The New York State Bar Examination
Visit NY State Board of Law Examiners (NYS BOLE) for detailed information on the New York State bar examination application and requirements. We encourage you to obtain and carefully review the application materials as early as possible and make careful note of the NYS BOLE filing deadlines as there are no provisions for late filing.
NOTE: The certification process differs slightly for J.D. and LL.M. students. Once you have read this page, please follow the relevant link for additional information based on degree.
UNIFORM BAR EXAMINATION (UBE):
The New York Court of Appeals has adopted the recommendation of the Advisory Committee on the Uniform Bar Examination (UBE) that New York adopt the UBE effective July 2016. The Advisory Committee also recommended, and the Court of Appeals adopted, a requirement that applicants for admission in New York be required to complete an online course on New York law (New York Law Course, or NYLC) and take and pass an online examination on New York law (New York Law Exam, or NYLE), as a requirement for admission.
NOTE: In order to apply for the NYLE, you first must complete the 15-hour NYLC. The report of the Advisory Committee is available on its website at https://ww2.nycourts.gov/sites/default/files/document/files/2019-02/UBE.pdf. For more information and answers to Frequently Asked Questions, click here.
Application Filing Deadline:
Applications for the July bar examination must be filed with the NYS BOLE between April 1 and April 30. Applications for the February examination must be filed between November 1 and November 30. The filing deadlines will not change from year to year.
Deadline for Proof of Eligibility and Handwriting Specimen:
Pursuant to revised Board Rule 6000.2(b) and (c), as explained in further detail at the New York Bar Exam website, all eligibility proofs (e.g., completed Certificate of Attendance), transcripts and handwriting specimens must be received in the Board’s office by the following deadlines:
These deadlines will, of necessity, be strictly enforced. Candidates whose proofs are not received by the applicable deadline will not be permitted to sit for that bar examination. To ensure timely submission to the Board, make sure that the Law School’s Office of Registration Services has forms requiring certification by January 1 for the February exam and by May 15 for the July exam.
Date of Receipt and Not Postmark Date Will Determine Timely Filing:
The Board will not accept a postmark as the method to determine timely filing. All applications and supporting documentation (i.e. – bar examination applications and re-applications, ADA test accommodations applications and re-applications, eligibility proofs, handwriting specimens, etc.) must be received in the Board’s office on or before the filing period deadline.
The laptop program allows you to use your personal laptop computer along with Board designated word processing security software to type your answers to MPT and MEE questions. When you apply for the examination, you must indicate whether you will participate in the laptop program.
NOTE: You must elect the laptop program during the application period. No one will be added to the laptop program after the application period closes.
Policy on Seat Assignments for Bar Exam:
The Board has changed its policy concerning Test Center assignments. Seating is no longer based on the applicant’s residential address as provided by the applicant on the bar exam application. Test Center assignments will be based on availability and on a first come, first-served basis at the time of the Board’s seating assignment email. First-time applicants who graduate with a Juris Doctor degree from a New York State law school will be given the first opportunity to select a seat assignment. For additional information regarding test sites, please click here.
(NEW) Skills Competency Requirement for Admission to the Bar:
The New York Court of Appeals has identified five pathways through which applicants for admission to practice may satisfy the requirement to ‘demonstrate that the applicant possesses the skills and values necessary to provide effective, ethical and responsible legal services in this State’.
This requirement applies to
- JD students commencing their studies after August 1, 2016
- LLM students commencing their studies after August 1, 2018.
Prior to applying to the New York Bar, all students should review carefully the information provided by the New York Court of Appeals as well as the FAQs.
Skills Competency Requirement for JD candidates
Pathway 1 allows applicants to satisfy the skills competency requirement by submitting a certification from their law school confirming that (1) the school’s curriculum incorporates the teaching of skills and professional values required for participation in the legal profession, and (2) that the applicant has acquired sufficient competency in those skills and sufficient familiarity with those values.
