Bar Examination for Foreign-Trained Attorneys
The majority of states do not allow an individual to take their bar examination unless the individual holds a JD degree from a U.S. law school. For a full list of which states allow foreign-trained attorneys to sit for a bar examination, please refer to the National Conference of Bar Examiners’ Comprehensive Guide to Bar Admission Requirements. Refer to Chart 4 on pages 12 – 16 for information on foreign-trained attorneys. Please note that admission to Mason Law’s LLM program does not guarantee or in any way suggest eligibility to sit for any state's bar examination.
More information on the most popular jurisdictions currently allowing foreign trained attorneys to sit for their Bar Examination is provided below. Please note that Bar Examination eligibility rules are subject to change. If you are interested in sitting for a bar examination in any U.S. state, you should visit that state’s bar examination website and contact them for the most up-to-date information as well as clarification regarding the rules.
New York Bar Examination
The New York Bar Examination is the most popular bar examination for foreign trained attorneys. The New York Board of Law Examiners is the only entity that can deem an individual qualified to sit for the New York Bar Exam. Some individuals from common law countries may be found eligible to sit for the New York Bar Exam based solely on their first law degree. Most individuals, however, will need to finish the requirements of the LLM degree and complete additional coursework to be eligible to sit for the exam. If you wish to sit for the New York Bar Exam, it is your responsibility to review the state’s eligibility rules for foreign-trained attorneys (see §520.6 of the Rules of the Court of appeals for the Admission of Attorneys and Counselors at Law 22 NYCRR §520.6)).
The Board requires foreign-trained lawyers to complete an online Foreign Evaluation Form and submit required documentation to their offices at least 6 months prior to the start of the application filing period for the bar exam (February or July) they wish to take. We strongly encourage you to complete this evaluation form and to submit all necessary documents to the Board prior to staring the LLM program to determine your eligibility to sit for the bar.
Individuals should be aware that every applicant admitted to the New York State Bar on or after January 1, 2015 must complete at least 50 hours of qualifying pro bono service prior to filing an application for admission with the appropriate Appellate Division department of the Supreme Court (§520.16 of the Rules of the Court of appeals for the Admission of Attorneys and Counselors at Law (22 NYCRR §520.16)).
Please note that foreign-trained attorneys interested in taking the New York Bar Examination through the “cure provision” of Rule 520.6 of the Rules of the Court of Appeals for the Admission of Attorneys and Counselors at Law will need to complete approximately 3 full-time semesters of coursework at Mason Law in order to meet the curricular requirements listed within Rule 520.6.
The District of Columbia (D.C.) Bar Examination
D.C. is the jurisdiction closest to Mason Law that allows foreign-trained attorneys to sit for their bar examination. The D.C. Court of Appeals is the only entity that can deem an individual qualified to sit for the D.C. Bar Examination. The Rules of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, Rule 46(b)(4) requires that foreign-trained attorneys take at least 26 credit hours in subjects tested on the D.C. Bar Examination in order to become eligible to take the exam. Subjects tested on the D.C. Bar Examination are listed in the Multistate Bar Examination Content Outline and the Multistate Essay Examination Content Outline. Please note that any student who wishes to sit for the D.C. Bar Examinations under the provisions of Rule 46(b)(4) will need to complete approximately 4 full-time semesters of coursework at Mason Law in order to meet the requirements listed in Rule 46(b)(4).
The D.C. Court of Appeals also offers a “special legal consultant” status for a foreign-educated lawyer who has been admitted to practice in another country and is at least 26 years of age, as outlined in Rule 46 (c)(4).
Other State Bar Examinations
If you are interested in sitting for the bar examination of another state, you should consult the bar examiners of that state to determine your eligibility.