Now that you have graduated from law school and passed the bar exam, you are ready to begin your professional career. However, there’s one more small step: your lawyer swearing-in ceremony! In many jurisdictions, this is the final step before “officially” becoming a lawyer. If you are unfamiliar with the process, here’s a general description:
What is a Lawyer Swearing-In Ceremony?
Note that everything in this post is a general description of a lawyer swearing-in ceremony. You should always check your jurisdiction’s rules to verify whether the swearing-in ceremony will be different than described below.
What happens at the ceremony?
Generally speaking, another lawyer will make a motion to have you admitted to your state’s bar. Many people like to designate someone specially, like a relative or mentor who is already an attorney. However, if you do not have someone like this, do not worry! The state will usually provide someone for you to make the motion. Near the end of the ceremony, the judge will grant the motion and you will officially be sworn-in!
You will also have to pay a fee. In some states it is $20. Check your jurisdiction’s requirements. Note that just because you have attended a swearing-in ceremony, does not, in many states mean that you are licensed. In some states, you still have to await for an attorney number (like a P number) or bar card prior to being permitted to practice.
What should I wear, and who can I bring?
The swearing-in ceremony is a professional event, so wearing a suit is appropriate. Some women wear nice dresses in lieu of a suit but a suit is the most common.
In terms of who can attend, this may be limited by which court you attend. Confirm with your court if there is a limit on guests. For larger jurisdictions, there will be more people being inducted, so if you plan on bringing several people, make sure to arrive early. If you have a private swearing-in ceremony judges often allow you to bring as many people as you want. (But ask ahead!)
Is there any way to make it special?
Try to arrange a private swearing-in ceremony. It is possible to arrange a private swearing-in ceremony, if you happen to know a judge who is willing to perform it. It will probably be held in that judge’s courtroom. Note, though, that in this instance, you will most likely have to provide your own sponsor. You will also be at the mercy of that judge’s schedule. Sometimes, they will schedule your ceremony as a case in their docket. So make sure to speak with them beforehand if you have any special requests.
Bring a camera! Most courtrooms will allow you to bring a camera or a phone (with a camera) into the courtroom with you. Sometimes you will have to get a special order from a judge ahead of time in order to do this. Ask ahead of time.
Plan a lunch or gathering after the ceremony. The ceremony itself will be quite short. Planning a lunch or get-together post-ceremony will be a nice added touch and will give you an additional chance to celebrate.
I am a relative or friend or sponsor of someone being sworn in. Should I bring a gift?
If you are a relative or friend, wearing business casual clothes is appropriate. Many women wear dresses and men wear dress pants and a nice shirt. A gift is optional. You could bring flowers, or something like a nice pen, a business card holder, or something similar.
Ashley Heidemann scored over a 180 on the Michigan Bar Exam in February of 2011. She scored a 180 on the MBE and a 184 on the essay portion. Ashley, as well as a team of tutors offer private one-on-one tutoring for bar exam students nationwide. She offers Uniform Bar Exam tutoring services and has helped hundreds of students pass the bar exam. For any questions about her bar exam services, please click here.