Law Students Attaining Student Practitioner Status: Supreme Judicial Court Rule 3:03


Are you a law student looking to volunteer or gain clinical experience? If so, you should know about the Supreme Judicial Court Rule 3:03. SJC Rule 3:03 grants law students the ability to appear in civil and criminal proceedings on behalf of the Commonwealth or parties in need, under direct supervision of an Attorney who is admitted to the Bar of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  Rule 3:03 Certified Students interested in assisting low income landlords and tenants can participate

Rule 3:03 eligible students can take part in a number of pro bono opportunities and projects with the BBA and its community partners.  The BBA has a long standing Housing Court Lawyer of the Day Program where volunteers provide assistance to low-income pro-se litigants. The BBA is also teaming up with the Volunteer Lawyers Project and Senior Partners for Justice to train attorneys to provide pro bono assistance to debtors and creditors in court.  Both projects will host trainings at the BBA this Fall – why not check out the trainings to learn more:

Thursday, October 8, 2015 from 4:00-6:00 pm: Lawyer for the Day Training: Fair Debt Collection

Tuesday, November 17, 2015 from 3:00-6:30 pm: Pro Bono Training: Landlord Tenant Law and Practice

In preparation for these trainings, Beyond the Billable asked, “How do law students obtain Rule 3:03 certification?”

Ultimately, the applicable law school Dean must complete and provide a student practitioner form. In the form, the Dean attests to the student’s credibility, character, and legal ability. The form also verifies that the student has completed, or is enrolled in a course in evidence or trial practice. To learn more about SJC Rule 3:03 click here.

Law students who are in their second to last year are eligible to appear in civil proceedings, while those in their last year who are seeking certification at least three months prior to graduation, are eligible to appear in both civil and criminal matters. Many students need this requirement in order to participate in law school clinical placements or for self-identified internships with government agencies and legal services organizations.

If you are a law student interested in getting certified, here’s where you need to go at your law school:

Boston College Law School: Contact the Dean for Students Office

Boston University School of Law: Contact the Student Affairs Office

New England Law | Boston: Please contact Jacqui Pilgrim in the Office of Student Services to acquire the proper forms.

Northeastern University School of Law: Please contact The Center for Co-op and Professional Advancement

Suffolk University Law School: Contact a staff member in the clinics & internship department.

If you are a recent law school graduate who was 3:03 certified at least three months before graduation, your certification remains in effect until the first bar exam following graduation.  If a student took that examination, the certification remains in effect until the announcement of the examination results.  For any student who passes that examination, the approval to appear under Rule 3:03 continues for six months after the date of examination or until the date of admission to the bar, whichever is sooner, unless your certification was withdrawn (which often happens following a legal clinic placement) or otherwise ordered by the Supreme Judicial Court.

For more information about SJC Rule 3:03 and how it applies to student practitioners, visit the Trial Court’s FAQ page here.

And remember – if you are looking for an opportunity to volunteer beyond your school’s clinics, 3:03 eligible students are invited to come to one of these trainings to learn how to assist litigants and to provide service:

Thursday, October 8, 2015 from 4:00-6:00 pm: Lawyer for the Day Training: Fair Debt Collection

Tuesday, November 17, 2015 from 3:00-6:30 pm: Pro Bono Training: Landlord Tenant Law and Practice