Requirements and Applications
Admission to the bar is controlled by each state and generally requires: 1) an application, 2) passage of the bar examination for that state (including the multi-state professional responsibility exam), and 3) a character and fitness review. Each state has a bar admissions office, such as the Board of Bar Examiners in Massachusetts, the Connecticut Bar Examining Committee in Connecticut and the Board of Law Examiners in New York. The National Conference of Bar Examiners provides the address and website of each state's bar admissions office. You should consult the bar admission office in the jurisdiction in which you intend to apply for admission as to the specific forms and requirements for that particular jurisdiction. Each jurisdiction has specific requirements that are strictly enforced, and the application process requires careful attention to all requirements, forms and deadlines.
The following states require that law students register for the bar exam as early as the first semester of their first year of law school. These jurisdictions include Alabama, California, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Texas. Registration and applications take time. It is advisable that you give yourself enough time to properly fill out all the required documents. If you are considering applying for the bar examination in those states, you should investigate the registration requirements on the state bar website.
Applying In New England, New York, and Several Other States
A detailed list of the California requirements, including registration and forms, can be obtained from the State Bar of California website. In order to sit for the California bar, applicants must first take and pass the First-Year Law Students’ Examination. This test is administered in Los Angeles and San Francisco in June and October every year. All law students who have successfully completed one year of law study are eligible to apply for the exam. Additionally, applicants must also file applications for the California Bar Examination, a Moral Character determination, and provide an MPRE score. Applicants must also be in compliance with California court ordered child or family support obligations. The fees for general applicants is $614. The fees for attorney applicants is $892. There is an additional laptop fee of $139.
A detailed listing of the Connecticut requirements, along with applications, can be obtained from the Connecticut Bar Examining Committee. In general, Connecticut requires an application signed by the applicant, three references (plus forms from past employers), a certificate from the law school, and the payment of a $750 application fee by money order or certified check. Laptop use for the essay portion is allowed and requires an additional $100.00 fee payable directly to Examsoft.
District of Columbia
The application for the D.C. bar is available at the District of Columbia Courts webpage. Applicants must complete both the D.C. Specific Forms and electronic Character and Fitness Application Form supplied by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE). The applicant must submit the bar examination registration questionnaire, certification from the Dean of the Law School, and the NCBE questionnaire. It is important to note that the original forms plus one complete photocopy must be submitted to the Committee. It should also be noted that ALL APPLICATIONS MUST BE TYPEWRITTEN. INCOMPLETE, HANDWRITTEN, OR DOUBLE-SIDED APPLICATIONS WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED. There are separate filing fees that require separate checks: $100 to the “Clerk, D.C. Court of Appeals;” $45 to the “National Conference of Bar Examiners” (written examination); $60 to the “National Conference of Bar Examiners” (MBE); and a Character Report fee.
A detailed list of the Florida requirements, along with application, can be obtained from the Florida Board of Bar Examiners. In general, the Applicant must submit an online application. Additionally, the applicant must be fingerprinted electronically by MorphoTrust USA. This must be completed before you submit your Bar Application, Student Registration, or CLI Registration. The fee for fingerprints is $56.50. A checklist is available for further information, such as residency, school, and employment history.
Although it is not required to register as a first-year law student, you are encouraged to register during your first year to save time and money. First-year law students can pay as little as $100 filing fee. Fees for law students who did not file an early registration can be as high as $1,000. There is a $125 laptop fee. All applicants must take the bar exam in Florida in order to practice. Florida does not offer Reciprocity. Florida also does not accept transferred MBE scores.
A detailed list of the Maine requirements, along with application, can be obtained from the State of Maine Board of Bar Examiners. In general, Maine requires a certificate from the undergraduate school from which you graduated, a certificate from each law school you attended, and a scaled MPRE score of at least 80. Additional requirements are needed depending on your particular circumstances.
Applicants who have not been admitted to practice in another jurisdiction or have been admitted to practice in a jurisdiction for less than one year by the filing deadline, will need the “Not Admitted in Another Jurisdiction for One Year or More” application, a $400 examination fee by personal or business check, money order, cashier’s check, or certified check payable to the Maine Board of Bar Examiners, a Reference Questionaire, and three to five (3-5) references listed.
Applicants who have been admitted to practice in another jurisdiction for more than one year by the filing deadline, will need a “National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE)” application, and the “Maine Supplemental Application and Forms for Applicants admitted in another jurisdiction for one year or more” application. The examination fee for these applicants is $500, with a separate fee of $375 for the NCBE application. This can be paid by personal or business check, money order, cashier’s check, or certified check payable to the Maine Board of Bar Examiners. You must also file a Certificate of Good Standing from each jurisdiction to which you are admitted.
Applicants for reciprocal admission (i.e. attorneys who qualify under Maine Bar Admissions Rule 11A) must complete the NCBE application form, the request for an NCBE character report, and the “Maine Reciprocal Admission Application.” Applicants must pay $600, with a separate fee of $375 for the NCBE application. This can be paid by personal or business check, money order, cashier’s check, or certified check payable to the Maine Board of Bar Examiners.
A detailed listing of the Massachusetts requirements, along with applications, can be obtained from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners. In general, Massachusetts requires an application signed by the applicant and a member of the Massachusetts bar, two letters of recommendation, a certificate from the law school, a MultiState Professional Responsibility Examination score report, and the payment of an $815 application fee by money order or bank check. Laptop use for the essay portion is allowed and requires two non-refundable fees to be paid: 1) a technology fee of $75.00 payable to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as mandated by G.L.c. 221 §37; and 2) a software license and service free of $100.00 payable directly to Examsoft.
