Today, the Supreme Court announced an amendment to Rule 1:21-3(b). That rule has, until now, permitted third-year law students at ABA-approved law schools to appear before trial courts or agencies in conjunction with a legal services or public interest organization or law school clinic certified under Rule 1:21-11(b)(1), or an agency of municipal, county, or state government certified under Rule 1:21-11(b)(3). The amended rule announced today inserts “the Appellate Division” as another venue before which third-year law students may appear in conjunction with such organizations or agencies.
Rule 1:21-3(b) also applies to law graduates who have not passed the New Jersey bar examination and who are acting in conjunction with legal services, public interest organizations, law school clinics, or a government agency. However, the ability of such graduates to appear under that rule terminates, by the rule’s express terms, “upon the graduate’s failure to pass the bar examination for the third time, or after two years of employment following graduation, whichever is sooner.” Subject to that limitation, law school graduates who have not yet passed the bar examination may now, like third-year law students, appear before the Appellate Division.
Third Circuit Local Appellate Rule 46.3 provides for law students who have completed at least four semesters of law school, and who have represented an indigent in a District Court or before an administrative agency, to enter an appearance at the Third Circuit. There are a number of additional requirements in that rule, including the need for a supervising attorney, that are not present in Rule 1:21-3(b). Evidently, the Supreme Court’s experience with third-year law students appearing in trial courts and before administrative agencies did not require the Court to impose a regime that parallels that of the Third Circuit.