Formal Admission to the Massachusetts Bar

There are two (2) options for finalizing admission to the Massachusetts Bar.
  1. Formal Ceremony
  2. Alternate Admission Procedure

Formal Admission Ceremony

For those petitioners reported qualified for admission by the Board of Bar Examiners to the Massachusetts Bar, the Clerk of the Supreme Judicial Court for The County of Suffolk, Maura S. Doyle, conducts the official admission ceremonies at historic Faneuil Hall. The ceremonies are held twice annually, generally in November and June. For upcoming admission ceremonies, see announcements.

Upon receipt of the passing results from the examination, the petitioners will receive their admission ceremony appearance date and time, or they may choose the alternate admission procedure. The SJC schedules the appearance at the formal admission ceremony generally by the petitioner's last name.  

The petitioners are only allowed to invite a limited number of guests to the ceremony. The number of guests permitted will be included with the formal admission ceremony appearance notice. The SJC does not issue invitations, tickets or assigned seating for the guests.  

At Faneuil Hall, the petitioners are given an assigned seat. It is general admission for the guests.  Faneuil Hall is located at 1 Faneuil Hall Square, Boston, MA 02109 behind Boston City Hall.  The Hall is handicap accessible.  An elevator is located on the ground level at the left side of the building.

The ceremony is an actual session of the Court, presided over by a Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court and conducted by Clerk Doyle. The ceremony is comprised of greetings from bar association officers, the administration of Oaths, remarks by the Justice, signing of the Roll of Attorneys and the presentation of the licenses.

The entire ceremony is approximately two to three hours. Photos and videos are allowed during the ceremony.

 

Additional information regarding the formal ceremony process:

  • You will receive notice from the Court of the date and time of your appearance at the formal admission ceremony with the results of your examination. Otherwise contact the Attorney Services Department at either 617-557-1050 or at sjcattorneyservices@jud.state.ma.us.
  • If you are unable to attend the formal ceremony, you will be mailed the alternate admission information and materials.  You must either fax or email your appearance notice as soon as possible. You will be sent the materials for the alternate admission procedure within six to eight weeks of the formal admission ceremony.  See Alternate Admission information below.
  • Because of the existing fire laws as well as the limited seating capacity of the Hall, it is extremely difficult to know if there is extra seating. Contact Attorney Services Department at either 617-557-1050 or at sjcattorneyservices@jud.state.ma.us for more information.
  • Clerk Maura S. Doyle will give instructions at the ceremony for those petitioners who would like to have someone present you with your license.
  • The ceremony is a Court session.  You should wear the appropriate attire.
  • Photography is allowed.
  • The ceremony lasts approximately 2-3 hours.
  • If you have changed your name after filing your bar application, you need to submit an affidavit of name change (see below)  with supporting documents to the Clerk's office before the ceremony so that your new name is on your license.
  • You may begin to practice as a Massachusetts attorney after you take your Attorney's Oaths and sign the Roll of Attorneys.
  • After you have been admitted, this office will forward your name, address and date of admission to the Board of Bar Overseers.  The Board of Bar Overseers will forward the registration materials to you.  You must register within 90 days of your admission. While you await receipt of your Bar Registration number or your bar card, it is advised that you use "pending" in lieu of the number.

Additional Resources for Formal Admission Ceremony

Alternate Admission Procedure

The alternate admission procedure allows the qualified petitioners to be sworn into the Massachusetts Bar at a different time and location than the official admission ceremonies.

The petitioner is mailed the admission materials, consisting of the official Massachusetts Attorney's Oaths and the official Roll of Attorneys card. Upon receipt of the admission materials, it is the responsibility of the petitioner to find the appropriate authority to administer the Massachusetts Attorney's Oaths.

A petitioner, at any time, can appear at the office of the Supreme Judicial Court for The County of Suffolk, and be administered the Oaths and sign the Roll of Attorneys. 

If the petitioner is resides in another County in Massachusetts or in a different jurisdiction, it is encumbent upon him/her to find out who is authorized to administer said Oaths within that jurisdiction.

Once the Massachusetts Attorney's Oaths are administered and  the Roll of Attorneys is signed, the materials must be returned to the office of the Supreme Judicial Court for The County of Suffolk.  Upon receipt by the Court, the petitioner becomes a member of the Massachusetts Bar.

Additional information about alternate admission:

  • If you are coming to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, you do not need an appointment. You can appear at the Court, Mon. - Fri. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  If you are going to a Superior Court outside of Suffolk County, you should contact that court for more information.
  • You should contact that state's Bar Examiners office and inquire as to who is authorized to swear in the attorneys from that state. Whoever administers that state's Attorneys' Oaths has the authority to administer the Massachusetts Attorneys' Oaths.
  • Outside the United States, you must go to a United States Embassy and have an official of the Embassy administer the oath to you.
  • You may begin to practice as a Massachusetts attorney once you have officially been admitted to the bar.  Your official date of admission is the date you were administered the oath. However, the Supreme Judicial Court will not recognize that date until the completed admission materials have been returned to the Office of the Clerk for The County of Suffolk.
  • After you have been admitted, the Office of the Clerk for The County of Suffolk will forward your name, address and date of admission to the Board of Bar Overseers . The Board of Bar Overseers will forward the requisite registration materials to you.  You must register within 90 days of your admission. While you await your Bar Registration number or your bar card, it is advised that you use "pending" in lieu of the number.

Additional Resources for Alternate Admission Procedure

Practicing with Professionalism Course for New Lawyers

Professionalism Course 

SJC Rule 3:16 on Practicing with Professionalism requires a mandatory course on professionalism for new lawyers admitted to the Massachusetts bar, effective September 1, 2013.  Below is the list of providers with links to their professionalism course web pages.

Approved Providers

Follow links below for specific course and registration information:

Boston Bar Association (BBA)

Greater Lynn Bar Association (GLBA)

Massachusetts Bar Association (MBA)

Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education, Inc. (MCLE)

SJC Standing Advisory Committee on Professionalism

The SJC Standing Advisory Committee on Professionalism is charged with overseeing the implementation of SJC Rule 3:16 on Practicing with Professionalism. The rule was effective on September 1, 2013.  

The Committee's duties and responsibilities include: designating approved course providers; making recommendations to the Court regarding the fees to be charged for the course and any circumstances under which the fees may be waived; evaluating the course providers; reporting to the Court on at least an annual basis on the implementation of the course and an assessment of whether the program is accomplishing its intended goals and outcomes; and overseeing the administration of all aspects of SJC Rule 3:16. 

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