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Student Practice Certification

Guidelines for Student Practice Certification in Massachusetts

Under certain circumstances, Rule 3:03 of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court allows students to represent clients in cases or proceedings pending before administrative agencies or in any court of the Commonwealth. 

Rule 3:03 Certification Eligibility for Seniors

  • 3:03 Certification for Seniors

    The information listed below is intended for informational purposes only and all students seeking 3:03 Certification must comply with the SJC Rule and procedures. Questions may be directed to Marie Fletcher, Clinical Programs Administrator.

How do I qualify?

To qualify under Rule 3:03, you must satisfy the following criteria:

  • You must have successfully completed your next to last year of law school study and be applying at least three months prior to graduation.
  • Student must have written approval by the Dean of the law school of his/her character, legal ability, and training (Dean’s signature is on initial request form).
  • You must have successfully completed or be enrolled in Evidence or Trial Practice.
  • You must be supervised by a Massachusetts Licensed Attorney.

What can I do if I am certified?

  • You may appear on behalf of the Commonwealth in civil and criminal proceedings under general supervision of a member of the bar of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts who is:
  1. A regular or special assistant district attorney.
  2. A regular or special assistant attorney general.
  3. A corporation counsel.
  4. A city solicitor, town counsel, assistant municipal counsel or assistant  solicitor.
  • You may appear on behalf of indigent defendants in civil and criminal proceedings provided that the conduct of the case is under the general supervision of a member of the bar of the Commonwealth of Massachhusetts who is:
  1. Assigned to the case by the Committee for Public Counsel Services.
  2. Employed by a non-profit program of legal aid, legal assistance or defense or a law school clinical instruction program.

How do I get certified?

  • See Marie Fletcher in the Clinic Building.  Provide the name, contact information, and BBO # for your supervising attorney.
  • The law school will process your forms and submit them to the court. Once the court has received the completed forms, it will process the request and issue a Notice of Certification to the law school and the supervising attorney.

Rule 3:03 certification eligibility for Juniors

  • 3:03 Certification for Juniors

    The information listed below is intended for informational purposes only and all students seeking 3:03 Certification must comply with the SJC Rule and procedures. Questions may be directed to Marie Fletcher, Clinical Programs Administrator.

How do I qualify?

To qualify under Rule 3:03 as a Junior student, you must satisfy the following criteria:

  • If you have begun your next to last year of law study and are enrolled in a clinic or externship, you may be certified to appear in civil proceedings only as part of your participation in the clinical instruction program (a clinic or externship).
  • You must have successfully completed or be enrolled in Evidence or Trial Practice.
  • Student must have written approval by the Dean of the law school of his/her character, legal ability, and training (Dean’s signature is on initial request form).

What can I do if I am certified?

  • A junior law student may appear on behalf of the Commonwealth in civil proceedings only under general supervision of a member of the bar of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts who is:
  1. A regular or special assistant district attorney.
  2. A regular or special assistant attorney general.
  3. A corporation counsel.
  4. A city solicitor, town counsel, assistant municipal counsel or assistant  solicitor.
  • A junior law student may appear on behalf of indigent defendants in civil proceedings only provided that the conduct of the case is under the general supervision of a member of the bar of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts who is:
  1. Assigned to the case by the Committee for Public Counsel Services.
  2. Employed by a non-profit program of legal aid, legal assistance or defense or a law school clinical instruction program.

How do I get certified?

  • See Marie Fletcher in the Clinic Building.  Provide the name, contact information, and BBO # for your supervising attorney.
  • The law school will process your forms and submit them to the court. Once the court has received the completed forms, it will process the request and issue a Notice of Certification to the law school and the supervising attorney.

3:03 Certification after Graduation

  • Guidelines

    Students who have been certified three months prior to graduation, may continue their Student Practitioner status until the announcement of the bar examination results. For any student who passes the bar examination, the approval shall continue in effect for six months after the date of examination or until the date of his or her admission to the bar, whichever is sooner. The MA Supreme Judicial Court will not issue certification after student’s graduation date, merely to enable a student to obtain postgraduate employment (paid or volunteer) with a prosecutor’s office or public defender’s office in MA. If a student is being considered for post-grad employment or volunteer work with  the Committee for Public Counsel Services office or the district attorney’s office requiring 3:03 certification, the student must request the submission of an initial certification at least 3 months prior to graduation (which means sometime on or about February 15 of student’s graduation year). In addition, the student cannot request certification without current attorney supervision to become qualified for a post-grad position. If graduating student is certified in the last semester of law school, they must request the submission of an amendment to their current certification prior to the end of the semester.  

Guidelines for Student Practice Certification in Connecticut

The State of Connecticut Superior Court Practice Rule 3-14 to 3.21 allows student interns to be certified for student practice under the same eligibility guidelines set forth in the Massachusetts SJC Rule 3:03.  

Please see Marie Fletcher to apply for student practice certification in Connecticut.