U.S. Bar Exams
Lawyers with a foreign law degree who wish to take a bar examination after graduation should familiarize themselves with the eligibility and general requirements of the bar exam they wish to take.
Completion of the LL.M. degree in itself does not guarantee eligibility to take a bar examination. Most states will require a J.D. degree from a U.S. law school in order to sit for the bar exam. In cases where a state does allow foreign law graduates to sit for the bar exam, including in New York, as a general rule, at least three years of legal study, not including the LL.M. degree, are required for eligibility.
New York Bar Exam
For information on New York State’s bar requirements, contact the Board of Law Examiners directly at:
The New York State Board of Law Examiners
Building 3 Corporate Plaza
254 Washington Ave. Extension
Albany, N.Y. 12203
On their website, the Board of Law Examiners lists specific information for foreign-trained lawyers who wish to take the New York State bar exam.
It is your responsibility to write to the Board of Law Examiners to determine your eligibility to sit for the bar exam. Only the Board can make that determination, and it is best to send your requests early. It is also your responsibility to make sure you meet all deadlines for applying to take the bar exam and to make sure you have all of the required materials to submit to the Board. Columbia Law School and the Office of Graduate Legal Studies are not responsible for monitoring bar exam deadlines or for updating you if the deadlines or rules for applying change.
The Office of Graduate Legal Studies cannot make copies of your foreign law school transcripts, nor can we give you the copies we have on file. No exceptions will be made. It is your responsibility to obtain additional copies of your transcripts if you plan to take the bar exam. We recommend that you do this as soon as possible during the fall semester, if you did not request them prior to arriving at Columbia (as we recommended in our pre-arrival materials).
The New York Court of Appeals has adopted the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE), which will replace the old New York Bar Exam format effective July 2016. In addition to the UBE, the Court of Appeals has adopted a requirement that all applicants for admission to practice in New York complete an online course on New York law (New York Law Course—NYLC) and take and pass an online examination on New York law (New York Law Exam—NYLE).
A list of frequently asked questions on the UBE, the NYLE, and the NYLC is available on the Board of Law Examiners' Website.
Approved Courses at Columbia Law School that Satisfy the NY Bar's Rule 520.6
The attached list includes all courses approved by the NY State Court of Appeals as of June, 2014: Approved Courses.
Character and Fitness
In addition to a bar examination, there are character, fitness, and other qualifications for admission to the bar in every U.S. jurisdiction. Applicants are encouraged to determine the requirements for any jurisdiction in which they intend to seek admission by contacting the jurisdiction. Addresses for all relevant agencies are available through the National Conference of Bar Examiners.
Bar Exams in Other Jurisdictions
For answers to questions regarding bar admissions in other jurisdictions and contact information for each state's board of bar examiners, the National Conference of Bar Examiner's Comprehensive Guide to Bar Admission Requirements provides an excellent resource. Chart 4 contains guidelines for foreign law school graduates.