The Rules and Regulations Governing the Participation of Qualified Law Students and Qualified Unlicensed Law School Graduates in the Trial of Cases in Texas allows law students and graduates to obtain a temporary trial card in order to practice law in Texas on a limited basis.
Law students must be enrolled in a law school approved by the Supreme Court of Texas or be qualified unlicensed law school graduates. Students are not required to be enrolled during the summer term or when school is not in session.
Law students must certify in writing that he or she has read and is familiar with the Texas Code of Professional Responsibility, will abide by their provisions, and is subject tot the grievance procedures of the Texas Bar.
Law students are required to be certified by the law school Dean as having completed not less than two-thirds of the required curriculum for graduation (computed on an hourly basis) or not less than one-half of the required curriculum for graduation (computed on an hourly basis) if the student is enrolled in a clinical legal education course where credit is awarded. Students cannot be on scholastic probation. The law school Dean must also certify that the Dean has no knowledge of any facts that preclude the individual from meeting the qualifications to take the Texas bar exam.
Law school graduates have to be certified by the law school Dean as having graduated from an approved law school. The graduate may begin or continue supervised practice during the time period between graduation and the first offering of the Texas bar exam and after the Texas bar exam but before receiving the results of that exam.
Law students or graduates, upon approval by the presiding judge or officer, may appear in any court or administrative tribunal in Texas on behalf of the State of Texas or any other party consenting to the appearance. The following conditions apply:
- A supervising attorney who is qualified and duly licensed to practice law in Texas must accompany the law student or graduate in the following matters:
- Appearance for the purposes of trial of civil or criminal matters.
- Arguing motions.
- Taking depositions.
- Conducting any hearing or trial before any administrative tribunal or in any court.
- A supervising attorney does not need to accompany the law student or graduate in other matters assigned.
- The supervising attorney must sign all pleadings filed in any matter in which the law student or graduate is working.
Law students and graduates cannot charge a client for his or her services or claim or receive a percentage fee, contingency fee, or origination fee. The supervising attorney may pay the student or graduate and may charge a fee for the services rendered.
Supervising attorneys must:
- Be licensed by the Texas Supreme Court for a minimum of three years.
- Be properly registered.
- Assume personal professional responsibility for the direct and immediate supervision for the professional work of the qualified law student or qualified unlicensed law school graduate.
- Maintain professional malpractice and errors and omissions insurance covering the supervised qualified law student or qualified unlicensed law school graduate, unless the lawyer is supervising the student or the graduate in the lawyer’s official capacity as a public prosecutor or assistant public prosecutor or is a lawyer otherwise protected by governmental immunity.
- Not supervise more than four law students or graduates simultaneously.
- Demonstrate to the satisfaction of the General Counsel of the Texas Bar through his or her affidavit, or upon certification by local bar officials, that he or she is skilled in the preparation and trial of cases.
Supervising attorneys that are associated with a clinical legal education program where the student earns law school course credit must:
- Be licensed by the Texas Supreme Court.
- Be properly registered.
- Assume personal professional responsibility for the direct and immediate supervision for the professional work of the law student or graduate.
- Maintain professional malpractice and errors and omissions insurance covering the law student or graduate, unless the lawyer is supervising the student or the graduate in the lawyer’s official capacity as a public prosecutor or assistant public prosecutor or is a lawyer otherwise protected by governmental immunity.
- Be approved in writing by the law school Dean as a clinical supervisor under whose supervision qualified law students are allowed to receive credit for satisfactory completion of the established course and clinical practice requirements.
Application and Certification
Applicable forms can be found on the State Bar of Texas’s Website. The fee is $15.
The law school Dean must maintain on file a record of the certification of each qualified law student or graduate. The law school Dean must file the names with the General Counsel of the Texas Bar.
For supervising attorneys, the General Counsel of the Texas Bar will register attorneys who meet the requirements of the student practice rules and are certified by local bar officials as qualified ethically, morally, professionally, and financially to direct and supervise law students and graduates and provide practical training in the trial of cases. The Texas Bar will immediately revoke the supervising attorney registration for any lawyer against whom disciplinary action is pending before any grievance committee or court or no longer meets the eligibility requirements.
Applications are processed in five to ten business days.
The law school Dean must terminate the certification when the law student or graduate no longer meets the eligibility and application requirements, and he or she may terminate the certification at any time without prior notice or hearing and without any showing of cause.