About the Bar

FAQ/Membership [+] Show All Answers

  1. No! Even if you have passed the Bar, you must be sworn in by a court and registered with the State Bar of Georgia before you are licensed to practice law in the state. Until then you may not give legal advice to anyone. You may not appear in court or sign your name on a document to be presented to a court (other than for your own personal matters). If a judge allows you to sit with counsel during a hearing, or if you attend a deposition with a licensed attorney, you may not question witnesses or make objections. You are also obligated to clarify your status to anyone who mistakenly believes that you are a lawyer. Be sure that the firm letterhead, website and other publications do not refer to you as a lawyer before you are fully credentialed. There are many tasks that you may perform in a law office while awaiting Bar results and licensing. You may draft briefs or pleadings for a lawyer's review and signature. You may interview clients and witnesses, and pass along legal advice as directed by a lawyer (making it clear that the advice is from a licensed attorney). Formal Advisory Opinions 19, 21 and 00-2 further describe what tasks may appropriately be delegated to a nonlawyer in a law office.

  2. Fee Arbitration

  3. As an inactive member, you are not required to complete CLE hours and your dues are lower. However, inactive status requires that you do not practice law in Georgia. A possible disadvantage is the fact that if you plan to use your Georgia license to be admitted by reciprocity to another jurisdiction, the other jurisdiction often requires that you have been active 5 of the last 7 years.

    All courses entered into our CLE database are charged a $5 per hour per attorney fee. Sponsors of the seminars are required to pay this fee for courses held in Georgia. Attorneys are required to pay this fee for courses held outside of Georgia or in other circumstances such as online seminars when the sponsor does not pay the fee. An attorney can pay the $5 per hour fee to the State Bar of Georgia when attendance is reported to us, or can be billed on the Annual Report that is mailed in January of each year.

  4. Does the State Bar need a member's official mailing address on file? Can the address be marked private?

    Bar Rule 1-207 requires that all members maintain a valid official address and phone number with the State Bar of Georgia. All address changes must be in writing by one of the following methods: (1) logging into the member's account at www.gabar.org and selecting "Edit Contact Information", (2) emailing the Membership Department at membership@gabar.org or (3) mailing information to State Bar headquarters, attention Membership Department. 

    If a member does not want their contact information visible in the printed or online directories, they may contact Membership at 404-527-8777 or email membership@gabar.org and request their information be marked private. Their firm/employer name, street address, phone, fax and email addresses will be hidden from public view. To release the privacy restriction, the Membership Department must be contacted. 

  5. How do I change my name?

    CLICK HERE to download the Name Change Form. This is a fillable form, which may be completed online before you print it for a signature. Please fax or mail this form.

  6. How do I change my status to active?

    If an attorney remains in noncompliance, the Supreme Court of Georgia will be notified so that it may enter any order it deems appropriate including suspension from the practice of law until, as a minimum, the deficiency is corrected, all penalty fees are paid, and a reinstatement fee is paid. A $100 penalty fee is required if hours for the preceding year are not completed by the deficiency period ending March 31.

  7. How do I change my status to inactive?

    In January or early February of each year, an Annual Report of CLE hours for the previous calendar year is sent to all active members of the State Bar of Georgia unless an exemption has already been entered. If the attorney has completed all the required CLE hours for the previous year and does not owe any course fees, then the attorney does not need to do anything further. However, if the attorney either needs more hours for the previous year or owes a course fee that is listed on the Annual Report, then he or she has until March 31 to satisfy the deficiency.

  8. How do I login to the website?

    State Bar members, if you have created a username and password, please use the one you created. Proceed by clicking here.

    If you have not created an account, your username is your Bar number and your password is your last name with no punctuation or spaces and four digit birth year in all lowercase (i.e., username: 006400, password: smith1978).

  9. How do I obtain a disciplinary history?

    Any member seeking a disciplinary history that includes information about grievances or actions that are currently pending in confidential status, or about private discipline, should send their written request to the Office of the General Counsel, State Bar of Georgia, 104 Marietta Street, Suite 100, Atlanta, Georgia 30303, Attn: Deloise Mathews. The request must include the member's explicit authorization to release such information. Requests sent via email are not accepted. There is no cost to a member requesting their own disciplinary history.

  10. How do I obtain information about Admission on Motion (Reciprocity)?

    Fee Arbitration

  11. How do I order a Letter of Good Standing?

    A Letter of Good Standing is usually required for a member of the State Bar of Georgia to be admitted to practice in another jurisdiction. Letters of Good Standing include the attorney's name, Bar Number, address, current status and a history of any public disciplinary actions that have been taken against the attorney. If the jurisdiction you are applying to requires information about grievances or actions that are currently pending in confidential status, or about private discipline, please see the last paragraph below for instructions.

    Some jurisdictions require that the letter come from the highest court in the state. In Georgia, the highest court that you are required to be admitted in, in order to practice, is the Superior Court. However, you may have been separately sworn in to the Supreme Court of Georgia and/or the Court of Appeals of Georgia.

    The State Bar of Georgia is an official arm of the Supreme Court, but if the jurisdiction in which you are applying requires you to submit a letter from the highest court to which you are admitted (i.e., Supreme Court of Georgia, Court of Appeals of Georgia, etc.), you must contact those courts directly, (but only if you are admitted to them) to request a letter of good standing. Otherwise, if you have only been admitted in Superior Court, a letter of good standing from the State Bar of Georgia will be sufficient.

    Letters are available from the Membership Department at a cost of $15 for the first letter and $5 for each additional letter requested at the same time. Requests for Letters of Good Standing will be processed and mailed out each business day. Cutoff time for receipt of orders is 12 p.m. If your order indicates that you would like to pick up your letter, you will be notified by email or phone when the letter is ready. To order a letter after 12 p.m. for same day pick up, an additional charge of $20 will apply for expedited letters. To receive a Letter of Good Standing your Membership Dues must be current.