Fulfillment of Requirement: Columbia Law School J.D. students are introduced to a core set of skills and professional values as part of the standard required curriculum. In order to satisfy Pathway I, students must complete the educational program described below.
Students' training begins in the first year of the J.D. program with the foundational Legal Methods course, which provides an introduction to legal institutions and processes and the skills necessary in the professional use of case law and legislation. Students learn about the sources, forms, and development of Anglo-American law, the analysis and synthesis of judicial precedents, the interpretation of statutes, the coordination of judge-made and statute law, and the uses of legal reasoning.
Starting with the Class of 2021, Legal Methods will be divided into intensive components. Building on the extant Legal Methods course, Legal Methods II is taught over five, three-hour sessions in January, continues this methodological approach but broadens it to give students a menu of choices, reflecting methods employed by lawyers in different professional contexts. Students obtain a background in the principles, theories, and history underpinning the methods being examined. In addition, students engage in experiential work, in which they actively use and reflect upon these methods. Current offerings include Financial Methods for Lawyers, Methods of Persuasion, Methods of Statutory Drafting and Persuasion, Social Justice Advocacy, and Transnational Law and Legal Process.
In addition, students receive training in a range of professional skills and values as part of the required first-year Legal Practice Workshop. The list of skills covered includes:
- Legal analysis
- Legal research
- Written communication, including
- organization of legal writing
- persuasion and legal rhetoric
- reflection, editing, and revision
- proper documentation of and citation to research sourcesl appellate brief writing
- Collaboration and teamwork
- Oral communication and advocacy
- Client Communication
Note: LL.M. students who plan to sit for the New York Bar are required to take a similar two-credit Legal Research and Writing course in the fall semester. The skills and professional values acquired by the LL.M. students in the Legal Research and Writing course are equivalent to those acquired by the J.D. students in the fall component of the Legal Practice Workshop.
Finally, students acquire the following analytical skills in their other required first-year Foundation courses (Contracts, Civil Procedure, Torts, Criminal Law, Property, and Constitutional Law):
- Understanding of and facility in the influences of political institutions in law
- Understanding of and facility in a specific body of law, including major policy concerns
- Understanding of and facility in doctrinal analysis, including close reading of cases and precedents, and application to facts
In their upper years, students must satisfy the following additional requirements:
- at least one course in legal ethics and professional responsibility, selecting from a menu of general offerings or courses set in different practice contexts
- two faculty-supervised writing and research projects
- no fewer than six credits of experiential learning as defined in revised ABA Standard 303(a)(3)
- the Class of 2021 and thereafter will also complete a course in Legislation and Regulation.
Students in the upper years can choose among a variety of experiential offerings that range across the varieties of legal practice and that build upon the skills introduced in the first-year and immerse students in an additional set of core skills and professional values. Students select from a menu of clinics, externships, simulations, policy and social justice labs, and faculty supervised independent experiential projects. Columbia’s experiential offerings provide instruction in one or more of the following core skills and values:
- Effective approaches to problem solving: gathering facts, developing options, assessing the range of possible outcomes, and making decisions
- Collaborating in teams
- Critiquing one's own professional performance
- Professionalism in the representation of clients, identification of personal goals related to development as a lawyer and ability to take advantage of opportunities to make progress on them
- Drafting legal documents and professional correspondence
- Continued development of basic skills and values acquired in the first year, including:
o Research skills and strategies; document review and analysis
o Analytical thinking; time management; information management o Interviewing and counseling
o Oral presentation
In addition, students are provided with myriad opportunities and guidance from counselors to help them define their particular intellectual and professional goals and choose courses that will provide them with opportunities to acquire additional skills and values tailored to these aspirations. Depending on the specific courses the students select, the skills and values they acquire will include some or all of the following:
- Litigation skills, including crafting a theory of the case, communicating a client's goals effectively to a judicial or administrative tribunal, and use of important litigation tools, such as interviewing, motions practice, examination of lay and expert witnesses, oral argument, and briefing
