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Guide Guide to Filing a Petition for Admission by Examination (First-Time)

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the July 2021 UBE will again be administered remotely in Massachusetts. The July 2021 filing period will open at 8:30 AM on Thursday, April 1, 2021, with a filing deadline of the close of business on Friday, May 14, 2021.

Exam Dates: Tuesday, July 27th & Wednesday, July 28th, 2021
Additional updates regarding the July 2021 exam will be posted as they become available.

Please make sure you read this Guide in its entirety prior to starting your petition. Then continue to check this Guide and all FAQs pages throughout the filing period for any important updates.

Table of Contents

Current exam status

The Justices of the Supreme Judicial Court, the Office of Clerk Maura S. Doyle and the Board of Bar Examiners (BBE) have announced that, due to seating limitations and safety concerns amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Uniform Bar Examination (UBE) scheduled for July 27-28, 2021 will be offered remotely.

The remote administration of the exam will allow all petitioners seeking admission by examination to the Massachusetts bar, who satisfy the requirements of SJC Rule 3:01, to file a Petition for Admission and sit for this exam. Petitions can be e-filed during the period of April 1, 2021 - May 14, 2021.

Please be advised that a Petition for Admission to the Bar in Massachusetts, unlike in other jurisdictions, is a civil action at law. The $815 fee paid by a petitioner is comprised of an $800 statutory civil case filing fee (GL c. 221, §37) and a $15 statutory surcharge fee (GL c. 262, §4C) that is required to be paid in all civil actions filed in the Commonwealth. These fees are not a fee to sit for the exam, and as with all civil cases filed in the Commonwealth, the case filing fee and surcharge fees are not refundable. Similarly, the $75 technology fee (GL c. 221, §37) is also statutorily mandated.

The Office of the Clerk of the Supreme Judicial Court for the County of Suffolk has created this Guide and an FAQ page to provide details on the proper filing of your Petition for Admission. The Board of Bar Examiners has created an FAQ page to provide details about the format, content and administration of the exam. Additional updates regarding the July 2021 exam will be posted as they become available. Please keep checking these pages.

What you should know

Generally about filing

  • A Petition for Admission to the Bar in Massachusetts, unlike in other jurisdictions, is a civil action at law. The fees charged are not a fee to sit for the exam, and as with all civil cases filed in the Commonwealth, the case filing fee and surcharge fees are not refundable. Similarly, the $75 technology fee (GL c. 221, §37) is also statutorily mandated and not refundable.
  • Petitions for Admission by Examination, once filed and accepted by the Court, may not be deferred to a future period. Any petitioners who files a motion to withdraw their petition or fails to appear for the examination will need to file a new petition and pay all applicable fees.
  • For further information regarding the format, content and administration of the July 2021 exam, please review the Board of Bar Examiner FAQ page.
  • As mentioned above, the filing fees are statutory and non-refundable. All fees (filing, surcharge and technology) are payable at the time of filing your petition. Please do not send any payments directly to the Court. When making payment during submission, there will be an opportunity for those who intend to file an Affidavit of Indigency or other fee waiver. There is information about eligibility found below, under Fees.

About filing your petition

  • Petitions for Admission by Examination or by Re-take must be e-filed. Please register on the Odyssey Guide and File website before beginning the petition. Registered users can save their work and return to complete their application. Users who are not logged in may lose their work if they exit the interview.
  • The electronic application has been updated for a better user experience. It is important for all petitioners to read this Guide page and any FAQ pages to best prepare for e-filing. Additional FAQs can be found throughout the interview on Odyssey Guide and File in the right hand margin.
  • Tyler Technologies suggests Google Chrome as the preferred browser for Odyssey Guide and File.
  • For optimal performance, it is suggested that you clear your browser cache before using Odyssey Guide and File.
  • When beginning the e-filing process, please be sure to select the correct Petition for Admission (First-time or Retake).
  • Documents that are required for upload must be in PDF format. These documents must also follow the following instructions:
    • The PDF document must be simple, portrait, reduced size and not contain any active hyperlinks (emails, websites, etc.).
    • The PDF document must not contain any restrictions, password or security protections.
    • The PDF filename must be less than 25 characters and not have any spaces, commas or special characters (e.g.  ` * _ {} [] () # + -!) 
    • If you have more than one document (i.e. two letters of recommendation) for any individual upload category, please save them as a single PDF document.
    • Please know that if you do not properly name and format your PDF document, it may likely cause your submission to fail.

