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Bar Association of Puerto Rico

The Bar Association of Puerto Rico (BAPR) (Colegio de Abogados de Puerto Rico (CAPR)) is the oldest professional association in Puerto Rico, a territory of the United States.

In 1911, the Puerto Rico Bar Association became a voluntary association. In 1932, the Puerto Rico Bar Association became a mandatory association. In a mandatory bar association, the attorney must maintain a membership in good standing in order to be eligible to practice law in that jurisdiction.

With a population of more than 3 million people, Puerto Rico has more than 14,000 active and resident lawyers. Information about attorneys practicing law in Puerto Rico, including their bar number, is not currently available on the website of the Bar Association of Puerto Rico.

Headquartered in the Miramar section of San Juan, BAPR operates several programs that serve the community including a pro bono legal services program. 

Contact Information

Bar Association of Puerto Rico (BAPR)
Colegio de Abogados de Puerto Rico (CAPR)
808 Avenida Juan Ponce de León
San Juan, Puerto Rico 00907
Postal: PO BOX 9021900, San Juan PR 00902-1900
Contáctanos: abogados@capr.org
Teléfonos: CAAPR: 787-721-3358
Website: https://capr.org/

Requirements to Practice Law in Puerto Rico

To practice law in Puerto Rico, Local Civil Rule 83A requires an attorney to meet both of the following requirements:

  • be in good standing as an attorney admitted to practice before:
    • the highest court of a state;
    • the District of Columbia;
    • the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico;
    • the Territory of Guam;
    • the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands; 
    • the Virgin Islands of the United States.
  • comply with one of the following:
    • received a satisfactory score as determined by the District Examination Committee on an examination approved by that committee. The Court must be satisfied that the attorney can provide effective assistance of counsel to his or her clients under the Sixth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States;
    • served in this District as a District Judge, Magistrate Judge, Clerk or Chief Deputy Clerk, Law Clerk, United States Attorney or Assistant U.S. Attorney, Federal Public Defender or Assistant Federal Public Defender, for one year or more;
    • served in the General Court of Justice for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, as a Supreme Court Justice, a Court of Appeals Judge, or a Judge of the Court of First Instance, for five years or more; or
    • has served, on a continuous basis, as a full-time tenured professor of law at the law school of a university duly accredited by the American Bar Association and any other pertinent authority for at least ten (10) years, provided that, at the time of his/her graduation from law school and the start of his or her tenure, no District Examination was administered in this District.

Attorneys requesting admission to the bar of the United States District Court for the District of Puerto Rico must complete a Petition for Admission to the Bar before being assigned a bar number. The petition is sent to the Committee on Admissions for evaluation.

The Committee on Admissions will render a report and recommendation within thirty (30) business days. After evaluation of the report, the Court will direct the Clerk's Office staff to notify the applicant with the date scheduled for his/her admission to the bar, as appropriate, at which time a bar number is assigned.

The Bar Examination in Puerto Rico

The dates for the Puerto Rico Bar Exam in 2020 are in March and September of 2020. The passage rate for the bar examination in Puerto Rico is 30% to 40%.

The bar examination in Puerto Rico is given in the Spring and the Fall each year. In addition to the essay question, the bar examination will test the attorney's knowledge in the following areas of the law:

  • Ethics
  • The USDCPR Local Rule
  • Federal Evidence
  • Federal Jurisdiction and Venue
  • Federal Criminal Procedure (Includes the subject of Sentencing Guidelines. Applicants must be familiar with the ruling in United States v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220, 125 S.Ct. 738, 160 L.Ed.2d 621(2005) and progeny from the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals)
  • Federal Civil Procedure
  • Federal Appellate Procedure
  • Bankruptcy
    • the Bankruptcy Code;
    • the amendments of the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005; and
    • the Bankruptcy rules.

The Puerto Rico Bar examination consists of only local components with 184 multiple-choice questions and 8 essay questions. Puerto Rico does not require the MPRE.

Along with the application, the attorney must submit an original and recently issued certificate of good standing issued by:

  • the Puerto Rico Supreme Court;
  • the highest court of any state;
  • the District of Columbia;
  • the Territory of Guam;
  • the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands; or
  • the U.S. Virgin Islands.

In addition to the certificate of good standing, the attorney must submit a non-refundable fee of $100.00, payable to the Clerk. The results are announced about 4 to 6 weeks later. The bar admission fee is $300 and the annual membership renewal fee is $75.00.

The Pro Hac Vice Appearance fee is $300.00. Attorneys may be permitted to appear Pro Hac Vice pursuant to Local Rule 83A(f) after completing an Application and Order for Admission Pro Hac Vice.

To practice in Federal Court in Puerto Rico, a person must pass a separate Federal Bar Examination.

States with Reciprocity with Puerto Rico Bar

If you passed the bar in another state but want to practice law in Puerto Rico, you might be wondering whether any other states have reciprocity with Puerto Rico.

In many states, the trend is growing to allow the “portability” of bar exam results through state adoption of the Uniform Bar Exam.

Nevertheless, Puerto Rico does not have any form of reciprocal admission with any other jurisdiction. Other states with no form of reciprocal admission include South Carolina, California, Delaware, Florida Hawaii, Louisiana, Maryland, Nevada, Rhode Island, Guam, and N. Mariana Island, Palau. See National Conference of Bar Examiners, Comprehensive Guide to Bar Admission Requirements 2018 at 40, available at http://www.ncbex.org/pubs/bar-admissions-guide/2018/mobile/index.html.

Additional Resources

Requirements for Bar Admission in Puerto Rico - Visit the website of the United States District Court for the District of Puerto Rico to find the requirements for bar admission in Puerto Rico. Local Civil Rule 83A of the local rules of the District of Puerto Rico provides the rules for an attorney to qualify for admission to the bar and good standing requirements. 

Puerto Rico Chapter of the Federal Bar Association - Founded in 1920, the Puerto Rico Chapter of the Federal Bar Association (FBA) is the third-largest in the nation. The FBA serves all attorneys involved in federal law. Members include attorneys in private practice with both small and large legal firms, attorneys in corporations and federal agencies, and members of the judiciary.

Puerto Rico Supreme Court - Holding sessions in San Juan, the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico (Tribunal Supremo de Puerto Rico (TSPR)) is the highest court of Puerto Rico and the court of last resort. Just like the state supreme courts, the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico has judicial authority to interpret. Pursuant to Article V of the Constitution of Puerto Rico, it decides questions of Puerto Rican law.

This article was last updated on Friday, November 6, 2020.