State Bar Information
Bar Admission Overview
During law school, a student evolves from educational consumer to legal professional. An important part of this transition is taking ownership of the professional obligations inherent in becoming and remaining a licensed attorney.
In order to obtain a license to practice law, law graduates must apply for bar admission in the state(s) where they wish to practice. The bar exam is offered twice a year in most jurisdictions, in July and in February. It is important that you:
(1) research and understand the unique licensure requirements of the jurisdiction,
(2) thoroughly review and complete all necessary forms in compliance with any applicable deadlines,
(3) communicate directly with the state board of bar examiners to resolve any questions related to the bar examination, licensing, and continuing legal education (“CLE”) requirements,
(4) register and sit for the MPRE and state bar examination. Rules vary dramatically from state to state, and you should carefully review the requirements of the state bar examiners where you plan to sit for the bar (links to the MPRE and state board of bar examiners’ sites are below).
(5) satisfy the jurisdiction’s Character and Fitness qualifications for admission. Each jurisdiction’s bar admissions process contains a character and fitness review, which will require full disclosure of past conduct relevant to one’s fitness to practice law. Should you have any questions about the character and fitness portion of the application process, please contact the Dean of Students, Felicia Lin, at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Bar Admission Resources
National Conference of Bar Examiners - find detailed jurisdictional requirements, including dates and deadlines, testing requirements, and character and fitness information.
- MPRE: Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam - required for admission to the bars of all US jurisdictions, except Wisconsin and Puerto Rico. The MPRE is based on the law governing the conduct of lawyers. The examination is administered three times per year (March, August, and November).
- Bar Examination: there are several test formats, which vary by jurisdiction, but may include:
- Review the Comprehensive Guide to Bar Admission Requirements - this resource provides annually updated information on bar admission requirements in all U.S. jurisdictions, including a directory of state bar admission agencies.
- Character & Fitness - review each jurisdictions requirements.
American Bar Association - provides a helpful overview of the bar admission process.
Bar Review Courses - many law graduates take a commercial bar review course beginning in May after graduation. The Law School does not endorse any particular company but encourages you to research which company is the best option for you. You can speak with fellow alumni, your employer, and bar review company representatives.
If the bar examiners requires that the Law School complete a Law School Certificate or Deans Certification form, please submit your form into the Registrar’s Office or send the form to the following address:
The Registrar’s Office
University of Pennsylvania Law School
3501 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6204
If the bar also requires that we submit a copy of your law school application or other pertinent information, please request this at the time of the submission of your bar form.
Additionally, the Registrar’s Office can notarize any required forms or documents.
There is no fee for the completion of bar forms and supporting documents. However, if the bar requires an official copy of your transcript, you will need to include $10.00 (cash or check) for each transcript. Checks should be made payable to the “University of Pennsylvania.”
State Bar Examiners Web Sites
As state specific information is variable, all law students should consult the board of law examiners in the jurisdiction(s) in which they are likely to practice law. First-year J.D. students may be able to reduce their fees by registering with certain Bars early in their law school careers. Upper class and LL.M. students should carefully observe all deadlines, fee payments, and other requirements for registering for and taking bar exams. Links to the bar examiner web sites are below.
- New York Skills Competency & Professional Values Requirement: The addition of Section 520.18 to New York’s Rules of the Court of Appeals for the Admission of Attorneys and Counselors at Law requires that all JDs applying to the New York bar who began their programs of study after August 1, 2016 (i.e. JDs graduating in May 2019 and later), and all LLMs applying to the New York bar who began their programs of study after August 1, 2018 (i.e. LLMs graduating in May 2019 and later), complete a skills competency component. There are five potential ways for applicants to satisfy this requirement. Penn Law will certify graduates who have successfully completed the components detailed on the attached document as satisfying the skills competency requirement under Section 520.18(a)(1), which is commonly referred to as “Pathway One”.
- New York Law Course and New York Law Exam: The New York Court of Appeals adopted the UBE effective with the July 2016 administration of the New York State bar examination. 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 (NYLC) and take and pass an online examination on New York law (NYLE) as a requirement for admission. Applicants must complete the NYLC before they may register for the NYLE. The Board has prepared comprehensive course materials for the NYLC and NYLE. Additional information is available here .