When reporting two or more instances in any category (residential history, education, employment, licenses, discipline, grievances or legal processes) you will have the option to prepare and upload a PDF list of the additional instances.

What you will need

You will need to assemble the following information & documents to complete your application. The documents must be saved as PDFs and named according to instructions on this page so they are ready for upload.

Personal information required

  • Current contact information, including residential address, phone number and valid email address.
  • If applicable, any information regarding changes to your legal name, including the date of change, location of change, and reason for change.
  • Residential address history for previous five (5) years, including dates (month & year).
  • Education history including all disciplinary actions with applicable records.
  • Employment history since the age of eighteen (18) with dates of employment, employer reference, and reason for leaving.

Character and fitness information required

  • Professional Licenses and Official Positions (Elected, Appointed or Judicial) including applications, suspensions, revocations, charges, grievances or complaints, including records and statement of details
  • Legal practice discipline if applicable, (charges, grievances, suspensions, etc.) including records and statement of details 
  • Legal Proceedings (civil, administrative, criminal, financial, charges, grievances, suspensions and all supporting documentation, including current disposition and statement of details.) 

Other information / documents required

  • Law School Certificate (LSC)
    • If you do not yet have your law school certificate, it is your responsibility to obtain it from your law school. Please use this Law School Certificate Form to make your request.
    • Recent graduates (past 5 years) from Massachusetts law schools do not need to contact their school as those LSCs are filed electronically.
    • Scan your LSC to PDF format for upload. 
    • Failure to submit your LSC timely (within fourteen days of your graduation OR within fourteen days of filing this Petition) could jeopardize your eligibility to Petition for Admission.
    • If you do not have of your LSC at the time of upload, you must select the reason from the available drop down menu.
  • MPRE Score Report showing a scaled score of 85, or higher.
    • For filers who have their MPRE Score Report, official or unofficial, or are able to obtain their report through their NCBE Account File Cabinet, scan or save it to PDF format for upload.
    • For those without a score report to upload, including those who have had their report sent directly to Massachusetts by the NCBE, they must select the reason from the available drop down menu.
  • Dates of applications and admissions to bars of any other jurisdictions (if applicable);
    • Certificate(s) of Good Standing from the highest court of any jurisdiction to which you are admitted (if applicable);
    • Grievance Letter from the attorney disciplinary committee of any jurisdiction to which you are admitted (if applicable), and;  
    • Laptop Registration and Statement of Compliance forms (required for all petitioners)

Recommendations required

  • All e-filed Petitions for Admission to the Massachusetts Bar do not require wet signatures. Photocopies and electronic signatures will be accepted. The electronic signature can take the form of either a scan of the handwritten signature, an electronically inserted image intended to substitute for a signature, or a "/s/ name of signatory" block. See Supreme Judicial Court updated order authorizing use of electronic signatures by attorneys and self-represented litigants.
  • All Petitions for Admission by Examination must be accompanied by two letters of recommendation
  • All Petitions for Admission by Examination must be accompanied by an Attorney Recommendation  on the appropriate court form.
    • Attorney Recommendation Form 
    • The attorney must be a licensed member of the bar within the United States.
    • The attorney signing this form may also submit one of the two letters of recommendation

How to file

Note: Before filing electronically, assemble all required documents so they are available for upload during your completion of the Petition for Admission Interview. The documents must be saved as PDFs and named according to instructions on this page.

