Board of Bar Overseers
99 High Street (driving directions)
Boston, Massachusetts 02110
Tel: (617) 728-8700   
Fax 617-482-8000

Registration Dept:
617-728-8800

The Registration Department was established in 1974 as the administrative division responsible for attorney compliance with Rule 4:02 and Rule 4:03, which govern the annual registration of every attorney admitted to, or engaging in, the practice of law in this Commonwealth.

 

Links to Related Sites:

Office of BarCounsel and BBO Disciplinary Homepage
NEW: The SJC has made written fee agreements
mandatory effective 1/1/2013 Click here for more details

Supreme Judicial Court Clerk's Office

Clients' Security Board
Board of Bar Examiners
Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers
Massachusetts Interest on Lawyers' Trust Accounts (IOLTA)
Massachusetts Bar Association Homepage

Boston Bar Association

 


Can I print my registration statement on-line?

This system can generate a registration statement that can be completed and returned to the Board of Bar Overseers with the required registration fee. Please enter the BBO number of the attorney for whom you want to print the statement below. Click the button that says "Print the Registration Form."

PLEASE NOTE: If you print out your new quarterly bill shortly before it is mailed to you, you may still receive that bill and its enclosures by mail. Do not return this second registration statement, as long as you have filled out and returned your printout.
Attorney's 6-digit BBO#:

Can overseas attorneys wire their registration payments?

We offer electronic wire transfer as an alternative form of payment to the Massachusetts registered attorneys who are not residing in the United States and cannot conveniently pay by US$ check or money order. Please send an email to reg@massbbo.org for instructions.


What if I lose my bar card?

You can obtain a replacement bar card by writing or faxing to the Board of Bar Overseers, 99 High Street, Boston, Massachusetts, 02110, Attention: Registration, 617-482-8000.

There is a $10.00 charge for each replacement bar card. Payment may be made by check or money order, payable to the Board of Bar Overseers.


When am I due to register?

Your annual registration date is based on the billing cycle that was assigned when you initially registered with the Board of Bar Overseers.

Cycle 1 is due to register each September 1

Cycle 2 is due to register each December 1

Cycle 3 is due to register each March 1

Cycle 4 is due to register each June 1

If you registered as an Active attorney, you received a bar card that displays the expiration date of your annual registration. The expiration date is the date by which you are due to register. Your annual registration statement will be mailed on or before that expiration date. Please note that your card is valid for an additional forty-five days beyond the expiration date printed on it.
Any attorney registered with the Board of Bar Overseers can call the Registration Department at (617) 728-8800 to determine their annual billing cycle.

If you need further assistance, you may contact the Registration Department at 617-728-8800.


What is my Board of Bar Overseers number?

When you initially registered with the Board of Bar Overseers you were assigned a unique six-digit identifying number.

If you registered as an Active attorney, you received a bar card that displays your BBO number.

If you registered with Inactive, Retired, Judicial, Clerk or Foreign Legal Consultant status, or cannot recall your BBO number, you may contact the Registration Department for assistance at 617-728-8800.

If you are a new attorney, you will not be assigned a BBO number until you complete the registration process.


How do I become licensed to practice law in Massachusetts?

Detailed information about procedures can be obtained from Supreme Judicial Court Clerk's Office at 617-557-1050 or the Board of Bar Examiners at 617-482-4466. Admissions are governed by rule 3:01.


If I have been sworn in, but not yet received my bar card, can I begin practice?

Yes, although you may not be allowed to file an appearance in court, as courts require that your BBO registration number be added to a notice of appearance and all other pleadings filed. You should bear in mind, however, that you are required to register with the Board of Bar Overseers within ninety days after being sworn in.


What happens if I let my registration lapse?

Rule 4:02(3) Failure to File. Any attorney who fails to file the statement or any supplement thereto in accordance with the requirements of subsections (1) and (2) shall be subject to suspension in accordance with the procedures set forth in Rule 4:03.

