Practical Training of Law Students (PTLS)

The State Bar of California's Practical Training of Law Students (PTLS) program certifies law students to provide legal services under the supervision of an attorney.

Students interested in the PTLS program should read the Rules Governing the Practical Training of Law Students and all instructions for certification (below). For additional assistance, send an email to PTLS@calbar.ca.gov or call 415-538-2175.

Effective July 1, 2010, an applicant intending to file a PTLS application must first be registered as a law student with The State Bar of California’s Office of Admissions.  Go to law student registration (for students not previously registered).

To apply for PTLS certification, new applicants must submit the following:

  1. PTLS Student Application, Student Application Instructions
  2. PTLS Declaration by Supervising Attorney 
  3. Declaration by Dean of Law School 
  4. $55 non-refundable application fee, made payable to The State Bar of California

All four items must be submitted together. Any documents received separately will be returned.

NOTE: The Student Application should only be used if you have NOT been previously certified by your current employer. (If you have been previously certified, and need to extend your certification under your current supervising attorney, submit the Extension of Period of Supervision form ONLY.)

PLEASE NOTE:

  • You will receive a reply by email or fax (sent in care of your supervising attorney) within one month of the date the State Bar receives a complete and accurate application.
  • If the application is not completed accurately, it will be returned to you.
  • Retain a copy of your application and rules governing the PTLS program.
  • Rule 9.42 - CA Rules of Court Certified Law Students
  • Credit Card Form
  • Fees List
  • Draft Consent Form

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the Practical Training of Law Students (PTLS) Program?

The Practical Training of Law Students (PTLS) program allows a certified law student to perform permitted activities under the supervision of a supervising attorney.

2. What is required to become a certified student? 

A student must have completed one full year of law school (270 hours) at an American Bar Association- (ABA) or State Bar of California-accredited law school or passed the First Year Law Student’s Exam (FYLSE). The student must also be enrolled in or have completed Evidence and Civil Procedure courses.

3. What activities may a certified student perform?

Under conditions outlined in the Rules Governing the Practical Training of Law Students, certified students may negotiate, give legal advice, appear at depositions, appear in litigation and other proceedings and appear in prosecution of lesser criminal offenses.

4. Who may be a supervising attorney?

The supervising attorney must be an active State Bar member and must have practiced law or taught law in a law school as a full-time occupation for at least two years. If the supervising attorney is employed full-time to supervise law students in an organized law school or government agency training program, the attorney may supervise up to 25 students. Otherwise, the attorney must not supervise more than 5 certified students.

5. How do I apply for certification?

A student must submit an application for certification to The State Bar of California, Office of Special Admissions and Specialization, 180 Howard Street, San Francisco, Calif., 94105.  The application form is available on the State Bar's website, calbar.ca.gov. You may also contact ptls@calbar.ca.gov or call 415-538-2117 to request a form.

6. What is the application fee?

A $55 fee must be submitted with the application.

7. Can I fax my application to the State Bar?

No. The application must contain original signatures and therefore cannot be faxed.

8. How long does it take to process my application?

Applications are processed on a first-come basis. Usually, the student and supervising attorney receive a response approximately three weeks after the State Bar's receipt of a complete application.

9. What title is a certified student allowed to use?

A certified student may only use the title 'Certified Student' for activities performed under the PTLS program. When the certified student's name appears in written materials prepared under the PTLS program, the written materials must also contain the name of the supervising attorney, his/her role as a supervising attorney and state that the student is a certified student of the PTLS program.

10. How long does my certification last?

A student's certification begins on the date indicated on the Notice of Certification and remains in effect for the period specified on the Notice. The student's certification terminates sooner than the date referenced on the Notice of Certification if any of the following circumstances occur:

  • The State Bar receives notice from the student requesting termination;
  • The State Bar determines that the student no longer meets the certification requirements;
  • The student fails to take, or does not pass, the first General Bar Examination for which he or she is eligible. If the student takes the first General Bar Examination for which she or he is eligible, certification is extended until the exam results are released (assuming all other certification requirements continue to be met); or
  • The State Bar revokes certification.
11. When am I required to file for recertification?

The student must file a recertification with the State Bar if he/she changes his/her information, including name of employer, name of supervising attorney, address, etc.

12. Is there a fee for recertification?

Yes, if there is a change in supervising attorney or employer (see the Rules Governing the Practical Training of Law Students, Section 4.0). No, if you are extending your certification with the same supervising attorney.

13. What documents do I need in order to appear in court?

The Notice of Certification/Recertification issued by The State Bar of California and any other information requested by the court.

14. Can I go to prison and interview a prisoner without my supervising attorney?

A student may interview a prisoner with the preapproval of the supervising attorney and the client, and is subject to prison rules and regulations.

15. Can a certified student appear in a federal court?

No. Rule 9.43 of the California Supreme Court and the Rules Governing the Practical Training of Law Students only authorize California state court appearances. Federal appearances are governed by federal law.

16. Can I provide legal services for anyone other than my supervising attorney?

A certified student must work under the supervision of a supervising attorney. Government agencies may designate an attorney in place of the supervising attorney, but the supervising attorney must still provide general supervision.

17. I attended a law school in another state and am moving to California. Am I eligible to become a certified student in California?

A certified law student must currently attend an ABA- or a State Bar of California-accredited law school or have graduated from law school and meet the requirements of the PTLS program.

18. Can I participate in the program if I attend an unaccredited law school?

If you attend an unaccredited law school, you must have taken and passed the First Year Law Student's Exam (FYLSE) and be enrolled in or have completed Evidence and Civil Procedure courses. Contact the Admissions office for more information regarding the FYLSE.

19. Can I become a certified student after I graduate from law school? If so, how long does my certification last?

Yes, a student may be certified after graduating from law school as long as the student takes the first General Bar Examination. If the student fails his/her first eligible Bar Exam, certification ends on the date of notice. If the student passes the first eligible Bar Exam, the certification extends to 30 days after date of notice.

20. Can I become certified after I pass the bar exam and while I am awaiting my moral character determination?

No.

Contact Us

Practical Training of Law Students (PTLS)
The State Bar of California
180 Howard St.
San Francisco, CA 94105
e-mail: PTLS@calbar.ca.gov
Phone: 415-538-2175