In Massachusetts and Rhode Island, eligible senior law students may appear on behalf of the Commonwealth, indigent defendants in criminal proceedings, or indigent parties in civil proceedings in certain courts under SJC MA Rule 3:03 or RI Rule 9.
Am I eligible?
To qualify under MA Rule 3:03, you must satisfy the following criteria:
- You must be a “senior law student.” You must have successfully completed your next to last year of law school study and be applying at least three months prior to graduation.
- If you are not a senior law student but you have begun your next to last year of law study and are enrolled in a clinic, you may be certified to appear in civil proceedings as part of your participation in the clinical instruction program.
- You must have successfully completed or be enrolled in Evidence or Trial Practice.
- The dean must submit a written approval of your character, legal ability, and training to the court.
To qualify under RI Rule 9, you must satisfy the following criteria:
- You must be a "senior law student." You must have completed successfully the equivalent of at least three full-time semesters of his or her course of law school study.
- You must have completed or be enrolled in a course for credit in evidence or trial practice. The dean must submit a written approval of your character, legal ability, and training to the court.
- What can I do if I am certified?
What can I do if I am certified?
If you qualify under MA Rule 3:03/RI Rule 9:
- You may appear in certain courts and administrative agencies on behalf of the commonwealth or indigent persons in criminal and civil proceedings.
- You appear without compensation and under the general supervision of a member of the bar described in MA Rule 3:03/RI Rule 9.
How do I get certified?
- Complete the MA Rule 3:03 Student Practitioner Form (PDF)/RI Rule 9 Request for Rhode Island Rule 9 Certification Form.
- If you are seeking certification in a course (a clinic or field placement) for which you will receive academic credit, contact the Clinical Programs Coordinator (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- If you are seeking certification in an internship for which you will not receive academic credit, submit the form to the Law School Career Services office. You must also submit a copy of the MA SJC Rule Certification Guidelines for Noncademic Credit Internships (PDF), signed by the 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, the supervising attorney, and the student within seven to ten business days.
Other states have similar rules. If you wish to be certified to practice in another jurisdiction, review those rules and discuss with your out of state supervising attorney. Then contact the appropriate person listed above (How do I get certified? [Cliniccoordinator@umassd.edu for a Clinic or Field Placement or Law School Career Services Office for Pro Bono internship]) for assistance with any forms.