Electronic Filing:

  • Register with the Court's e-filing vendor, Tyler Technologies. Please be sure to take this step before starting your petition. Click on the silhouette in the top right corner of the web page and select Register.
  • Always be sure you are logged into Odyssey Guide and File prior to doing any work on your petition or your work may be lost.
  • Complete the online interview found here:  Petition for Admission by Examination.
  • Once the interview is completed, review your answers and confirm that all requisite documents to your Petition for Admission were uploaded, including any records required as a result of certain affirmative responses within the interview.
  • Once you begin the review summary at the end of the interview, it is recommended that you download and save to your local computer a copy of all documents created. (You will not be able to view the XML file.) You should especially review the Petition for Admission by First Time.PDF to be sure your responses are all represented correctly.
  • Fees - Electronically pay the court filing fee, laptop program fee and Tyler Technologies service fee, or file your completed Affidavit of Indigency or fee waiver request, if eligible. Please remember that court fees are statutory and NOT refundable and that your petition can not be deferred to a future exam.
  • Electronically File your Petition for Admission with the Court. You will receive an e-confirmation from Tyler that your Petition was submitted to the Court. Within 10-15 business days, your filing will be reviewed and you will receive an additional e-confirmation from the Court indicating that your filing has been accepted.

Fees

Non-refundable court filing fees for a petition for admission by examination

Please be advised that a Petition for Admission to the Bar in Massachusetts, unlike in other jurisdictions, is a civil action at law. The fees paid by a petitioner are statutory (G.L. c. 221, §37,  G.L. c. 262, §4C, G.L. c. 221, §37) and are required to be paid in all civil actions filed in the Commonwealth. These fees are not a fee to sit for the exam, and as with all civil cases filed in the Commonwealth, the case filing fee and surcharge fees are NOT refundable. 

Name Fee
Court filing fee for petition $815
Technology fee $75
Tyler e-filing fees $22
Tyler payment convenience fee  variable


If you feel you are not able to pay your court fees, you may check to see if you meet the eligibility requirements for indigency (waiver of fees). If you believe you qualify for the fee waiver, you should:

  1. Complete the Affidavit of Indigency. If applicable, complete the Supplement to the Affidavit of Indigency (if you claim eligibility under Category (C) of the Affidavit of Indigency). Please be advised that affidavits of indigency and their supplement are impounded (non-public) documents.
  2. Scan or save this document in PDF format for upload during e-filing.

If, after review, your waiver request is not granted by the court, you will be contacted with instructions for submitting the payment of your required fees.

Additional Resources for Fees

After you file

Notification

You will receive your first notification from Odyssey Guide & File confirming your Petition for Admission By Examination has been submitted to the Court for review. Save this confirmation to your computer.

After you submit your Petition and documents, the Supreme Judicial Court can access and will review your Petition and documents over the next 10 -15 business days.

You will then receive a second notification from Odyssey Guide & File indicating your Petition has been Accepted. If your documents do NOT adhere to the PDF formatting protocols detailed on this page, you will receive a Rejected notification with instructions to correct the errors and resubmit your Petition.

Personal Information Updates

If you have changed your name, address, email or other contact information after the filing of your Petition, you should immediately submit that new information to the Court. If you have legally changed your name, you must submit a completed Affidavit of Name Change Form. If you need to modify any other personal information, please use the Personal Information Change Form.

Employment, Education and Disclosure Updates

Changes to your employment history, educational record or other disclosures you made in your petition, must be reported to the Court. Your rider page must include your name, address and type of petition (Examination, Re-Examination), as well as your NCBE # and the disclosure category you intend to update (e.g. employment, legal, civil action, etc.).

It is imperative that you notify the Court of any changes to the information that you provided in your petition for admission as soon as possible. The updated information should be detailed in either one of the forms provided or on a written rider page. All pertinent documents should be emailed to sjc.mass.bar.exam@jud.state.ma.us.

Related

Nonstandard Testing Accommodations

If you have a disability that will require nonstandard testing accommodations on the bar examination, you must complete and file the application for Nonstandard Testing Accommodations (NTA) with the Board of Bar Examiners. Learn more at: About nonstandard testing accommodations.

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