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Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Rule 3:01: Attorneys

(Including amendments effective July 1, 2010)

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Section 1. Filing Requirements for Admission.

1.1 Admission by Written Examination. Persons desiring admission to the bar of the Commonwealth by written examination shall apply by filing with the Clerk of the Supreme Judicial Court for the county of Suffolk:

1.1.1 Petition for Admission accompanied by the recommendation of a member of the bar of this Commonwealth or of any state, district or territory of the United States;

1.1.2 Applicant’s Statement;

1.1.3 Authorization Form;

1.1.4 Law School Certificate;

1.1.5 Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination Score Report that sets forth a passing scaled score;

1.1.6 Two (2) Letters of Recommendation for Admission; and

1.1.7 Current Certificate(s) of Admission and Good Standing from the highest judicial court of each state, district, territory or foreign country to which the applicant is admitted, if applicable.

1.2 Admission by Motion. Persons desiring admission to the bar of the Commonwealth by motion, pursuant to Rule 3:01, Section 6.1 or 6.2, shall apply by filing with the Clerk of the Supreme Judicial Court for the county of Suffolk:

1.2.1 Petition for Admission accompanied by the recommendation of a member of the bar of this Commonwealth or of any state, district or territory of the United States;

1.2.2 Applicant’s Statement;

1.2.3 Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination Score Report;

1.2.4 National Conference of Bar Examiners Request for Preparation of a Character Report;

1.2.5 For admission on motion pursuant to Section 6.1, three (3) letters of Recommendation for Admission from members of the bar of the Commonwealth or of the bar of the state, district or territory of the United States where the applicant is admitted or last practiced. At least one letter must be from a member of the bar of the state, district or territory of the United States where the applicant is admitted;

1.2.6 For admission on motion pursuant to Section 6.2, three (3) letters of Recommendation for Admission from members of the bar of the Commonwealth or of the bar of the province or territory of Canada where the applicant is admitted or last practiced. At least one letter must be from a member of the bar of the province or territory of Canada where the applicant is admitted;

1.2.7 Current Certificate(s) of Admission and Good Standing from the highest judicial court of each state, district, territory, province or foreign country to which the applicant is admitted;

1.2.8 Letter from the grievance or disciplinary entity of each state, district, territory, province or foreign country to which the applicant is admitted indicating that there are no charges pending against the applicant;

1.2.9 For admission on motion pursuant to Section 6.1, proof of active practice or teaching of law in a state, district or territory of the United States for five out of the past seven years immediately preceding the filing of petition for admission on motion.

1.2.10 For admission on motion pursuant to Section 6.2, proof of active practice or teaching of law in a province or territory of Canada for five out of the past seven years immediately preceding the filing of petition for admission on motion.

1.3 Referral to Board of Bar Examiners. All petitions for admission with accompanying materials shall be referred to the Board of Bar Examiners for a report as to the character, acquirements and qualifications of the applicant. See Rules V and VI of the Rules of the Board of Bar Examiners.

Section 2. Bar Examinations.

2.1 Time and Place. Law examinations shall be held at least twice a year in Massachusetts and in such other places as the Board of Bar Examiners shall designate. The Board shall fix the times and places of the examinations and shall give due notice thereof.

Section 3. Qualifications for Taking Bar Examination.

3.1 Graduates of law schools in a state, district or territory of the United States.

3.1.1 High School. Each applicant for admission by examination shall have been graduated from a public high school or its equivalent, or shall have received the equivalent education in the opinion of the Board.

3.1.2 College. Each applicant shall have completed the work acceptable for a bachelor's degree in a college or university, or have received an equivalent education in the opinion of the Board.

3.1.3 Law School. Each applicant shall have graduated with a degree of bachelor of laws or juris doctor from a law school which, at the time of graduation, is approved by the American Bar Association or is authorized by statute of the Commonwealth to grant the degree of bachelor of laws or juris doctor.

3.2 Graduates of Foreign Law Schools. Graduates of law schools in foreign countries must have a college and legal education that is, in the opinion of the Board, similar in nature and quality to that of graduates of law schools approved by the American Bar Association. Before permitting such an applicant to take the law examination, the Board in its discretion may, as a condition to such permission, require such applicant to take such further legal studies as the Board may designate at a law school approved by the American Bar Association.

Section 4. Public Notice of Bar Examination Results.

4.1 Notice and Publication. Before the Board of Bar Examiners reports to the Court on the character, acquirements, and qualifications of an applicant for admission, the Board shall prepare a list of names of those applicants who passed the written law examination (under Rule 3:01, Section 3) and who, if no objection is made, may be recommended to the Supreme Judicial Court for admission.

A copy of the list of names shall be sent to the Clerk of the Supreme Judicial Court for Suffolk County and the clerk of courts for each county who shall post the list in a public place for a period of seven days from a date fixed by the Board of Bar Examiners.

A copy of the list of names shall be sent to the Board of Bar Overseers, to the Massachusetts Bar Association, to the Boston Bar Association and such other bar associations and newspapers in the Commonwealth as the Board of Bar Examiners shall determine.

4.2 Report to the Court. Not sooner than ten days after the date fixed for posting by the Board of Bar Examiners, the Board may report to the Supreme Judicial Court the names of those applicants then found qualified for admission under Section 3.

Section 5. Disposition of Petitions for Admission.

5.1 Qualified Applicants. The petitions for admission of those who pass the law examination and who are found by the Board of Bar Examiners to be of good moral character and of sufficient acquirements and qualifications may be allowed and the applicants may be admitted either (a) in open court upon subscription to the attorneys' oaths, at such times and places as the Supreme Judicial Court shall appoint, or (b) by mail in accordance with procedures established by the Supreme Judicial Court and administered by the Clerk of the Supreme Judicial Court for Suffolk County.

