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.

Table of Contents

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 dean and the supervising attorney.

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be in effect until such time that a student no longer meets the criteria of the Rule, and shall be in effect, unless withdrawn earlier, until the date of the first bar examination following the student's graduation, and as to a student taking that examination, until the announcement of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 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.

Forms

To become a student practitioner, the dean of the student's law school must complete and file the Rule 3:03 Student Practitioner Initial Request Form.

To amend a current student practitioner certification, a Rule 3:03 Student Practitioner Amendment Form must be filed; This form can be completed and submitted by either the student practitioner, law school dean, or supervising attorney.

Additional Resources for Forms

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are the requirements to be a Student Practitioner?

You 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 next to last year student or as a last year student and you must meet the following listed criteria: 

Next to 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;
  • 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 completed successfully their next to the last year of law school study;**
  • 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.

**Requests for certification as a senior law student must be submitted once grades are conferred and the student has successfully completed their next to last year; "Rising senior law students" are not eligible for certification as a senior law student.  

[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.


2. How do I become a Student Practitioner?

The dean of your law school must complete and file the Rule 3:03 Student Practitioner Initial Request Form. The original form must be sent to:

Clerk Maura S. Doyle
Supreme Judicial Court for the Suffolk County
John Adams Courthouse
One Pemberton Square, Suite 1300
Boston, MA 02108


3. How long does it take to get my Student Practitioner Certification?

It takes seven (7) to ten (10) business days from receipt of the completed Rule 3:03 Student Practitioner Form.


4. How long does my status as Student Practitioner last?

Student practitioner certification remains effective until:

a)  The student no longer meets the criteria of the Rule;

b)  The certification is withdrawn earlier; 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.


5. How can I obtain my supervising attorney's bar number? 

Either contact your supervisor directly or visit the Board of Bar Overseers.


6. How do I amend my current Student Practitioner certification?

You, your supervising attorney, or your dean may file a Rule 3:03 Student Practitioner Amendment Form with the SJC Clerk for Suffolk County's Office.


7. What is my Student Practice Case Number?

This is the number listed on the bottom left corner of your certification notice; SP-####-####.


8. Is my Student Practice Certification from another state reciprocal with Massachusetts?

Possibly. The dean of your law school must file a completed SJC Rule 3:03 Initial Request form, along with proof of your current out-of-state student practice certification, as well as a copy of that state's Rule pertaining to student practice with the Clerk's office for review.

 

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