Rule 4:03(3) Any attorney suspended under the provisions of subsection (2) shall become subject to the provisions of Rule 4:01, Section 17(4), upon entry of the suspension order, and if not reinstated within thirty days after entry shall become subject to the other provision of said Section 17. As a condition precedent to reinstatement, such attorney shall file with the Board an affidavit stating the extent to which he or she has complied with applicable provisions of Rule 4:01, Section 17, and shall pay all arrears due from the date of the last payment to the date of his or her request for reinstatement, including the late assessment of fifty dollars required under subsection (2) above, and shall also pay to the Board a penalty of one hundred dollars.

Rule 4:01, Section 17(4) The Board shall promptly transmit a copy of the order of temporary suspension, suspension, disbarment, resignation, or transfer to disability inactive status to the clerk of each court in the Commonwealth, state or federal, in which it has reason to believe the disciplined lawyer has been engaged in practice.


What is the new Access to Justice Fee?


How much is my registration fee?

Including the voluntary access to justice fee, the annual fee under Rule 4:03 is $271.00 for those admitted to the bar for five or fewer years; $71.00 for those admitted to the bar for more than fifty years, and $351.00 for all other active attorneys. For those who choose to opt out of the voluntary fee, the annual fee is $51.00 less. See Orders (effective September 1, 2006) and Note regarding amendment (effective September 1, 2010), below.

ORDERED: Effective September 1, 2006, the annual fee required under Rule 4:03 is established at the following rates for attorneys engaging in the practice of law in the Commonwealth: $220.00 for those admitted to the bar for five or fewer years as of September 1, 2006; $20.00 for those admitted to the bar for more than fifty years as of such date, and $300.00 for all other active attorneys. For each attorney who chooses inactive status, the annual fee shall be one-half of the fee he or she would pay if active. There shall be no fee for attorneys who retire from the practice of law, sitting judges, clerk-magistrates, as defined in Canon 1 of Supreme Judicial Court Rule 3:12, and Federal clerks of court, chief deputy clerks and deputy clerks.

ORDERED: Effective September 2006, the annual fee provided in Rule 4:03 for persons licensed to practice in this Commonwealth as foreign legal consultants shall be $300.00.

NOTE: The Supreme Judicial Court amended Rule 4:03 (1)(a) and (b) effective September 1, 2010 to add a voluntary annual access to justice fee of fifty-one dollars ($51.00) to attorneys' registration fees. The additional fee will be added to the fees shown below when attorneys receive their annual registration statement. Attorneys will be given the choice to opt out of the voluntary fee when they complete their annual registrations.

INFORMATION FOR NEWLY ADMITTED ATTORNEYS

The initial registration fee for new attorneys is as follows:

Active attorneys: $165.00

Inactive attorneys: $82.50

This fee will cover registration until the beginning of the billing cycle to which you are assigned, at which time you will be billed either $220.00 or $110,00, depending upon whether you register as active or inactive. Please see the chart below to determine your billing cycle.

Month of Admission

Billing Cycle

Billing Date

December-February

Cycle 2

Dec 1

March-May

Cycle 3

March 1

June-August

Cycle 4

June 1

September-November

Cycle 1

September 1

 

OTHER FEES:

Reinstatement fee (after administrative suspension): $100.00

Returned Check Charge $ 25.00

What are the different registration statuses and the implications of accepting non-active status?

1: SUMMARY

Attorneys eligible to practice law in Massachusetts may choose one of six statuses: Active, Inactive, Retired, Clerk, Judicial, or Pro Bono.

Attorneys choosing "Active" status are allowed to practice law within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. They will be issued bar cards.

Attorneys choosing "Inactive", "Retired", "Clerk" , "Judicial" or "Foreign Legal Consultant" status are not allowed to practice law within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. They will not be issued bar cards.

Attorneys choosing “Probono Retired" or “Probono Inactive” status are allowed to provide pro bono publico legal services under the auspices of approved legal service organizations, but are not allowed to perform legal services for any other person or entity. They will be issued bar cards. For additional information on pro bono status, please go to the following link: link to 4:02 (8)(a)

If you are changing to a status other than "active," and you are considering applying for reciprocal admission in another jurisdiction, the Board recommends that you contact the other jurisdiction before requesting the status change. The jurisdiction to which you are applying may require that you be registered under active status for a set period in another jurisdiction before approving your request.

