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BAR ADMISSIONS



The next admission ceremony in the 4th Department will be held on January 14, 2015. To be eligible for admission on this date all applications must be complete and be postmarked on or before October 3, 2014.


Letter to Candidates



Overview

           Admission Upon Examination

           Pro Bono Requirements for Admission to Practice

           Admission Without Examination (Reciprocity)

           Character and Fitness Committee Investigation

                       Committee Approval

                       Committee Denial or Deferral

                       Petition for Advance Ruling

           Certificates of Admission in Good Standing


Application for Admission

            Questionaire Form and Related Documents


Name Change

           Affidavit of Name Change

Overview

Attorneys are admitted to the practice of law in New York State by one of the four Appellate Divisions of the Supreme Court (Judiciary Law § 90 [1]). Each Appellate Division is responsible for evaluating the character and fitness of candidates for admission who have been certified to a particular Court by the State Board of Law Examiners. Generally, applicants for admission certified to the Fourth Department either sat for the bar examination in the Fourth Department or reside in the department. The Fourth Department encompasses 22 counties within the Fifth, Seventh, and Eighth Judicial Districts of New York. The Court has created a Committee on Character and Fitness in each of the three judicial districts in the Fourth Department (CPLR 9401).

A candidate for admission to the bar, whether seeking admission after successfully completing the New York State Bar Examination and the Multi-State Professional Responsibility Examination (M.P.R.E.), or seeking admission on motion from a reciprocal jurisdiction, must be certified by the appropriate Committee on Character and Fitness and approved by the Court. Committee members are attorneys and judges who have been appointed by the Court to serve for indefinite terms. The Committees are assisted by Court staff.



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Admission Upon Examination

After completion of the February and July bar exams each year, the State Board of Law Examiners provides to the Court a list of individuals who sat for the examination in the Fourth Department. The Court then mails application materials and instructions to each individual on the list, which includes a deadline date for submission of completed applications. Applicants seeking admission to the bar by the Fourth Department need not wait until after the results of the bar examination have been issued before filing an application (22 NYCRR 1022.34 [a]), and, in fact, are encouraged to submit applications prior to such notification.

All applicants must file an application questionnaire, with supporting documentation. Only complete applications will be accepted for filing. A complete application consists of the application questionnaire, all required accompanying forms and supporting documentation, including two Affidavits of Good Moral Character, and Legal Employment Affidavits from every law-related position held, including paid or unpaid internships, summer associate positions, and volunteer work in law school clinics or elsewhere. The application materials also include law school certificates that the applicant is required to fill out and send to every law school attended. The law school then fills out its portion of the form and sends it directly to the Appellate Division.

After the bar examination has been graded, the State Board of Law Examiners officially certifies to the Court a list of applicants who have passed both the New York State Bar and M.P.R.E. examinations. Upon receipt of the certification list, the Court sends each applicant information regarding the required character and fitness interview and the date and location of the next regularly scheduled admission ceremony.

Each application filed with the Fourth Department is reviewed by Court staff for completeness and applicants are notified in writing of missing documentation. Complete applications are then forwarded to the appropriate Committee for review and investigation (22 NYCRR 1022.34 [b]). The Committees hold general interview sessions in Syracuse, Rochester, and Buffalo, prior to the February and June bar admission ceremonies.



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Admission Without Examination (Reciprocity)

Attorneys admitted in other jurisdictions seeking admission in New York without examination (reciprocity) should refer to the applicable court rules (22 NYCRR Part 520). All applicants must first apply to the New York State Board of Law Examiners (http://www.nybarexam.org) for a certification that the applicant has the necessary legal education for admission without examination. Upon approval by the Board, applicants with addresses in the Fifth, Seventh, and Eighth Judicial Districts will be certified to the Fourth Department. Upon certification, the applicant must file with the Court an affidavit demonstrating eligibility for admission on motion (see 22 NYCRR 520.10). If the Court determines, upon review of the affidavit, that the applicant is eligible for admission on motion, the applicant will be provided with the application for admission package and instructions. The application and instructions are also available on the Court’s website. Upon receipt of a complete application, the applicant will then be asked to report for a personal interview with the appropriate Committee on Character and Fitness for the judicial district in which the applicant resides or works.



