Student Attorney Practice Certification

Under the supervision of a licensed attorney, the Student Practice Certification Rules will allow a law student to perform the activities of an attorney in representing and appearing in court on behalf of a client. The Student Practice Rules can be found in the Minnesota Rules of Court.

For more info contact:

Rosalie Wahl Legal

Practice Center

Jean Backes

(651) 290-6351

There are two rules: Rule 1- General Student Practice, and Rule 2 – Clinical Student Practice. General information on the rules also can be found in your William Mitchell Student Handbook.

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible a student must be currently enrolled, have completed at least two semesters of full-time study (24 credits) and be in good academic standing (2.0 G.P.A). The rule also states that you must identify yourself as a student and be accepted by the client.

Rule 1 – General Practice Rule

Rule 1 applies to students working for a government agency or appearing on behalf of an indigent client. It does not apply to students working at private law firms representing clients for a fee. Students who work for private firms that contract to act on behalf of a government agency may be certified. For example, a firm that contracts to do public defender cases may ask that a student be certified to represent those clients.

The rule states that the government agency or persons representing an indigent client must submit in writing to the student’s law school the student’s name and a statement that the student will be properly supervised under the provisions of the rule. It is the responsibility of the employer to make the request to have the student certified. This requirement is found under Rule 1.03 of the Student Practice Rules.

Some prospective employers tell students that to be considered for a position, they must already be a student certified. However, since the employer must make the request, the process begins after a student is hired. If this question arises when applying for a position or at an interview, you may want to clarify to the employer that you meet the eligibility requirements of the rules, and, if hired, will be able to be certified (if you have a 2.0 G.P.A. and at least 24 credits.) Employers who hire first-year students for summer positions will not be able to have the student certified until the student’s grades are received by the Registrar’s office. The due date for grades is generally early June.

Your supervisor must send a letter (there is no form) to:

William Mitchell Law Clinic
Attn: Jean Backes
Administrative Coordinator for Clinics and Externships
875 Summit Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55105
Fax: 651- 290-6407

E-mail requests are not accepted

From the time the letter is received, the process generally takes ten business days. Your employer is notified by mail that the certification has been approved. You will be notified by e-mail with employer’s attached letter.

Rule 2 – Clinical Student Practice

This rule applies to students enrolled in a clinic course. Your name is automatically submitted to the Supreme Court if you are in a clinic where there may be an opportunity to represent a client. Students in externships such as District Court or Court of Appeals are not certified, as you will not be representing clients. After the drop/add period ends the first week of school, your name is sent to the attorney registration clerk. Within two weeks, you should be certified. You will not personally receive notification. By the third week of the semester, you may want to check the bulletin board outside the Rosalie Wahl Legal Practice Center, room 259, to verify that your name is on the list.

Certification under one rule does NOT certify you for the other rule

If you work for a government agency and are also enrolled in a clinic course, you need to be certified under each rule. The Supreme Court maintains a record of who is assuming responsibility for your activities in court. William Mitchell accepts that responsibility under Rule 2, Clinical Student Practice. However, your employer must accept that responsibility under Rule 1, General Student Practice. If you change jobs, your new employer must submit a letter to Jean Backes indicating your new supervision under the rule. If you leave a job where you have had certification, your employer should notify William Mitchell. This information will also be sent to the Supreme Court.

Certification Duration

Both Rule 1 and Rule 2 certifications remain in effect for 12 months. You may be re-certified for an additional 12 months by request. Certification could terminate sooner if certain events occur as stated in Rule 1.03 of the Student Practice Rules.

Certification after graduation

Rule 1 certifications may continue up to the date of the results of the first bar exam after your graduation. If you pass the bar, you will no longer need the student certification. If you don’t pass, your certification will terminate and you will no longer be able to represent clients.

If you want to continue to be certified under Rule 1 from the period of graduation to the day of the first bar exam results, it is extremely important that you make sure of your termination date and request to be re-certified before you graduate. The last day that you may request an extension on your student certification is the Friday before the graduation ceremony. After that date, you no longer meet the definition of “student” and the Supreme Court will no longer extend a request for student certification.

Make sure that you or your employer has a method of keeping track of your termination date. Neither William Mitchell nor the Supreme Court sends notice of expiration. It is your responsibility to know the expiration date and take appropriate action. A list of all certified students and the date of certification are posted on the bulletin board outside the Rosalie Wahl Legal Practice Center, room 259.