If you desire to change your status or have questions regarding a specific status, please write or fax the Board of Bar Overseers, 99 High Street, Boston, Massachusetts, 02110 ; Fax: 617-482-8000.
Please include your full name, Board of Bar Overseers number, and daytime phone number.

2: DETAILS

Registration statuses are defined in rules 4:02, 4:03 and 3:12 of the Massachusetts Rules of Court.

Rule 4:02

(4) Inactive Status.

(a) Any attorney may advise the Board in writing that he or she desires to assume inactive status and to discontinue the practice of law in this Commonwealth. Upon the filing of such notice, the attorney shall no longer be eligible to practice law in this Commonwealth but shall continue to file annual registration statements for as long as he or she remains on inactive status. The attorney, however, shall pay the fee imposed pursuant to Rule 4:03 for inactive attorneys.

(b) Upon the filing of a notice that he or she wishes to assume inactive status, an attorney shall be removed from the rolls of those classified as active until and unless he or she requests reinstatement to the active rolls and pays for the year of reinstatement the fee imposed pursuant to Rule 4:03 for active attorneys.

(5) Retirement.

(a) Any attorney may advise the Board in writing that he or she desires to retire from the bar and to discontinue the practice of law in this Commonwealth. Upon the filing of such notice, the attorney shall no longer be eligible to practice law in this Commonwealth but shall continue to file registration statements for three years thereafter in order that he or she can be located in the event complaints are made about his or her conduct while he or she was engaged in practice in this Commonwealth. The attorney, however, will be relieved from the payment of the fees imposed pursuant to Rule 4:03.

(b) Upon the filing of a notice that he or she wishes to retire from the bar, an attorney shall be removed from the rolls of those classified as active until and unless he or she requests reinstatement to the active rolls and pays the fee imposed pursuant to Rule 4:03 for active attorneys for each of the years during which he or she was retired from the bar.

(6) Judicial Status.

(a) Any attorney who sits as a judge of any state or Federal court may advise the Board in writing that he or she is a sitting judge and desires to discontinue the practice of law in this Commonwealth. Upon the filing of such a notice, the attorney will be placed on judicial status and will be relieved from the payment of the fees imposed pursuant to Rule 4:03.

(b) Upon the filing of a notice that he or she has left the bench and wishes to be reinstated to the active roll and upon payment for the year of reinstatement of the fee imposed pursuant to Rule 4:03 for active attorneys, an attorney on judicial status shall be so reinstated.

(7) Clerk Status.

(a) Any "clerk-magistrate," as defined in Canon 1 of Supreme Judicial Court Rule 3:12, and any Federal clerk of court, chief deputy clerk and deputy clerk may advise the Board in writing that he or she is a clerk. Upon the filing of such a notice, the attorney will be placed on clerk status and will be relieved from the payment of the fees imposed pursuant to Rule 4:03.

(b) Upon the filing of a notice that he or she is no longer a clerk and wishes to be reinstated to the active rolls and upon payment for the year of reinstatement of the fee imposed pursuant to Rule 4:03 for active attorneys, an attorney on clerk status shall be so reinstated.

 (8) Pro Bono Status.

(a) Any attorney admitted to the practice of law in the Commonwealth who has assumed inactive status in accordance with Rule 4:02(4) but who wishes to provide pro bono publico legal services without compensation or expectation of compensation as described in Rule 6.1 of the Massachusetts Rules of Professional Conduct (S.J.C. Rule 3:07) may advise the Board by filing an appropriate annual registration statement that he or she will limit his or her legal practice to providing pro bono publico legal services under the auspices of an approved legal services organization, as defined below.  The annual registration statement shall indicate whether the attorney is, or was at the time he or she assumed inactive status, the subject of any pending grievance or disciplinary charge and shall be signed by an authorized representative of the approved legal services organization under whose auspices the attorney will provide services. Unless the Board of Bar Overseers objects, the attorney may begin providing pro bono services after filing such a statement.