5.2 Admission of Qualified Applicants within a Limited Time. Except as otherwise ordered by a Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court, a qualified applicant for admission may be sworn and enrolled as an attorney within one year of the report to the Court (Rule 3:01, subsection 4.2) concerning the applicant, and, if not so sworn and enrolled, the applicant may thereafter be sworn and enrolled only if he or she satisfies the Board of Bar Examiners as to his or her current legal knowledge, qualifications, and good moral character.

5.3 Non-qualified Applicants. The petitions of those found not qualified shall be dismissed at the expiration of sixty days from the Board of Bar Examiners' report of non-qualification, unless within that period the Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court, on application of the petitioner, shall order a hearing on the matter.

Section 6. Admissions on Motion.

6.1 Persons admitted to practice in the United States. A person who has been admitted as an attorney of the highest judicial court of any state, district or territory of the United States may apply to the Supreme Judicial Court for admission on motion as an attorney in this Commonwealth. Prior failure to pass the Massachusetts bar examination creates a rebuttable presumption against admission on motion. The Board of Bar Examiners may, in its discretion, excuse the applicant from taking the regular law examination on the applicant's compliance with the following conditions:

6.1.1 The applicant shall have been admitted in another state, district or territory of the United States for at least five years prior to applying for admission in the Commonwealth, and shall have engaged in the active practice or teaching of law in a state, district or territory of the United States for five out of the past seven years immediately preceding the filing of the petition for admission on motion.

6.1.2 The applicant shall have so engaged in the practice or teaching of law since the prior admission as to satisfy the Board of Bar Examiners of his or her good moral character and professional qualifications.

6.1.3 Omitted

6.1.4 Graduates of law schools in a state, district or territory of the United States. The applicant shall have graduated from high school, or shall have received the equivalent education, in the opinion of the Board, completed work for a bachelor's degree at a college or university, or its equivalent, and graduated from a law school which at the time of graduation was approved by the American Bar Association or was authorized by a state statute to grant the degree of bachelor of laws or juris doctor.

Graduates of Foreign Law Schools. Graduates of law schools in foreign countries must have a college and legal education that is, in the opinion of the Board, similar in nature and quality to that of graduates of law schools approved by the American Bar Association.

6.1.5 The applicant shall pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination if he or she has not previously passed that examination in another jurisdiction.

6.2 Graduates of Canadian law schools who are admitted to practice in Canada. A person who has graduated from a law school in Canada, and who has been admitted as an attorney in the Law Society of any Canadian province or territory, may apply to the Supreme Judicial Court to be admitted on 6 motion as an attorney in this Commonwealth. Prior failure to pass the Massachusetts bar examination creates a rebuttable presumption against admission on motion. The Board of Bar Examiners may, in its discretion, excuse the applicant from taking the regular law examination on the applicant's compliance with the following conditions:

6.2.1 The applicant shall have completed a college and legal education that is, in the opinion of the Board, similar in nature and quality to that of graduates of law schools approved by the American Bar Association.

6.2.2 The applicant shall have been admitted in a Canadian province or territory for at least five years prior to applying for admission in the Commonwealth, and shall have engaged in the active practice or teaching of law in such province or territory for five out of the seven years immediately preceding the filing of the petition for admission on motion.

6.2.3 The applicant shall have so engaged in the practice or teaching of law since the prior admission as to satisfy the Board of Bar Examiners of his or her good moral character and professional qualifications.

6.2.4 The applicant shall pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination.

6.3 Notice and Publication for Admission under Section 6. Before the Board of Bar Examiners reports to the Court on the character, acquirements, and qualifications of applicants for admission, the Board shall prepare a list of names of applicants who, if no objection is made, may be recommended to the Supreme Judicial Court for admission.

A copy of the list of names shall be sent to the Clerk of the Supreme Judicial Court for Suffolk County and the clerk of courts for each county who shall post the list in a public place for a period of seven days from a date fixed by the Board of Bar Examiners.

A copy of the list of names shall be sent to the Board of Bar Overseers, to the Massachusetts Bar Association, to the Boston Bar Association and such other bar associations and newspapers in the Commonwealth as the Board of Bar Examiners may determine.

6.4 Report to the Court. Not sooner than ten days after the date fixed for posting by the Board of Bar Examiners, the Board may report to the Supreme Judicial Court the names of those applicants then found qualified for admission under § 6.

6.5 Time Limitation for Enrollment. Except as otherwise ordered by a Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court, a qualified applicant may be sworn and enrolled as an attorney within one year of the report to the Court. Failure to be so sworn and enrolled will result in dismissal of the application.

Section 7. Bar Examiner's Rules.

7.1 The Board of Bar Examiners may, subject to the approval of the Supreme Judicial Court, make rules consistent with these rules.

Section 8. Subpoenas.

8.1 Any member of the Board of Bar Examiners may summon witnesses to appear before the Board.

Section 9. Immunity.

9.1 The Board of Bar Examiners, and its members, employees, and agents are immune from all civil liability for conduct and communications occurring in the performance of their official duties relating to the examination, character and fitness qualification, and licensing of persons seeking to be admitted to the practice of law.

9.2 Records, statements of opinion and other information regarding an applicant for admission to the bar communicated by any entity, including any person, firm, or institution, without malice, to the Board of Bar Examiners, or to its members, employees or agents are privileged, and civil suits predicated thereon may not be instituted.

As amended on April 1, 2009, effective July 1, 2009; June 10, 2010, effective July 1, 2010.