THE LICENSING PROCESS

In order to be licensed as an attorney at law of the State of New Jersey, an applicant must satisfy all requirements of the New Jersey Supreme Court, including, but not limited to:

  1. Graduating in good standing from an accredited law school and
  2. Qualifying for and passing the New Jersey bar examination and
  3. Receiving a Certification of Character and
  4. Passing the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) with a 75 or higher or pass an approved law school course on ethics with a “C” or better and
  5. Taking the Oath of Admission and signing the attorney's roll


The bar examination is administered in New Jersey in February and July of each year. The primary administration is July when recent law graduates take it. Using July as an example, the results are generally announced in November. If an applicant successfully passes the examination and has been certified for admission by the reviewing Character Committee attorney, the Supreme Court commonly accepts that recommendation and that person can be sworn in thereafter once other administrative requirements are satisfied such as fingerprinting, etc. If a person does not pass the bar examination, the application does not proceed further. If a person passes the bar examination but has not been certified from a character perspective, a RG303 hearing will be held before a Panel of three Committee members, chaired by the reviewing attorney. Generally, these RG303 hearings are not even scheduled until January. They usually commence taking place in March and continue for several months. The RG303 hearings are informal in an attorney’s office but are nonetheless very serious as all witnesses are under oath. They are effectively a candidate’s “day in court.” These proceedings are confidential and not open to the public. A transcript is made but is not available for public disclosure.

Once the RG303 hearing is completed, more documents or information may be requested by the Committee. In addition, a transcript is ordered. Once all documents are received from the applicant, or third-party sources, the transcript is provided to the applicant and Panel members and an investigation is completed, Committee members participating in the RG303 hearing conduct discussions to determine what action they will recommend. Once a decision is made, a report is generated by the RG303 hearing Panel which makes recommendations as to what action should be taken regarding the application. The Panel could recommend certification, withholding of certification, certification with conditions, delay in certifying with the ability to reapply after passage of a stipulated period of time, i.e. one year or any other action that appears to the Panel to be appropriate to address the issues of concern in the applicant’s profile.

If the RG303 Panel recommends withholding certification, the candidate can appeal within 15 days. The appeal panel shall be three persons, at least one of which is a member of the Statewide Panel, on a papers only basis. This procedure is governed by RG304:1. If no appeal is taken, the RG303 report goes to the Statewide Panel which consists of the Statewide Chair and each of the six Part Chairs for a papers only review under RG304:2.. The Statewide Panel can either agree, disagree or modify the initial RG303 Panel report or remand for further information or findings. The Statewide RG304:2 recommendation then goes to the Supreme Court where the candidate has the right to file exceptions within 15 days. The Supreme Court is the full and final decider of all issues regarding character matters. It has full authority to act in any way it deems appropriate, including removing the matter from either RG303 or RG304 Panel consideration by issuing an Order to Show Cause.

Once a candidate is approved for admission to the bar, they are sworn in in any number of ways as long as a proper party administers the oath of allegiance to the Constitutions of the United States and the State of New Jersey. They are then entered on the rolls of licensed attorneys. In New Jersey, once you are admitted to the state courts, you are also automatically admitted to all federal district courts. Admission to other jurisdictions, federal, state or otherwise, and to federal appellate courts is regulated by those particular jurisdictions.

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Compensation Resources
The Committee Triggers NJ Comparison
The Licensing Process What I Can Do How I Get Paid