Sample application forms:
A detailed list of the New Hampshire requirements, along with application, can be obtained from the New Hampshire Board of Bar Examiners. In general, applicants are required to submit a Petitioner and Questionnaire of Admission to the Bar of New Hampshire, and the Application for the New Hampshire Bar Examination. Note: You must have an NCBE number. The application fee is $700 by check or money order. Applicants using laptop computers for the exam will submit information about registering their laptops after applications are submitted. A more detailed look at the bar schedule and scoring is available on the New Hampshire Judicial branch website. The deadline for the February bar exam is December 1 of the preceding year. The deadline for the July bar exam is May 1.
A detailed list of the New Jersey requirements, along with application, can be obtained from the New Jersey Board of Bar Examiners. In general, New Jersey requires an application form, authorization and release form, character and fitness questionnaire, a certified complete driving history record from the jurisdiction(s) in which you hold or have held a driver’s license in the last seven (7) years, law school certificate, and any supplemental documentations. Applicants must also be fingerprinted after the acknowledgement packet is received. The applicant must first create a personal NJ Bar Admission Registration account. The fee for timely filed applications is $575. The first late deadline filing fee is $850. The final deadline filing fee is $1,100. Laptops are registered at a separate time. There is no additional fee for time laptop registration. First late laptop registration fee is $75. Final late laptop registration fee is $150.
A detailed listing of the New York requirements, along with applications, can be obtained from the New York State Board of Law Examiners. In general, New York requires an application signed by the applicant, a specimen of applicant's handwriting, a certificate from the law school (and a verification of a handwriting sample), and the payment of a $250 application fee. Laptop use for the essay portion is allowed and requires a non-refundable technology fee $100.00 payable directly to Examsoft.
Sample application forms:
A detailed list of the Pennsylvania requirements, along with application, can be obtained from the Pennsylvania Board of Law Examiners. In general, Pennsylvania requires an application form submitted online. The application requires background information pertaining to character, education, employment, military service, financial responsibility and criminal history. The applicant will also need an NCBE number. Filing fees for timely application is $575, with an additional $115 for laptop registration. Filing fees for the first late deadline is $725. Filing fees for the second late deadline is $1,025. Filing fees for the final deadline is $1,425. There is an additional laptop fee for late registration of $165, with an amendment form. Pennsylvania offers a helpful walk-through of the online application process.
A detailed list of the Rhode Island requirements can be obtained from the Rhode Island Bar Administrator and the Board of Bar Examiners. In general, the applicant must submit a petition/questionnaire for admission to the Rhode Island Bar, a witnessed handwriting sample form, background checks for all states lived in for six (6) months or more, and current credit report. The applicant must also provide a Certificate of Dean/Administrator of Law School, a Certified transcript, two (2) certificates of good moral character, employer verification forms from every employer where you worked full time or part-time longer than six (6) months since turning 21 years of age. These documents should be forwarded directly to the Committee on Character and Fitness from the individuals who complete the forms. The application fee is $600, payable to Committee on Character and Fitness. There is no additional fee for laptop users. The application deadline is December 1 for the February exam, and May 1 for the July exam.
A detailed list of the Texas requirements can be obtained from the Texas Board of Law Examiners. In general, Texas requires an application and fingerprinting. The filing deadlines for the February exam are between June 30 and August 30. The late filing date for February is October 30. The filing deadline for the July exam are between November 30 and January 30. The late filing date for July is March 30. There are several fees, including $150 for a declaration investigation, $40 for fingerprint processing, $150 for the application, $95 for the examination fee, and $50 for the laptop examination fee along with an additional software license fee of $107.00 to Examsoft. The late filing fee is $150. Texas law students must pay $75 for an investigation fee. Out-of-state law students must pay $150 for an investigation fee. Texas does not offer Reciprocity. Texas also does not accept transferred MBE scores.
A detailed list of the Vermont requirements can be obtained from the Vermont Board of Bar Examiners. The Frequently Asked Questions section can also provide helpful information. Applicants must submit an application and complete the NCBE Standard Character and Fitness Electronic Application. The filing dates are December 1 for February bar exams, and May 1 for July bar exams. Applicants must also send proof of completion of educational requirement, and a certified copy of MBE score to Vermont. Additionally, applicants for admission by examination must serve a three-month clerkship, preferably under the supervision of a Vermont Attorney. This does not have to be completed by the bar examination. The clerkship does not have to be completed in Vermont, but the Board of Bar Examiners must approve the clerkship. The clerkship requires a minimum of 25 hours during a 7 day period for 12 weeks, or a minimum of 30 hours during a 14 day period for 24 weeks. There are two exceptions to the clerkship requirements: (1) applicants who have completed a four-year law office study; (2) admission without examination, with a CLE requirement of 15 hours of Board of Bar Examiner-approved continuing legal education on Vermont practice and procedure within six months of filing the application.
There are a variety of fees required for Vermont. The fees include $15 for application for admission packet, $240 for filing of petition for admission by examination (payable to the Vermont Board of Bar Examiners), $50 laptop fee to the Vermont Board of Bar Examiners, with an additional $50 software fee to ExamSoft. Additionally, there is a $25 first time registration of three or six month law office study fee and a $200 first time registration of law office study. For applicants filing a petition for admission on motion without examination, the fee is $600. There is a $50 administrative fee for filed petition withdrawn.