Nevada's new governor-elect and former federal judge Brian Sandoval has named his former clerk Lucas Foletta as his general counsel even though the latter has not passed the Nevada state bar exam.

Sandoval has tapped Foletta for the administration's general counsel position even though he is yet to take the state's bar exam. He is licensed to practice only in California.

However, Foletta can practice in Nevada even without taking the state bar exam because of a certificate that exempts him from doing so.

The certificate, issued in pursuance of Nevada Supreme Court Rule 49.10, grants an exception to bar membership for the limited practice of attorneys employed in government positions or as in-house counsel.

Foletta's certificate was issued on Jan. 4, 2011 and it allows him to practice in Nevada as long as he serves in the governor's office.

Under the rule, Foletta may not appear as counsel of record for the employer in Nevada in any court, before any administrative or political agency, or in any arbitration, mediation, or alternative dispute resolution proceeding which is court ordered or annexed or authorized by law or administrative rule.

Foletta may not also render legal advice or services to the public or to anyone other than the attorney's employer, other employees, or the employer's subsidiaries and affiliates. He may not hold himself out to the public as an attorney so authorized or engaged.

The lawyer has indicated that he plans to sit for the state bar exam soon.