(b) Any attorney admitted to the practice of law in the Commonwealth who has retired from the bar and discontinued the practice of law in this Commonwealth in accordance with Rule 4:02(5) may advise the Board by filing an appropriate annual registration statement that he or she will limit his or her legal practice to providing pro bono publico legal services without compensation or expectation of compensation as described in Rule 6.1 of the Massachusetts Rules of Professional Conduct (S.J.C. Rule 3:07) under the auspices of an approved legal services organization, as defined below.  The annual registration statement shall indicate whether the attorney is, or was at the time he or she retired, the subject of any pending grievance or disciplinary charge and shall be signed by an authorized representative of an approved legal services organization under whose auspices the attorney will provide services.  Unless the Board of Bar Overseers objects, the attorney may begin providing pro bono services after filing such a statement.

(c) For purposes of this Rule, an approved legal services organization shall include a pro bono publico legal services program sponsored by a court-annexed program, a bar association, a Massachusetts law school, or a not-for-profit organization that provides legal services to persons of limited means and that receives funding from the federal Legal Services Corporation, the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation, the Massachusetts Bar Foundation, the Boston Bar Foundation, or the Women's Bar Foundation, and in addition, shall include any not-for-profit legal services organization designated as an approved legal services organization after petition to the Supreme Judicial Court.
 

Who is eligible for Clerk status?

 

RULE 3:12 - CODE OF PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR CLERKS OF THE COURTS

 

CANON 1. PURPOSE AND APPLICABILITY

The word "Clerk-Magistrate" in this Code, unless otherwise expressly provided, shall mean anyone serving in the position of Clerk-Magistrate, Clerk, Register, Recorder, Assistant Clerk-Magistrate, Assistant Clerk, Assistant Register, or Deputy Recorder, in the Supreme Judicial Court, the Appeals Court, or a Department of the Trial Court of the Commonwealth, whether elected or appointed, and whether serving in a permanent or temporary capacity. The words "elected Clerk-Magistrate" shall also include a person who is appointed to complete the term of an elected Clerk-Magistrate. The word "court" in this Code shall mean the Supreme Judicial Court, the Appeals Court, a particular division of a Department of the Trial Court, or a particular Department of the Trial Court if the Department does not have divisions. (Adopted February 9, 1990, effective April 1, 1990.)

Please be advised that law clerks, career law clerks and judicial law clerks are not exempt from the fees imposed by Rule 4:03. In order to file under judicial status, you must be a judge of a court, not of an agency.


What is my balance?

You may determine your balance as of the last posting and review your other registration data by logging on to the online registration system here. You can pay your balance, or correct your registration data, or simply note the balance and cancel, as you wish. The balance is shown when you scroll to the bottom of the form.


How do I obtain a Certificate of Good Standing in Massachusetts?

OBTAINING A CERTIFICATE OF GOOD STANDING

 

To obtain a Certificate of Admission and Good Standing, please contact the Supreme Judicial Court Clerk's Office at http://www.mass.gov/courts/court-info/sjc/about/clerks-suffolk-county.

How do I obtain a grievance or disciplinary history letter?


To obtain a letter of grievance or a letter of disciplinary history, please submit a request in writing. You may e-mail the request to reg@massbbo.org or mail or fax the request to the following address:


Board of Bar Overseers
Registration Department
99 High Street
Boston, MA 02110

Fax number: 617-482-8000

Please include the following in your request:

  1. The jurisdiction or state for which you are applying for admission.
  2. The address of the jurisdiction for which you are applying for admission. If you are applying in New York, please specify the judicial department.
  3. If you are requesting a letter for any reason other than admission, please state the address of the organization which requested the above letter (e.g. prospective employer, university, etc.)

Can I assume Pro Bono Status?


Any attorney who wishes to provide pro bono legal services under the auspices of an approved legal services organization may register for inactive pro bono status or retirement pro bono status. Attorneys choosing “Probono Retired or "Probono Inactive" status are not allowed to perform legal services for any person or entity other than the approved legal services organization that signed their registration form. Pro bono inactive attorneys will still be required to pay the annual registration fee paid by attorneys registered under inactive status. Specific requirements for registering under these statuses, as well as the registration forms, can be found at the following link: link to 4:02 (8)(a)

You can apply for Pro Bono status by using either
the Inactive Attorney Pro Bono Status Application Form
 or the Retired Attorney Pro-Bono Status Application Form.