    To order your letter of good standing please login by clicking here and proceed to the storefront. To order with a check by mail or courier, click here to download an order form.

    Any member seeking a disciplinary history that includes information about grievances or actions that are currently pending in confidential status, or about private discipline, should send their written request to the Office of the General Counsel, State Bar of Georgia, 104 Marietta Street, Suite 100, Atlanta, Georgia 30303, Attn: Deloise Mathews. The request must include the member's explicit authorization to release such information. Requests sent via email are not accepted. There is no cost to a member requesting their own disciplinary history.

  12. How do I order a Membership Certificate that is suitable for framing?

    Any active member in good standing with the State Bar of Georgia is eligible to order a personalized membership certificate. Printed on ivory parchment paper, these certificates are stamped with the official seal of the State Bar and signed by the current president. Unframed certificates are $25.

    Framed membership certificates are double-matted in black and gold and enclosed in a gold wood frame. Complete with a hook for easy hanging, they are available for $50.00.

    To order your certificate, please login by clicking here and proceed to the storefront.

  13. How do I order a Photo ID?

    A photo ID card is a convenient and quick way to identify you as a State Bar of Georgia member.

    To order your photo ID, please login by clicking here and proceed to the storefront.

    Once you make your purchase, you will need to email membership@gabar.org and attach a high-resolution picture. Be sure to include your Bar Number. The State Bar of Georgia reserves the right to decide if the photo you provide is appropriate for use on your State Bar of Georgia photo ID.

    If you would prefer to pay by check, mail $11 to Membership, State Bar of Georgia, Suite 100, 104 Marietta Street, Atlanta GA 30303. Be sure to include your Bar Number with the request.

    (If you don't have the ability to send a photo electronically, you may mail those to Membership as well. Be sure to include your Bar Number on all requests.)

  14. I wish to check my membership status, or check the membership status of an attorney. Who should I speak to?

    12 CLE hours including 1 ethics hour, 1 professionalism hour, 3 trial hours (only required for trial attorneys)

  15. If I am inactive and wish to take CLE hours anyway are there any restrictions?

    Fee Arbitration

  16. If I have already paid active dues for the year, would a portion of my dues be refunded if I become inactive?

    Abraham Lincoln once emphasized the value of a lawyer's time when he said, "A lawyer's advice is his stock in trade." The value of the professional services of the lawyer are not easily measured since legal matters differ widely and no two factual situations are exactly alike. Therefore, in most instances, the fee will depend upon the factors involved in the specific case at hand and cannot be determined by any pre-established general fee schedule. The elements most often considered include:

    1. the time and labor required, the novelty and difficulty of the question involved, and the skill needed to perform the legal service properly; 

    2. the likelihood that the acceptance of the particular employment will preclude other employment by the lawyer; 

    3. the fee customarily charged in the locality for similar legal services;

    4. the amount involved and the results obtained;

    5. the time limitations requested by the client or by the circumstances; 

    6. the nature and length of the professional relationship with the client; 

    7. the experience, reputation, and ability of the lawyer or lawyers, performing the services; 

    8. whether the fee is fixed or contingent.

  17. If I have decided I do not want to keep my membership, how do I resign? If I decide to reinstate after I have resigned, can I do that?

    No. If the client does not want the dispute resolved in this manner, no arbitration is held.

  18. If I have not practiced in Georgia for a long period of time and have not changed my status to inactive, can I make my status inactive retro active back in time?

    Take all the required hours before the December 31 deadline.

    If your hours are incomplete on December 31, make them up during the grace period, which expires on March 31. This saves the $100 late CLE fee.

    If you miss the March 31 deadline, pay the $100 late fee which extends the deadline to June 30. After June 30 an additional $150 in fees are due for a total of $250 for late completion of your CLE requirement.

    Monitor your record during the year by logging into your account by clicking here. Some sponsors take several weeks to report your attendance, so check back if a seminar is not listed in your record. If it does not appear, contact the CLE department staff at (404) 527-8710.

  19. If I live out of state and do not practice in Georgia, am I required to go inactive?

    First, review your original fee contract. Hopefully, it was a written contract, but even if not, the bill would be considered in light of the past agreement between you and your lawyer. If you had no agreement whatsoever, the law provides that the attorney is entitled to a reasonable fee taking into consideration all factors including those previously listed. If the bill still seems to be higher than your agreement or seems unreasonable, the next step is to say so. Sometimes a lot of hassle can be prevented if you and your lawyer talk things over. Ask your lawyer to explain why the bill is higher than you expected. You may find out the case was more complicated and took more time than you realized. Or the lawyer may agree that a mistake was made in the bill. But even if it does not work out, a good faith effort by the party requesting arbitration to resolve the dispute without the necessity of outside intervention is a prerequisite to Fee Arbitration.

  20. The Online Directory is a direct reflection of the State Bar of Georgia's membership database. To change this information, you can change your address online by clicking here, write an email to membership@gabar.org or send a fax to the Membership Department at 404-527-8747.

    Rule 5.4 discusses a lawyer splitting a legal fee with a nonlawyer. Formal Advisory Opinion 05-4 provides that it is ethically proper for a lawyer to compensate nonlawyer employees based upon a plan that is based in whole or in part on a profit-sharing arrangement.

  21. What happens if I do not pay my Bar Dues?

    Many cases settle before an arbitration hearing takes place. Some do so within a few weeks, while others take much longer. If the arbitration process goes to conclusion without settlement, a case takes, as an average, eleven months to complete. Of course, some cases take less than this while more difficult ones may take longer.