- Using information transfer and technologies in law and the legal profession
- Applying other disciplines in the analysis and solution of legal problems and in institutional design, including cultural studies, economics, philosophy, political science, psychology, and sociology
- Applying values-based considerations in law-making and legal problem-solving
- Understanding the dynamics and strategies of multi-level systems change
- Developing strategies for addressing structural inequality
- Addressing differences between lawyers' and clients' cultural and economic backgrounds in the process of forming effective attorney-client relationships
- Public administrative skills, including the structuring and restructuring of local, state, federal, and international institutions
- Transactional lawyering, including
- Value creation, transactional procedures, and design of strategy for deals
- Analyzing, negotiating, and drafting deal terms
- Drafting and interpreting important documents used by practitioners in key substantive practice areas
- Communicating with and counseling individual and organizational clients on strategy and deal terms
- Understanding principles of accounting and business finance
- Statistical reasoning
- Working effectively in cross-professional teams to solve multi-dimensional problems
- Written, oral, digital, and public communication and data display
- Leadership and management
Pathway 2 allows applicants to satisfy the requirement through certification of credit acquisition which confirms that the applicant enrolled in and successfully completed 15 credit hours, as defined by American Bar Association Standards for the Approval of Law Schools, of practice-based experiential coursework designed to foster the development of professional competencies.
Fulfillment of Requirement: J.D. candidates who have successfully completed 15 points of experiential credit can demonstrate satisfaction of the requirement through Pathway 2, in addition to Pathway 1.
Skills Competency Requirement for LLM Candidates
Pathway 5 allows an applicant who has been authorized to practice law in another state, or in a commonwealth, territory or country outside the United States, to meet the skills competency requirement by establishing that the applicant has been in good standing and practiced law full-time for one year or part-time for two years.
Fulfillment of Requirement: The majority of LLM students will fulfill the skills requirement through Pathway 5.
Skills Competency for Pro Bono Scholars
Pathway 3 provides that any applicant who has successfully completed the Pro Bono Scholars Program (“PBSP”) will be deemed to have satisfied the skills competency requirement. The Pro Bono Scholars Program, implemented in New York in 2014, gives law students the option to take the bar examination early and spend their final semester of study performing pro bono work.
Fulfillment of Requirement: Students who elect to follow the Pro Bono Scholars program will be able to demonstrate the necessary skills and values required for legal practice and qualify for admission to the New York Bar under Pathway 3 in addition to Pathway 1.
Skills Competency Requirement for Social Justice Pathways Fellows
Pathway 4 allows applicants to complete a post-graduation six-month apprenticeship in the United States, or in a commonwealth, territory or country outside the United States, under the supervision of an attorney authorized to practice and in good standing in the jurisdiction where the work is performed. The apprenticeship can be paid or unpaid.
Fulfillment of Requirement: Students who participate in the Social Justice Pathways Fellowship, which enables JD graduates obtain positions in public interest organizations under the supervision of licensed attorneys, will be able to demonstrate their skills and values competency through Pathway 4, as well as Pathway 1.
ADA Test Accommodations:
The Board’s application, instructions, and documentation guidelines for candidates requesting test accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act are available for download from the Board’s website at www.nybarexam.org/ADA/ADA.htm.
Note that the Board no longer accepts a postmark date as the method for timely filing of documents; rather, applications for test accommodations must be received in the Board’s office no later than November 30 for the February examination and April 30 for the July examination. Also, the Board’s rule for appealing the denial of accommodations has been modified. Pursuant to Board Rule 6000.4(e), the appeal may not present any new diagnosis or disability that was not discussed in the candidate’s application, nor may any additional documentation that was not originally provided with the application be offered on the appeal. Appeals must be received at the Board's office no later than 14 days from the date of the Board’s determination.
For assistance in completing Certification of Accommodations History forms, please contact Columbia University's Disability Services office at 212-854-2668 or email inquires to [email protected].
For additional information based on degree and steps on applying for the
July 2019 NYS Bar Examination, see below: