Ohio Bar Requirements

For the sake of illustration, the steps outlined here summarize the process and requirements for LL.M. students who enter in the fall term and plan to sit for the Ohio Bar during the first possible test administration date following a spring LL.M. graduation (which would be the February exam administered in the following year).

Step One:

A new student must work with the Assistant Dean of International and Graduate Affairs in the summer prior to enrollment to ensure that he/she develops an academic plan that includes:

  1. Thirty (30) credit hours from classroom courses (i.e. traditional courses only; not online, clinic or externship credit hours), and
  2. That 20 of the 30 eligible credit hours are chosen from a specific list provided by the Court:
    • Legal Research/Writing;
    • Business Associations;
    • Conflict of Laws; Constitutional Law;
    • Contracts; Criminal Law/Criminal Procedure;
    • Wills, Trusts and Estates; Evidence;
    • Family Law; Civil Procedure;
    • Federal Income Taxes;
    • Professional Responsibility/Legal Ethics;
    • Property (Real & Personal);
    • Torts; and
    • Uniform Commercial Code (Articles II, III & IX).

Note 1: All credit hours must be completed within a period of 48 calendar months from the date of enrollment. The Ohio Supreme Court requires successful completion of the required credits, but does not require receipt of an LL.M. degree. As stated above, the Moritz LL.M. program can be structured to meet the Court’s mandated guidelines.

Note 2: ALL candidates (J.D. students included) must show that they took at least 10 classroom hours of legal ethics. This requirement is met during the Moritz LL.M. degree program when a student takes one of the law school’s professional responsibility courses.

Step Two:

Once enrolled (or even prior to enrollment if you are able to coordinate all of the documents before the start of the fall semester), a Moritz LL.M. student who is considering the Ohio Bar will need to submit his/her transcripts to a court-approved evaluation service – either WES/World Education Services (www.wes.org) or ECE/Education Credential Evaluators, Inc. (www.ece.org). The Court requires candidates to demonstrate an educational background that is equivalent to that of a candidate who received all their post-secondary education in the U.S. Thus, for someone who earned his/her undergraduate or formal legal education from an institution abroad, the evaluation must show that a total of six (6) years of post-secondary study was successfully completed and that at least three (3) of the total six (6) years was amassed through formal legal education that led to the completion of a law degree. A candidate can request and pay for evaluation of secondary-level (i.e. high school) education transcripts if it may show that one (1) year at this level of study was equivalent to one (1) year of post-secondary study.

Examples:

  1. A five-year joint LL.B./A.B. plus one (1) year of secondary school study that is determined to be equivalent to one (1) year of post-secondary study = Six (6) years of post-secondary study
  2. A four-year LL.B. plus a one-year master’s degree plus a year’s worth of additional post-secondary study comprised of successfully completed undergraduate- or graduate-level credits = Six (6) years of post-secondary study

Note 3: The anticipated completion of an LL.M. degree (or, alternatively stated, the successful completion of 30 credits hours from an American Bar Association-approved law school) does not count toward the six-year requirement.

Note 4: Candidates who are found to be lacking six (6) years of post-secondary educational equivalency can take additional courses to cure this deficiency (as demonstrated in example #2 above). These can be any credits, undergraduate or graduate, in or outside of law; however, candidates should be aware that the Court will see all transcripts and are advised to take courses that are generally substantive in nature.

Note 5: Candidates are encouraged to complete the educational evaluation as early as possible. In the event that less than six (6) years are found by the evaluator, but a candidate believes this is an incorrect determination, you might be advised to contact WES or ECE to see if anything else can be provided for additional review.

Step Three:

Since the Ohio Supreme Court requires demonstrated possession of six (6) years of post-secondary study plus completion of 30 credits in U.S. law, the earliest a spring graduate of the Moritz LL.M. program could potentially sit for the bar exam is in the February following a May graduation. For the February exam administration, a “late” Application to Register as a Candidate for Admission to the Practice of Law (henceforth “Registration Application”) must be submitted by August 15 in the year of graduation. This application is described as being “late” only because the “regular” application deadline is set by the Court for November 15 of the 2nd year of a traditional J.D. course of study. Therefore, anyone who did not earn a J.D. in the U.S., and even J.D. holders who had not planned to take the Ohio Bar by the second year of law school, are considered “late” registration applicants.

