Planning for the State Bar

First Year

Registration with the State Bar

  • The State Bar of California suggests that students who intend to sit for the California Bar Examination register with the Bar within 90 days of matriculation. Registration with the Bar is not the same as the application to take the California Bar Exam.
  • Students must first register with the Bar before they can apply to be certified as law student practitioners (California Practical Training of Law Students). Most of UCI Law’s clinics require PTLS certification.
  • The State Bar also requires registration before students file their Application for Determination of Moral Character.
  • As of October 2016, the fee for law student registration is $119.00.
    Click here for more information about fees related to the Bar Exam.
  • Once you register as a student, make sure you make a note of your registration number: you will use it on all subsequent applications and correspondence with the State Bar.
  • Registration Information for F-1 Visa Holders: Students with an F-1 Visa should carefully read the State Bar’s Foreign Education applicants page. Students who do not have and who cannot obtain a Social Security number (SSN) must file a request for an exemption to submit an SSN. To qualify for an exemption, applicants must state the reason they are unable to qualify for a Social Security number, provide an alternate identification number and attest to not being in arrears with any court-ordered child or family support obligations. Applicants may request exemptions from the SSN requirement by completing and submitting the “Request for Social Security Number Exemption Required for Admission to Practice Law in California” form and the General Applicant/Attorney Applicant registration form. Both forms must be submitted at the same time; otherwise, the process will be delayed. Please contact the Office of Admissions at (213) 765-1500 to request a Social Security number exemption packet.

Subjects Tested

The California Bar exam tests 12 subjects. Your required first-year courses provide coverage for 6 of the 12: Civil Procedure (Procedural Analysis). Constitutional Law (Constitutional Analysis), Contracts (Common Law Analysis: Contracts), Criminal Law (Statutory Analysis), Professional Responsibility (Legal Profession), and Torts (Common Law Analysis: Torts). The other 6 subjects tested are offered as upper-level courses: Evidence, Remedies, Property, Criminal Procedure, Business Associations, Wills and Trusts, Constitutional Law: First Amendment, and Community Property. If you are planning to take the bar examination in another state, please check to see what subjects are tested in that jurisdiction.

Second Year

Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE)

During your second or third year, you are advised to take the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE). The MPRE is required by all states that require a Bar Examination. This standardized exam consists of 60 multiple-choice questions. The exam is 2 hours and 5 minutes long and is administered three times a year, in March, August, and November. Students may take this exam at any of these times after successfully completing the Law School’s Legal Profession class or its equivalent at another school.

Third Year

Moral Character Application

NOTE: Preferably in the fall but no later than January of your third year of law school, make sure to submit your Moral Character Application. Your application must be filed within 90 days of your live-scan fingerprinting or you will have to re-do the prints.

As of October 2016, the fee for filing the Moral Character Application is $551.00. The review process takes approximately 8-10 months for the Bar to verify all information provided, and you will not be admitted to the Bar until it has approved your Moral Character Application.

Your Moral Character Application will require information to be provided dating as far back as high school. Some of the information that will be asked of you includes:

  • List of former names, associated dates and reasons for name change;
  • Residences for the past 8 years with associated dates, including college residences;
  • All colleges and postgraduate schools attended, with associated dates, student ID numbers and degrees earned;
  • Current and previous employment since age 18 that were law-related, and current and previous employment, not law-related, that lasted longer than six months, with the name of the business, position, associated dates, supervisor, telephone number and reason for leaving;
  • Personal references to include five reputable and responsible people who know you well, with their address and telephone information (including at least one member of the bar);
  • Details of any professional or scholastic discipline, arrests or convictions; and,
  • Military service with associated dates, serial numbers, separation status and copy of Form DD214.

Fingerprinting

An additional requirement for California Bar Exam applicants is the submittal of their fingerprints through Live Scan. Your Moral Character Application will not be considered complete without the appropriately processed fingerprints.

The fee for Live Scan fingerprinting ranges from $21 (a commercial company will come on-campus in the fall) to $52 (UCI police department). Additional information about the fingerprinting requirement is available on the State Bar of California website.

California Bar Examination Application Form

NOTE: Make sure you submit your application to take the Bar Exam as soon as possible after the application becomes available. Doing so will help ensure that you get the testing site of your choice.

As of October 2016, the fee for filing the Application to take the California Bar Exam is $677.00.

The deadline for filing your application to take the July 2016 Bar Exam has not yet been set, but is likely to be in early April 2016.

Using Your Laptop During the Exam

If you plan to take the exam on your laptop computer, payment of an additional fee of $153.00 is required. Information regarding use of laptops for the Bar Exam is available on the State Bar’s website.

Petition for Testing Accommodations

If you are a student with a disability in need of testing accommodations for the Bar Exam, plan to make arrangements for testing accommodations well in advance of the examination date (ideally at the beginning of your third year).

You should plan on filing a petition for accommodations no later than at the time you file your application to take an examination. Additional information on testing accommodations may be found on the State Bar of California website.

Free Study Guides

The California Bar makes available free Subject Matter Outlines, past Essay Questions and Selected Answers and past Performance Test Questions and Selected Answers.

Applying to Take Non-California State Bar Exams

Because each state has its own requirements for admission to the Bar, you should investigate the rules for each state in which you think you are likely to seek admission to the Bar.

For information about bar admissions in other jurisdictions and specific eligibility requirements for the New York State Bar, go to the Bar Exams in Other States page.