Future JD Students

Admission to the Bar

Each state has its own bar association. Lawyers may practice only in the state or states where they are members of the bar in good standing. However, many states will admit a lawyer to its bar if the lawyer has been admitted to the bar of another state and has practiced law actively for a certain number of years. This is known as "admission by motion." Courts often grant temporary bar admission to out-of-state lawyers for the duration of a specific case. Many states have student practice rules that, in conjunction with students' academic programs, admit advanced law students who are under the close supervision of an admitted lawyer. A few states require law students to register with the board of bar examiners before graduation or, in some cases, soon after they are enrolled in law school, if they intend to practice in those states. So, if you're planning to attend law school, you should check the bar admission requirements (PDF) for those states in which you may wish to practice after graduation.

Some state bar associations inquire about the law school admission records of those seeking admission to the bar. You should keep and maintain complete copies of all law school application records throughout the admission cycle and your law school career.

All states accept graduation from an ABA-approved law school as meeting the state's education requirement for eligibility to sit for the bar examination. (Please note: ABA-approved law schools may not offer a JD degree program that is online or done through correspondence study, sometimes referred to as "distance education.") A number of states have special rules that accept other forms of legal education as sufficient. For information regarding bar admission requirements, download the Comprehensive Guide to Bar Admission Requirements. The latest edition should also be available in any law school library or can be ordered through the ABA Service Center at 1.800.285.2221. If you would like additional information relating to bar admissions about a specific state, please contact the appropriate authority in that state. Also, you may want to visit the websites for the National Conference of Bar Examiners and the American Bar Association Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar.

The bar examination is a two-day test, offered at the end of February and July, with considerably more applicants taking the summer test because it falls after graduation from law school.

  • A Note to Graduates of Law Schools Located Outside the United States (PDF)

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