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New York Bar Exam

Many LL.M. students choose to sit for a bar examination in the United States upon completion of their Master of Laws studies. Although most states do not permit individuals to sit for their bar examinations unless they hold a J.D. degree from a U.S. law school, California and New York are the most notable exceptions to this rule. Many LL.M. students sit for the bar exam in New York State because its admission rules are hospitable to attorneys trained outside the U.S. This goal can generally be achieved within the confines of the educational curriculum of the Wake Forest LL.M. program, though please be sure to refer to the regulations pertinent to the required legal education for those that have studied Law in a foreign country. Your academic and professional advisors will be able to counsel you on these requirements as well.

Foreign lawyers who intend to reside permanently and practice law in the United States or those who wish to take other state bar examinations should consider applying for the Two-Year JD for International Lawyers program at Wake Forest Law.

New York Bar Overview:
If you are considering taking the NY Exam, you should carefully read the information on the official website of the Board of Law Examiners of the State of New York (BOLE), http://www.nybarexam.org/.

Advance Evaluation of Eligibility for Foreign Educated Applicants: 
All first-time foreign-educated applicants must submit their credentials to the NY BOLE to determine their eligibility for admission to the bar at least 6 months prior to the start of the application filing period for the exam they wish to take. Applicants should carefully review the eligibility requirements and the application process for the advance evaluation, which can be found on the New York Bar website at http://www.nybarexam.org/Foreign/ForeignLegalEducation.htm. After submitting  both the Online Foreign Evaluation Form and all required documents, you should receive a decision on your eligibility in approximately ten to twelve weeks.

Facts about the NY Bar:
Application Fee: $750 for foreign-educated applicants. There is an additional $100 fee if you wish to use your laptop during the exam. For more information on this program, go to  http://www.nybarexam.org/TheBar/TheBar.htm#laptop.
Bar Exam Location: Albany, New York City, and Buffalo, NY
Bar Exam Format: The bar examination consists of two sections, the New York section which is given on bar examination Tuesday, and the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) which is given on Wednesday:

  • The New York section consists of five essay questions and 50 multiple choice questions prepared by the New York Board of Law Examiners, and one Multistate Performance Test (MPT) question developed by the National Conference of Bar Examiners. The MPT is a 90 minute skills question test that is designed to test an applicant’s ability to use fundamental lawyering skills in a realistic situation. Additional information on the MPT, including availability of study aids, is available from the National Conference of Bar Examiners.
  • The Multistate Bar Examination consists of 200 multiple choice questions that covers topics such as Contracts, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, Evidence, Real Property, and Torts (including statutory no-fault insurance provisions). More information can be found on the NY Bar Content Outline.

Bar Review:
Most LL.M. students take a commercial bar preparation course before sitting for the Bar Exam. The Law School does not recommend any particular course and the links below are provided for reference only.

To learn more, check out one of our alumni’s blog entry about her experience preparing for and taking the Study Preparation.

The Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE):
Applicants must take and pass the MPRE before or after taking the NY Bar. The MPRE is a two hour, 60-question multiple-choice examination that is administered three times per year in March, August, & November. The purpose of the MPRE is to measure the examinee’s knowledge and understanding of established standards related to a lawyer’s professional conduct. More information regarding the MPRE is available through the National Conference of Bar Examiners.

LL.M. Course Requirements:
According to the Foreign Legal Education handbook, applicants must pursue coursework approved by the New York Court of Appeals under the Court Rule 520.6 during their LL.M. program to be eligible to sit for the NY Bar Examination. The following list of Wake Forest Law courses have been approved by the New York Bar Board of Examiners.

If you plan to take the New York bar, the following three courses are required:

  • Professional Responsibility (2 credits)
  • Legal Research and Writing for International Lawyers (2 credits)
  • Introduction to American Law (2 credits)

Additionally, you must take at least six (6) credits in Basic Law courses as tested on the New York Bar exam. This list of courses have been approved to fulfill this requirement:

  • Agency
  • Business Organizations
  • Civil Procedure
  • Constitutional Law
  • Contracts
  • Contracts and Commercial Transactions LAWR
  • Criminal Law
  • Conflict of Laws Criminal Procedure
  • Decadents Estates and Trusts
  • Evidence
  • Family Law
  • Property
  • Sales, Leases, Transactions and International Sales
  • Secured Transactions
  • Torts

Pro-Bono Requirements:
Students who have passed the bar exam must apply for admission to the New York Bar. Under a new rule adopted in September 2012 by the New York State Court of Appeals, any applicant seeking admission to practice in New York must complete fifty (50) hours of qualifying pro bono legal work prior to bar admission. Students who plan to take the bar in July 2014 will  need to comply with this pro bono rule, as it can several months for applicants to be admitted to the bar after they have taken the exam.

Optional Practical Training and the Bar Exam:
If you plan on taking the New York Bar, you will need to extend your visa with Optional Practical Training. Although this extension is usually for students who wish to find an internship after their LL.M. studies, it is also required for those planning to take the New York Bar in July or February.