Guide Student Practitioners

SJC Rule 3:03 permits eligible students in their next to last year of law school to appear in civil proceedings and permits eligible students in their final year of law school to appear in civil & criminal proceedings on behalf of the Commonwealth or indigent parties under the general supervision of a member of the bar of the Commonwealth.

Summary

SJC Rule 3:03 permits eligible students in their next to last year of law school to appear in civil proceedings and permits eligible students in their final year of law school to appear in civil & criminal proceedings on behalf of the Commonwealth or indigent parties under the general supervision of a member of the bar of the Commonwealth.

The Dean of the law school must provide the Supreme Judicial Court for The County of Suffolk an account of the student's character, legal ability, and training; a statement indicating that the student has successfully completed or is enrolled in a course for credit in evidence or trial practice; and, must provide the Court with the student's supervising attorney's name, office address and Board of Bar Overseers number. In accordance with this Rule, the Supreme Judicial Court mandates a Rule 3:03 Student Practitioner Form that must be filed with the Clerk's office by the Dean of the Law School.

Within seven (7) to ten (10) business days of the law school's Dean filing the completed form, the student may be granted a Student Practitioner certification, which corresponds to his/her eligibility. Notice of the student's practitioner certification will be sent to the law school, the supervising attorney and the student.

Student practitioner status shall be in effect until such time that a student no longer meets the criteria of the Rule, and shall be in effect, unless withdrawn earlier, until the date of the first bar examination following the student's graduation, and as to a student taking that examination, until the announcement of the results thereof.  The approval for any student who passes that examination, the approval shall continue in effect for six months after the date of examination or until the date of his/her admission to the bar, whichever is sooner, unless otherwise ordered by the Supreme Judicial Court.

Requirements

To meet the requirements to become a student practitioner, one must be a student in an accredited law school, or a law school authorized by statute of the Commonwealth to grant the degree of bachelor of laws or juris doctor as either a second to last year student or as a last year student and meet the following listed criteria:

Second to last year law students:

  • Enrollment or completion of a course for credit in evidence or trial practice;

  • Has character, legal ability and training attested to by the dean of the law school;

  • Participation in a law school clinical program designated for civil proceedings on behalf of indigent parties in particular divisions of the judiciary[1]; and,

  • Supervision by a member of the bar of the Commonwealth assigned by the Committee for Public Counsel Services or employed by a non-profit program of legal aid, legal assistance or defense or a law school clinical instruction program.

Last year law students:

  • Has successfully completed or is enrolled in a course for credit in evidence or trial practice;

  • Has character, legal ability and training attested to by the dean of the law school;

  • Is seeking certification at least three (3) months prior to graduation;

  • Is appearing on behalf of indigent defendants in criminal or civil proceedings in particular divisions of the judiciary[2]; and,

  • Supervision by a member of the bar of the Commonwealth who is a regular or special assistant district attorney, a regular or special assistant attorney general, or a corporation counsel, city solicitor, town counsel, assistant municipal counsel or assistant solicitor.

[1] District Court, Juvenile Court, Probate and Family Court, Housing Court or the Boston Municipal Court.

[2] District Court, Juvenile Court, Housing Court, Boston Municipal Court, Supreme Judicial Court or Appeals Court.

Process

To become a Student Practitioner, the Dean of your law school must complete and file the Rule 3:03 Student Practitioner Form. You will receive your Student Practitioner Certification 7-10 days from the receipt of the completed form. This certification remains effective until:

a) The student no longer meets the criteria of the Rule;
b) The certification is withdrawn earlier; and, or,
c) The date of the first bar examination following the student's graduation*.

*And as to a student taking that examination, the certification remains in effect until the announcement of the results thereof. For any student who passes that examination, the approval shall continue in effect for six months after the date of examination or until the date of his admission to the bar, whichever is sooner, unless otherwise ordered by the Supreme Judicial Court.

To obtain your supervising attorney's bar number, you should contact your supervisor directly, or visit the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers.

Additional Resources

Amending Your Form

To amend your current Student Practitioner certification, a Rule 3:03 Student Practitioner Amendment Form must be filed with the SJC Clerk for Suffolk County's Office. This may be filed by you, your supervising attorney, or your law school Dean.

 

Additional Resources

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