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Can I Take the Bar Exam If I’m Schooling Outside the US?

Bar Exam International
International students have many great reasons to practice law in the United States. In several U.S. cities, there are plenty of opportunities for those with foreign language skills and foreign law experience. So, if you earned your law degree from another country, you might wonder, “Can I take the bar exam if I go to school outside the United States?”

The answer to this question is “it depends on the state.” Some states and territories are a definite “no.” Anyone who has graduated from a law school outside the United States may not be eligible for admission to the bar in:

Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, South Dakota, Virginia, Wyoming, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands

Bar Admission Requirements in Each State

As we can learn from the American Bar Association’s section on foreign lawyers’ eligibility to take the bar: “Foreign lawyers who wish to sit for the bar examination should refer to Chart 4: Eligibility to Take the Bar Examination in the Comprehensive Guide to Bar Admission Requirements and contact the state board of examiners in the state(s) in which they wish to sit for the bar exam.”

How International Students Can Take the Bar in the United States

Chart 4 in the Comprehensive Guide to Bar Admission Requirements shows that in each state in the U.S., there are different ways you can become eligible to take the bar if you went to law school outside the United States. On that chart, you can see several questions answered. For example:

    • Are graduates of foreign law schools eligible for admission?
    • If graduates of foreign law schools are eligible for admission by examination, are any of the following required?

-Legal education in English common law
-Additional education at an ABA-approved law school
-Determination of educational equivalency
-Admission in another U.S. jurisdiction
-Practice of law in a foreign jurisdiction

    • If graduates of foreign law schools are eligible for admission without examination under your rules, are any of the following also required?

-Legal education in English common law
-Additional education at an ABA-approved law school
-Determination of educational equivalency
-Admission in another U.S. jurisdiction
-Practice of law in a foreign jurisdiction

Almost all states answer “no” to the question of whether they regularly recognize the legal education at any particular law school outside the United States.

The majority of states also answer no when asked “if a foreign law school graduate obtains an L.L.M. or other graduate law degree from an ABA-approved law school, are they eligible the bar exam on this basis alone?

Check Your State

In the end, the best way to know if you can take the bar exam if you go to school outside the United States is to check the rules for the state you want to take the bar in.

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