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Requirements for Bar Admission

Local Civil Rule 83A of the Local Rules of the District of Puerto Rico provides that an attorney is qualified for admission to the bar if he or she is currently in good standing as an attorney admitted to practice before the highest court of a state, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Territory of Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, or the Virgin Islands of the United States, provided the attorney also complies with one of the following:

  1. received a satisfactory score as determined by the District Examination Committee on an examination approved by that committee. The Court must be satisfied that the attorney can provide effective assistance of counsel to his or her clients under the Sixth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.
  2. served in this District as a District Judge, Magistrate Judge, Clerk or Chief Deputy Clerk, Law Clerk, United States Attorney or Assistant U.S. Attorney, Federal Public Defender or Assistant Federal Public Defender, for one year or more.
  3. served in the General Court of Justice for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, as a Supreme Court Justice, a Court of Appeals Judge, or a Judge of the Court of First Instance, for five years or more.
  4. has served, on a continuous basis, as a full-time tenured professor of law at the law school of a university duly accredited by the American Bar Association and any other pertinent authority for at least ten (10) years, provided that, at the time of his/her graduation from law school and the start of his or her tenure, no District Examination was administered in this District.

Attorneys requesting admission to the bar of this Court must complete a Petition for Admission to the Bar.  Upon receipt by the Court, Petitions for Admission to the Bar are referred to the Committee on Admissions for evaluation and to render a report and recommendation within thirty (30) business days.  After evaluation of the report, the Court will direct the Clerk's Office staff to notify the applicant with the date scheduled for his/her admission to the bar, as appropriate.

Bar Examination

The examination is given twice a year, in the Spring as well as in the Fall.

As a matter of course, the bar examination will test a candidate's knowledge in the following areas of the law:

  • Federal Civil Procedure
  • Federal Evidence
  • Federal Jurisdiction and Venue
  • Federal Criminal Procedure (Includes the subject of Sentencing Guidelines. Applicants must be familiar with the ruling in United States v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220, 125 S.Ct. 738, 160 L.Ed.2d 621(2005) and progeny from the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals).
  • Local Rules
  • Federal Appellate Procedure
  • Bankruptcy (Addresses matters common to both, the Bankruptcy Code and the amendments of the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005, plus the Bankruptcy rules)
  • Ethics

Additionally, the examination will include a mandatory essay question to verify a candidate's certification of his/her ability to read, write, and understand the English language. The Court must be satisfied that candidates can provide effective assistance of counsel to their clients under the Sixth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.

Public notices are posted in the Clerk's Office and published in the local media a few weeks prior to the exam application deadline.

Applicants must submit, along with the Bar Examination Application Form, an original certificate of good standing (not more than six months) issued by the Puerto Rico Supreme Court, the highest court of any state, the District of Columbia, the Territory of Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, or the U.S. Virgin Islands, and a non-refundable fee of $100.00. The fee is payable to the Clerk, U.S. District Court, Jose V. Toledo U.S. Courthouse, 300 Recinto Sur St., Suite 325 (Intake Cashier), San Juan, Puerto Rico 00901. Payment can be made in check or money order.  The fee will be credited towards the admission fee.

Official examination results are notified in about 4 to 6 weeks to the e-mail address specified on the Bar Examination Application Form.   Federal Bar Examinations results can be found on this web page. Results are not given over the telephone.

Bar Membership Fees  

Important information:  Notice From the Clerk No. 17-14: Exemption of Payment of 2017 Bar Membership Renewal Fee

The bar admission fee is $300.00. See, Notice of the Clerk 07-05. The annual membership renewal fee is $75.00.  See, Misc. Order 97-0083 (ADC) Pro Hac Vice Appearances and Bar Membership Renewal Fees. This fee is due every October 1.

Pro Hac Vice Appearances

The Pro Hac Vice Appearance fee is $300.00 per appearance. See, Misc. Order 97-0083 (ADC) Pro Hac Vice Appearances and Bar Membership Renewal Fees.  Attorneys may be permitted to appear Pro Hac Vice pursuant to Local Rule 83A(f). Click to obtain an Application and Order for Admission Pro Hac Vice.

Admission to the Bar of the First Circuit of Appeals

Attorneys who wish to apply for admission to the bar of the First Circuit Court of Appeals must comply with the admission requirements set forth in Fed. R. App. P. 46 and must be sponsored by a current First Circuit Bar member in good standing. Applicants who are unable to identify a First Circuit bar member as a sponsor should contact the Clerk's Office for assistance.  See, First Circuit Rulebook.

Upon being admitted to practice, an attorney other than government counsel, and court-appointed counsel, must pay a local admission fee of $50.00 to the clerk.  The clerk must maintain the proceeds as a court's discretionary fund for the reimbursement of expenses of non-compensable court-appointed counsel and such other purposes as the court may order.  This fee is in addition to the $176.00 national admission fee imposed by the Court of Appeals Miscellaneous Fee Schedule, promulgated under 28 U.S.C. § 1913.  Absent a waiver, attorneys seeking admission to the First Circuit Bar are required to submit their bar application and pay the combined admission fee of $226.00 electronically through CM/ECF. 

Once verification of the application is complete, which may take up to 7 days, a Certificate of Admission will be returned by mail.  Attorneys may be admitted in open court on motion or otherwise as the court shall determine.  Successful applicants to be admitted in court will be electronically notified of the time and place of admission.  Such applicants will receive their Certificate of Admission by mail at a later date.  The admission fee is waived for attorneys appearing before the Court as (1) counsel for the United States or an officer or agency thereof, or (2) counsel appointed under the Criminal Justice Act (CJA).  However, an eighteen ($18) charge applies to attorneys who represent the United States or who are appointed under the CJA who wish to obtain the optional Certificate of Admission.

Once admitted, attorneys will be assigned a First Circuit Court of Appeals Bar Number which must be used on any pleading filed with the court. Attorneys who practice in this court must register as electronic filers.