Ohio Bar Requirements

Ohio’s eligibility requirements for lawyers trained abroad are very challenging for those who wish to seek admission by examination. Before applying to take the exam, all candidates must first submit an “Application to Register as a Candidate for Admission to the Practice of Law.” The character and fitness investigation occurs at this stage along with the submission of many other forms.

For applicants that received their undergraduate or legal education outside of the U.S., they must submit the following documents for a review of equivalency:

  • An education evaluation completed by an evaluation service approved by the Court that shows that the applicant has completed at least three years of full-time post-secondary study. Two years of full-time post-secondary study may be accepted under limited circumstances based on the outcome of the evaluation namely where the applicant can show that their secondary education is equivalent to one year of post-secondary education (still making the exhibited total three years);
  • An education evaluation that show that the applicant completed the equivalent of at least three years of full-time formal legal study and received a law degree; and
  • A properly authenticated transcript showing successful completion of 30 credit hours of courses taken at a law school approved by the ABA with:
    • Twenty of the 30 hours being chosen from a specific list provided by the Court (see the list below), and
      • 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)

    • All the hours being completed within a period of 48 calendar months
    • This US law study requirement can be met with proper structuring of the Moritz LL.M. program.

In short, applicants have to show seven total years of study as broken out in the three main bullet points above. A three year LL.B. is not enough by itself to establish complete educational equivalence in the State of Ohio.

If a candidate is found to be lacking in the requisite years of undergraduate education, courses can be taken at a US college or university to make up the difference. While no specific courses or subjects are required by the Court, applicants must be mindful that their transcripts, which note the types of courses completed, will be thoroughly reviewed. Pursuit and successful completion of a J.D. degree is also an option where educational equivalency is deficient.

The second stage is to submit an Application for Ohio Bar Examination. Many additional documents are required at this time as well.

Examination Registration Application Deadline Regular Bar Exam Application Timeframe
February August 15 April 1 – May 10
July January 15 November 1 – December 10

Prior to being admitted, applicants must also have reached the age of 21 and have successfully passed the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE)*.

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.

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


* 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/.