California Bar Requirements

Generally Applicable Requirements to be Admitted to Practice Law in California:

  • Passing the State of California Bar test, which consists of the General Bar Examination and the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE);
  • Receiving a positive moral character determination;
  • Passing the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE)*; and
  • Being in compliance with any California court ordered child or family support obligation.

There is no requirement of citizenship or residency. However, all applicants for admission are required to provide a social security number. Applicants that do not have social security numbers because he/she does not qualify for one may request an exemption from the requirement of providing a social security number at the time they file a registration application with the Committee of Bar Examiners (Committee). See www.calbar.ca.gov/admissions for more information regarding the social security number requirement and exemption.

FOR ATTORNEYS ADMITTED TO PRACTICE LAW OUTSIDE THE U.S., the State Bar of California is an attractive option and may even be a preferable selection to the New York State Bar. Such attorneys are able to qualify to take the California Bar Examination without having to complete any additional legal education.

  • First, applicants must register online with the Committee of Bar Examiners (CBE) before filing a moral character determination or examination application.
  • Applicants that are licensed in a jurisdiction outside the U.S.  must submit a Certificate of Good Standing document from the jurisdiction of admission along with other required applications and documentation.
  • See: http://admissions.calbar.ca.gov/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=MK-p_BBvcAE%3D&tabid=265

FOR ATTORNEYS NOT ADMITTED TO PRACTICE LAW OUTSIDE THE U.S., the State Bar of California probably is not ideal unless the applicant has earned an LL.M. degree from a California law school.

There are two sets of guidelines for foreign-trained law students: one set for those who received a first law degree from a law school outside the U.S. and another set for those who have completed some study, but did not receive a degree. The rules summarized here only apply to those who have completed a degree since that is also a requirement for admission into the Moritz LL.M. program. Law students in this category must submit the following to the State Bar’s Office in Los Angeles:

  • A completed “Registration as a Foreign Educated General Applicant” form with the required $108 fee;
  • An evaluated law degree equivalency report and a “Foreign Law Study Evaluation Summary” form, which must be completed by a credential evaluation agency approved by the Committee. The report and summary must shoe that the applicant’s first law degree is

Substantially equivalent to a Juris Doctor degree awarded by a law school approved by the American Bar Association or accredited by the Committee; and

  • A certified transcript of all legal studies completed, which must include the beginning and ending dates of enrollment, each class taken, the grade or mark received for each class and the date the degree was awarded to show that the applicants first law degree meets the educational requirements for admission to practice law in the foreign state or country in which it was obtained.
  • A certificate from a law school approved by the American Bar Association or accredited by the Committee certifying that the applicant has either:
  • Earned an LL.M. based on a minimum of 20 semester credit hours that included a minimum of one course in four separate subjects tested on the California Bar Examination totaling at least 12 semester credit hours, with one of the four courses  covering California Rules of Professional Conduct, relevant sections of the California Business and Professions Code, the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct, and leading federal and state case law on the subject; or
  • Successfully completed all of the same graduate legal study requirements listed above even without having obtained the LL.M. degree.
Examination Applications Available Timely Filing Deadline Final Filing Deadline
February October 1 November 1 January 15
July March 1 April 1 June 15

 

* Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE):

The MPRE is administered three times each year, in March, August and November. Applications and information regarding the MPRE is available from NCBE at http://www.ncbex.org/about-ncbe-exams/mpre/.