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Character and Fitness Committee Investigation

The Committee may itself conduct the required investigation, including an interview of the applicant, or it may authorize the chair or acting chair of the Committee to designate one of more members of the Committee to conduct the investigation and to make a recommendation to the committee (22 NYCRR 1022.34 [d]). In reviewing an application, the Committee, or a member or members of the Committee conducting the investigation, may require the applicant to provide additional information or proofs of good character (id.).

Each applicant is interviewed by at least one member of the Committee, generally during an interview session that is scheduled for a specific day in each judicial district. General interview sessions are usually held in January for the July bar examination group and late May or early June for the February bar examination group. In some cases, an applicant may be interviewed by more than one member of the Committee and some applications may be held for discussion at a later date or for a formal hearing.



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Committee Approval

Each application for admission must be approved by a quorum of the Committee, consisting of not less than five members (22 NYCRR 1022.34 [c]). After approval of an application, the chair or acting chair must certify to the Appellate Division on behalf of the Committee that the applicant possesses the requisite character and fitness (22 NYCRR 1022.34 [e]). Applications that are certified by the Committee are returned to the Court and presented for approval to a member of the Court. Applicants who are approved by the Court are notified by Court staff and are required to appear before the Court on a specified date to take the constitutional oath of office as an Attorney and Counselor-at-Law.



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Committee Denial or Deferral

In the event that an application is not approved, the rules of the Court provide a formal process for review of the recommendations and decisions of the Committees and subcommittees. The process includes an evidentiary hearing (22 NYCRR 1022.34 [f]).



Petition for Advance Ruling

A prospective bar applicant who has previously been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor; who has been suspended, removed or dismissed from public office or employment; or who has been dishonorably discharged from the armed services of the United States, may petition the Fourth Department for an advance ruling as to whether such circumstance would operate to disqualify the applicant, on character grounds, from being admitted (22 NYCRR 1022.34 [o]). Such petitions are referred to the applicable Committee for investigation and recommendation and to the Court for subsequent determination (id.). If the Court renders an adverse ruling or declines to rule, its determination is without prejudice to the right of the petitioner, after passing the bar examination, to apply for a favorable ruling with respect to character and fitness and, ultimately, for admission to the bar (id.). Please note that only matriculated law students or individuals who have applied for admission to law school are eligible to petition for an advance ruling.



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Certificates of Admission in Good Standing

A Certificate of Admission in Good Standing attests that an attorney was licensed and admitted to practice in the courts of this state on a given date, has registered with the Office of Court Administration (OCA), and is in “good standing,” that is, the attorney is not currently suspended or disbarred.

Certificates of Good Standing will only be issued by the Appellate Division where the attorney was admitted.

Certificates are issued only to those who are current with OCA registration and biennial registration fees.

Certificates may be requested in writing to:

         Admissions Office
         Appellate Division, Fourth Department
         M. Dolores Denman Courthouse
         50 East Avenue, Suite 200
         Rochester, New York 14604

or, may be requested by completing the online form.



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Name Change

An attorney may not practice law under a name other than the name under which the attorney was admitted absent formal approval by the Appellate Division for the Department where the attorney was admitted.

An attorney admitted in the Fourth Department who is seeking a name change must submit a form affidavit (name change form), along with the required supporting documentation (marriage license; court order; judgment of divorce, etc.) to:

         Admissions Office
         Appellate Division, Fourth Department
         M. Dolores Denman Courthouse
         50 East Avenue, Suite 200
         Rochester, New York 14604

The Court will notify applicants in writing regarding the determination of the application. Although the Court will notify the Office of Court Administration of an approved name change, attorneys should include a copy of the notice approving a name change in their next registration renewal.

Please be advised that attorneys seeking a name change who are not in good standing for any reason or, if other circumstances warrant, may be required to proceed by formal motion to the Court.



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