Section XV and Section XVI of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Georgia allow third-year law students and recent law school graduates to assist in proceedings within Georgia as if licensed to practice in Georgia. Law school graduates may participate under the supervision of the Attorney General, a district attorney, a solicitor general of a state court, a solicitor of municipal court, a public defender, or a licensed practicing attorney who works or volunteers for a court or a non-profit organization that provides free legal representation to indigent persons or children. Students are eligible to practice for no longer than one year.
Title 17, Chapter 12, Article 3 of the Georgia Rules of Criminal Procedure also allows third-year law students and full-time professional staff instructors to assist circuit public defenders.
The applicant must be:
All pleadings and other entries of record must be signed by the Attorney General, a district attorney, solicitor general, solicitor, public defender, or duly appointed assistant attorney general, assistant district attorney, assistant solicitor general, assistant solicitor, assistant public defender, or licensed practicing attorney. This individual has to be personally present for any practice before any grand jury investigation, administrative proceeding, hearing, trial, or other proceeding.
The law school Dean must certify the third-year law student meets the requirements of the student practice rules.
Law school graduates must present the certificate to the judge of the trial court where the graduate intends to assist in proceedings. The graduate may be authorized to participate in the proceeding in such form and manner as the judge prescribes.
The supervising attorney will ensure the third-year law student or law school graduate is covered by adequate malpractice insurance.
Law school graduate applicants are required to submit the Petition and mail it with a copy of the Certificate of Fitness to Practice Law. Applicants should allow five business days for the Petition to be processed and must take the prescribed oath.
The third-year law student is eligible to practice for no longer than one year. If there is any change in circumstances in the law student’s law school enrollment, the authority to practice terminates.
The law school graduate is eligible to practice until the end of the month (October or May) in which the results of the first Georgia bar exam that the applicant is eligible is published.
If the Board to Determine Fitness of Bar Applicants, or a similar board from another state, denies or tentatively denies the graduate’s application, the law school graduate must notify the judge of the trial court where he or she is assisting and authorized practice is terminated.
A “third-year law student” means a student regularly enrolled and in good standing in a law school within or outside of Georgia who has satisfactorily completed at least two-thirds of the requirements for the first professional degree in law (J.D. or its equivalent) in not less than four semesters or six quarters of residence.
A “staff instructor” means a full-time professional staff instructor of a law school in Georgia who has been admitted to the bar of another state but who has not yet been admitted to the bar of Georgia.
Law students and instructors are not required to possess the qualifications for appointment to the office of circuit public defender or appointment as an assistant circuit public defender as provided in Article 1 of this Chapter 12.
Law students and staff instructors must practice under the supervision of a circuit public defender. Under such supervision, the student or instructor may assist in the criminal proceeding within Georgia as if admitted and licensed to practice law in Georgia. A “criminal proceeding” means any investigation, trial, juvenile proceeding, adjudicatory hearing, or other legal proceeding by which a person’s liability for a crime is investigated or determined, commencing with the investigation and including the final disposition of the case. The supervising public defender, or appointed assistant, must sign all pleadings and other entries of record. The supervising public defender, or appointed assistant, must also be physically present for any trials.
Law students must submit a Dean’s Certificate, the Student’s and Instructor’s Oaths, and the Judge’s order as contemplated under Code Section 17-12-42 to be kept on file in the office of the clerk of court in the county where the authorization is permitted (see above).
Authorization to practice cannot last longer than 18 months. If during this period any change (ceases enrollment/employment, suspension, expulsion), the authorization is terminated and revoked.