s validity for use to satisfy membership change requirements will expire one year from the date of the completion of the course. The reinstatement course credits will apply to the member’s next reporting period.
  • For purposes of determining whether a member has been Inactive, Honorary, and/or suspended for more than six consecutive years, the time continues to run until the change to Active membership is completed, regardless of when the application is submitted to the WSBA.
  • If a member has been Inactive, Honorary, and/or suspended for less than one year, and the member is in an MCLE reporting group that was required to report during the time the member was Inactive and/or suspended, the member must establish compliance with the MCLE reporting requirements for that reporting period before changing to Active.
  • Inactive members must pay a non-refundable $100 fee and submit a Request for Application to Active form or pay online. Upon receipt, an application packet with the member’s detailed requirements for returning to Active will be provided to the member.
  • The Bar exam may be required in unusual cases, e.g., an unusually long period of time as an inactive member without any activity in Washington or another state that qualifies as “active legal experience” (as defined in APR 3(b)(iii)) during that time.

Any discrepancy or conflict between the information provided here and the rules and regulations set by the Washington State Supreme Court, or the bylaws and policies of the Washington State Bar Association, is unintentional and will be resolved in favor of strict compliance with the rules, regulations, bylaws and policies.