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Graduates from Law School and Passes Bar Exam – Can He Practice Law?

July 23, 2012
Plain English Version

Sergio C. Garcia and his family came to the U.S. when he was a toddler. They returned to Mexico when he was about 9.  He and his undocumented family once again entered the U.S. when he was 17.

He went to law school at Cal Northern School of Law and passed the bar examination on his first try. His father, now a citizen, sponsored Garcia for a green card 18 years ago. The application is still pending.

The question is: can he get a license to practice law?

The California Bar is asking the State Supreme Court to grant Mr. Garcia a license. It said, students going to law school on a student or visitor visa are allowed to get a license. Law graduates without social security numbers may use other forms of ID when applying for a license.

His status as undocumented makes employment a problem.

In a confusing statement the bar said, “While a license to practice law is necessary to obtain employment as an attorney, having a law license does not mean that the holder may be employed.” They added he could practice law for free (pro bono), or act as an independent contractor.

The decision on whether he can get a license is important because it will set a precedent for future cases.

Mr. Garcia has said he would like to do litigation and personal injury law. He is now working with his father in Northern California as a beekeeper.

The Los Angles Times

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