If you have questions about registering under pro bono status, contact:

   Michael Fredrickson, General Counsel
   Board of Bar Overseers
   617-728-8700

How do I register under In-House Counsel Status?


Any attorney who is practicing as an in-house counsel in Massachusetts is required to register annually with the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers under SJC Rule 4:02 (9), and to pay an annual registration fee. Information about the rule can be found at here . First-time registration forms and answers to frequently asked questions can be found here. In-house counsel renewal registration forms can be found here.


What is IOLTA?

INTEREST ON LAWYERS' TRUST ACCOUNTS

All client funds must be deposited in one of two types of interest-bearing accounts: a pooled IOLTA account, or an individual client account. A pooled IOLTA account contains all client funds which, in the judgment of the lawyer, are either nominal in amount or are to be held for a short period of time. An individual client account, separately established for each client, is used for all other client funds. Interest earned on pooled IOLTA accounts is transferred by the bank to the IOLTA Committee. Interest earned on individual client account accrues to the benefit of the individual client and is payable as directed by the client. For further information on IOLTA, please contact the IOLTA Committee at 617-723-9093.

How can I update my IOLTA information?

 

You can print out the IOLTA update form clicking here. Fill it out, sign it and mail it to:


Board of Bar Overseers
Registration Department
99 High Street
Boston, MA 02110


How can I update my professional liability insurance information?

 

You can print out the professional liability insurance update form clicking here. Fill it out, sign it and mail it to:


Board of Bar Overseers
Registration Department
99 High Street
Boston, MA 02110


How must I register a name change?

In order to register a name change you must: 1) Request a name change affidavit from the Supreme Judicial Court Clerk's Office; 2) Complete the affidavit and attach a copy of the marriage certificate or any court documents verifying the change; and 3) Send the affidavit to the Supreme Judicial Court Clerk's office, which will notify the Board of Bar Overseers of the change. (Please note the Board of Bar Overseers will not process a name change until notified by the Supreme Judicial Court Clerk's office.) The telephone number of the Clerk's Office is (617) 557-1050 or you may use the Clerk's Office's website at www.sjccountyclerk.com to obtain the form.


How can I get advice on a matter of professional ethics?

The Office of Bar Counsel will answer ethical questions Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays between the hours of 2:00 pm and 4:00 pm. Call 617-728-8750.


How do I resign from the Bar?

Resignation. There are two ways to resign from the practice of in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. First, lawyers under investigation for misconduct may submit a disciplinary resignation under Supreme Judicial Court Rule 4:01, Section 15. Second, if you are in good standing and you wish to resign voluntarily from the bar, the General Counsel will place your request before the Board, which will make a recommendation to the Court. It is the Board's practice to hold such requests for six months in case disciplinary charges surface. This kind of resignation will also have the effect of removing your name from the rolls and would likely require you to take and pass the bar examination and fulfill other requirements for readmission should you decide to return to the practice of law in Massachusetts.

> Alternatively, you may elect Retirement Status, for which you do not pay an annual fee, in the event you deem it unlikely you would be practicing law in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the future. You obtain the same result without all the negative effects of an actual resignation from the bar. If you wish to resume active status from retirement, however, you are required to pay the active fee for all the years while on retirement status.

If you wish to resign from the bar, please forward your request to:

Michael Fredrickson
General Counsel
Board of Bar Overseers
99 High Street
Boston, MA 02110


What is the residential address and residential telephone number for this attorney?
In order to insure the safety and privacy of attorneys licensed to practice in this Commonwealth, residential addresses and phone numbers are not released to the public.

Where did this attorney attend law school?
What types of law does this attorney practice?
How many cases has this attorney won/lost?
For active attorneys, the Board of Bar Overseers provides information on the attorney's date of admission to the Massachusetts bar, the business/mailing address, whether or not the attorney has professional liability insurance, and any public discipline which the attorney has received.

For inactive and retired attorneys, the Board provides information on the attorney's date of admission to the Massachusetts bar, the city and date of the business/mailing address, and any public discipline which the attorney has received.

The Board does not collect or maintain information about an attorney's law school, area of practice or the win/loss ratio of cases. You may wish to contact the attorney for this information, or investigate other sources for attorney data on the internet.