LL.M. U.S. Bar Requirements

Bar Examination Information for Foreign-Educated Applicants

Each state (and the District of Columbia) has its own licensing rules to practice law in that state. With just a few exceptions, all states require that applicants:  (a) pass a general bar exam; (b) pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE); and (c) be found to have good moral character.  Some states have additional requirements that must be met before an applicant can be licensed to practice. 

Historically, most LL.M. candidates take the New York or California bar examinations.  Detailed information on admission to those states is listed below.  Click here if you are interested in taking the bar exam in another state. 

Please be aware that earning an LL.M. does not guarantee eligibility to sit for a bar exam in the United States.  State Bars, and not UCI School of Law, determine eligibility to sit for a bar exam. Students should consult the individual websites of the State Bar in which they intend to take the bar exam, and carefully follow the instructions posted there.  The information listed below is for informational purposes only.

California State Bar Exam

There are a number of requirements that a candidate must meet before being admitted to the California State Bar.  Some of the requirements apply to every applicant, and others apply only to some applicants.  Please read the following carefully.

Requirements For All Candidates:

Applicants must comply with all of the following requirements before they can be admitted to practice:

Eligibility Requirements for the California Bar Examination

Foreign-educated applicants must establish their eligibility to take the California Bar Examination. This should be done as early as possible.  LL.M. candidates should plan to submit their paperwork to establish eligibility within the first two weeks of matriculation. Eligibility requirements differ depending on whether or not the applicant is admitted to practice law in a jurisdiction outside the United States.

Attorneys who are admitted to practice law in jurisdictions outside the United States
Attorneys in good standing admitted to the active practice of law in a foreign jurisdiction are able to qualify to take the California Bar Examination without any additional legal education.  They do not have to submit a law study transcript, but they must submit proof of admission in a foreign jurisdiction, and they must register with the California State Bar.  Registration with the State Bar is not the same as applying to take the Bar Examination.

Proof of admission in a foreign jurisdiction must be submitted at the same time the attorneys submit their Registration Form to the California State Bar.  The State Bar will review the documents and issue the applicant a Registration Number.  Keep your Registration Number in a safe place.  You must use it to submit your Moral Character application and your application to take the State Bar.  

A U.S. Social Security Number (SSN) is also required when submitting the Registration Form.  The SSN can be waived for foreign applicants who do not qualify for a SSN.  If you do not qualify for a SSN, please request a SSN Exemption Form from the California State Bar:

      Send an email to admissions.la@calbar.ca.gov.  Include the following information:

    • Full name
    • Current mailing address
    • Statement that you are a foreign educated attorney admitted in a foreign jurisdiction and you do not qualify for a SSN.
    • Request a SSN Exemption Form.

If you require a SSN waiver, you must file the SSN Exemption Form at the same time you file the Registration Form.

Students with a first-degree in law from a foreign country but who are not admitted to practice law in a jurisdiction outside the United States
Foreign-educated LL.M. candidates who are not admitted to practice law in a jurisdiction outside the United States must establish their eligibility to take the California Bar Examination shortly after matriculating in a U.S. law school.  Students are urged to submit their forms within two weeks of starting the LL.M. program.  The determination of eligibility to take the California bar examination has three steps. 

    1. You must complete the “Registration as a Foreign Educated General Applicant” form with the required registration fee. Registration with the State Bar is not the same as applying to take the California Bar Examination. Registration fees must be paid by cashier’s check or money order payable to the State Bar of California. Mail the form to:

      The State Bar of California
      Office of Admissions
      845 S. Figueroa Street
      Los Angeles, CA 90017-2515

      A U.S. Social Security Number (SSN) is also required when submitting your registration form.  The SSN can be waived for foreign applicants who do not qualify for a SSN.  If you do not qualify for a SSN, please complete page 4 of the Registration as a Foreign-eduated General Applicant form to request a SSN Exemption from the California State Bar:

      The State Bar will review your Registration Form and the Foreign Law Study Evaluation Summery Form (see below).  If the State Bar determines you are eligible to take the Bar Examination it will issue you a Registration Number.  Keep your Registration Number in a safe place.  You must use it to submit your Moral Character application and your application to take the State Bar.  

    2. At the same time that you send in your Registration form, you must send in your evaluated law degree equivalency report and “Foreign Law Study Evaluation Summary” form, which must be completed by a credential evaluation agency approved by the State Bar.  A detailed course by course evaluation report is required. The State Bar will evaluate this information to determine if your degree from your foreign law school is equivalent to a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree in the U.S.

    3. You must successfully complete one year of legal study in the United States that includes:
      • A minimum of twenty (20) units of credit
      • A minimum of one course in four (4) separate subjects tested on the California Bar Exam for a total of not less than 12 units of credit
        • One of the courses must be Professional Responsibility that covers the California Rules of Professional Conduct, relevant sections of the California Business and Professions Code, the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct, and leading federal and state case law on the subject

      The Law School Registrar will certify that you successfully completed one year of legal study in the United States.
Moral Character Application

Preferably in the fall, but no later than January, 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.

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 age 18. 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 U.S. bar);
  • Details of any professional or scholastic discipline, arrests or convictions; and,
  • Military service with associated dates, serial numbers, separation status and for U.S. military service, a copy of Form DD214.
Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE)

The MPRE is offered three times a year, in March, August, and November.  It is a two hour, 60 question multiple choice test that measures examinees' knowledge and understanding of established standards related to the professional conduct of lawyers.

California Bar Examination

The application to take the July Bar Exam usually becomes available in March.  Information regarding use of laptops for the Bar Exam is on the State Bar’s website

The California Bar has free Subject Matter Outlines, past Essay Questions and Selected Answers and past Performance Test Questions and Selected Answers on its website.    

New York State Bar Examination

There are a number of requirements that a candidate must meet before being admitted to the New York State Bar.  Some of the requirements apply to every applicant, and others apply only to some applicants.  Please read the following carefully.

Requirements For All Candidates:

Applicants must comply with all of the following requirements before they can be admitted to practice:

Eligibility Requirements for the New York Bar Examination

Foreign-educated applicants must establish their eligibility to take the New York Bar Examination. All first-time applicants under Rule 520.6 must complete the online Foreign Evaluation Form and submit other required documentation such as transcripts.  In some instances, a transcript alone will not be enough to determine eligibility for the examination.  Carefully review the eligibility requirements for a complete list of all the supporting documentation that must be submitted.

Contact

Khary D. Hornsby
Assistant Dean for LL.M. and International Programs
khornsby@law.uci.edu
(949) 824-4387

Mary Germain
Senior International Programs Administrator
mgermain@law.uci.edu
(949) 824-5335