The Associated Press has this story on what it means for lawyers to join the U.S. Supreme Court bar. As the article suggests, being a member of the Supreme Court bar doesn’t mean much. Pretty much any lawyer who pays the $200 is admitted, at least if they have been in good standing in a state bar for three years and get two other bar members to sign on.
The article only briefly hints at the best reason to join the Supreme Court bar, at least if you live in or can travel to Washington, DC: You can get in to see Supreme Court arguments, and you get incredible seating when you do. The Court seats members of the bar separately from members of the public, and it seats bar members on a first-come, first-serve basis. You have to get there early for high-profile cases, as the line fills up. If all the seats are taken, you have to listen in remotely from the lawyer’s lounge (effectively, an overflow room). But often the bar section never fills up, which is especially likely when the cases that day involve areas of law without a strong connection to DC legal practice. On those days, bar members can walk in to the Supreme Court building just a few minutes before the argument starts and still get a seat. And the seats are the best in town. Bar members are seated in the rows immediately behind the lawyers arguing the case. So they’re very close to the action, with a front-row seat to watch the Justices and the advocates. And you can go as often as you like without a ticket. It’s one of the best deals in Washington, at least for Supreme Court nerds who are lawyers.