A complete checklist of required documents and fees, with important annotations pertaining to lawyers trained abroad, is available here. The Court requires:

  1. A certificate executed by the dean of the law school where you first began the study of law  certifying when you first began the study of law – Lawyers trained abroad do not need to submit this due to the report provided by WES or ECE on behalf of the candidate in Step Two;
  2. A certified  transcript of college credits evidencing that you earned a bachelor’s degree prior to admission to law school – Lawyers trained abroad do not need to submit this due to the report provided by WES or ECE on behalf of the candidate in Step Two;
  3. The original and one copy of an Applicant’s Character Questionnaire, typed and properly  executed;
  4. A fingerprint identification card;
  5. Two original, separately executed  General Authorization and Release forms (7A);
  6. Three original,  separately executed NCBE Authorization and Release forms (7D);
  7. Original  Authorizations to Release Substance Abuse (7B) and/or Mental Health Records  (7C) (if you have answered “yes” to any applicable questions on my Character  Questionnaire);
  8. A registration fee in the amount of $75, by certified  check or money order made payable to the Supreme Court of Ohio;
  9. A fee  by certified check or money order made  payable to the National Conference of Bar Examiners (“NCBE”), in the  appropriate amount as indicated on the NCBE fee schedule;
  10. A “late” registration fee in the amount of $200, by certified  check or money order made payable to the Supreme Court of Ohio;
  11. A complete educational equivalency evaluation by a court approved evaluation service (WES or ECE);
  12. A fee in the amount of $150, by certified  check or money order made payable to the Supreme Court of Ohio, for the Court’s official review of the WES or ECE evaluation;
  13. A certified transcript from the law school where the 30 credits of U.S. legal study was completed;
  14. A signed registration application cover sheet, which is the Court’s formal check list (Note: The list does not include all the items required for submission by lawyers trained abroad. A separate list is not maintained by the Court. Even though some items are missing from the covers sheet, all of the items discussed here must be submitted and the cover sheet still has to be signed).

At this stage, the Court determines whether to approve or disapprove candidates for application to sit for the Ohio Bar. Candidates who were trained abroad will receive all documents and fees back (except the $150 fee for formal review of post-secondary requirements) if disapproved by the Court.

Step Four:

Once approved by the Court, candidates must submit a separate application to sit for an exam administration date. Again, the earliest exam date a traditional, full-time LL.M. spring semester graduate may be eligible for is February. Applications for the February administration are due by either November 1 (regular deadline) or December 10 (late deadline) of the year of graduation, with the required fee (see table).

Examination Late Registration Application   Deadline Regular Bar Exam Deadline Late Bar Exam Deadline
February August 15 (see Step Three) November 1 with $352 fee December 10 with $452 fee
July January 15 (see Step Three) April 1 with $352 fee May 10 with $452 fee

Note 6: Prior to being admitted to the Ohio Bar, candidates must also have reached the age of 21 and have successfully passed the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE)*.

 

See: http://www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/AttySvcs/admissions/foreignApGuidelines.pdf  and  http://www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/LegalResources/Rules/govbar/govbar.pdf#Rule1

 

“Foreign Legal Consultant” Alternative:

Similar to D.C. and some other jurisdictions, Ohio does have a process to admit “Foreign Legal Consultants.” Ohio requires applicants in this category to be able to demonstrate good standing in a jurisdiction abroad for four out of the six years immediately proceeding the application plus proof of good moral character and fitness, immigration compliance and intent to maintain an office in the state. The applicant has to supply letters of recommendation, a summary of pertinent laws and customs and other evidence as to the applicants qualification.

 

* 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/.