Bar Admission Requirements

In order to obtain a license to practice law, law school graduates must apply for bar admission through the board of bar examiners in the state(s) where they wish to practice. Licensing involves a demonstration of worthiness in two areas—competence and character and fitness. To meet the competency requirement, an applicant must hold an acceptable educational credential (most often a J.D., though also on occasion an LL.M.) and pass the state’s bar exam. To meet the character and fitness requirement, the state-specific board of bar examiners must be satisfied that the applicant’s background meets certain standards of conduct.

Because each state determines what criteria it will use to determine an attorney’s eligibility for law practice, it is critical that you determine the individual requirements for your state prior to embarking on the bar admission process. Links to each state’s bar admissions office is available online through the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) website.