For Those Who Pass the Michigan Bar Exam: How to Design a Your Perfect Michigan Bar Exam Swearing-In Ceremony

A picture of the Macomb County Swearing In Ceremony.

A picture of the Macomb County Swearing-In Ceremony.

First of all, congratulations on passing the Michigan Bar Exam!

Your final step to becoming a lawyer eligible to practice law is a swearing-in ceremony. A swearing-in ceremony basically marks the transition from law student to lawyer (although you will not be able to practice right away—you still have to wait for your P number, which usually takes about a week to get!). If you are completely unfamiliar with what a swearing-in ceremony is, read this blog post on the basics of a Michigan bar exam swearing-in ceremony.

For Those Who Pass the Michigan Bar Exam: How to Design a Your Perfect Michigan Bar Exam Swearing-In Ceremony

Many students prefer private swearing-in ceremonies, when possible.  We have been to plenty of public and private swearing-in ceremonies. We found that both private and public swearing-in ceremonies are nice (and short!) and celebratory. The private swearing-in ceremonies are sometimes preferable though as they tend to be more intimate, students can choose a date and time that is convenient for them and their families, and students can invite as many people as they want (in theory, you can invite more than a few people to a public swearing-in ceremony too, but it might be harder to find seats and some courts limit the number of people you can invite!).

If you would prefer to have a private ceremony for your Michigan bar exam swearing-in ceremony, here are the steps to creating the perfect ceremony:

(1) Find the Right Judge.  Is there a circuit court judge who you admire and respect? If you do not know any judges personally, ask any attorneys you know if they know any judges who would be willing to conduct a private swearing-in ceremony. It is one of the few “happy occasions” for judges to be involved in (since they usually just listen to parties argue all day!), so we have found that usually they are willing to conduct a swearing-in ceremony. Note: if you have a district court judge you want to ask to conduct your swearing-in ceremony, simply call and ask them if they are able to. We have been to ceremonies lead by district court judges. The judge simply has to get approval to have the powers granted to a circuit court judge for the day (or the hour) so that they can conduct your ceremony!

(2) Find the Right Sponsor. Any attorney licensed in the state of Michigan can be your sponsor for your Michigan bar exam swearing-in ceremony. Choose a friend, a family member, a former or present boss…any attorney who means a lot to you. Asking them to be your sponsor should be a huge honor for them as well as you. For students who absolutely cannot choose between two potential sponsors, we have witnessed swearing-in ceremonies where an applicant will have two co-sponsors (although we think it is best to pick just one).

Sponsors will usually say a few brief sentences about you at your swearing-in ceremony. At private swearing-in ceremonies, your sponsor can generally talk for as long as they want about why you will make a good lawyer (whereas at public swearing-in ceremonies, their speeches are usually limited for time-saving purposes). Don’t necessarily expect a super-long speech though. Some sponsors are brief no matter what kind of ceremony they are at — they get nervous too!

(3) Invite the People you Want to Be There. Some students only invite their close family members to make it a small, intimate swearing-in ceremony of 3-5 people. Others seem to invite every person they know! I have been to swearing-in ceremonies where the courtroom is packed full with about 50 people. Design the kind of ceremony that suits you best.

Note for those invited to a swearing-in ceremony: If you are invited to a swearing-in ceremony, there is no need to bring any gifts- although if you want to bring something, bring something like flowers or a card. Otherwise, just dress nicely and be happy you are invited. Private swearing-in ceremonies don’t take very long (maybe 30 minutes at most), although many applicants will have lunch with close friends and family members after.

(4) Talk to the Judge Ahead of Time. We have found some judges conduct swearing-in ceremonies in the middle of their day – and call them as cases in the middle of all of their docket! This is much less personal, as you will be with a room full of attorneys and their clients who are waiting to argue motions or get their pretrials over with. This is not the norm, but we have seen it happen. If you want your swearing-in ceremony to be truly private, make sure that the judge is on the same pages as you. Also, make sure that you take care of anything you need to ahead of time. If you are being sworn in at the Wayne County Circuit Court, you will probably have to go yourself to get the motion/order from the clerk prior to your ceremony (and prepare to wait in line!).

(5) Get ready. Most applicants wear a suit to their Michigan bar exam swearing-in ceremony. It is a formal occasion.  We recommend you do so as well. Make sure you have a method of payment as well since you will also be expected to make a payment to the clerk. It is also a good idea to plan a celebratory lunch afterward at a place near whatever courthouse you will be at.

For an overview of some of the public Michigan bar exam swearing-in ceremonies, again please see this blog post on the basics of a Michigan bar exam swearing-in ceremony.

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    A Description of the Swearing-In Ceremonies in Michigan -

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