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California Bar Requirements
This information has been taken from the State Bar of California “Foreign Education Bulletin.” The information provided on this webpage is intended to be a guide in the Bar Admission process, but it is ultimately each student’s responsibility to understand bar admission requirements for the jurisdiction in which one intends to become licensed.
Generally Applicable Requirements to be Admitted to Practice Law in California:
- Have a first degree in law from a law school in a foreign state or country and have completed a year of legal education at an ABA-approved law school
- Pass the State of California Bar Examination, which consists of the General Bar Examination and the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE)
- Receive a positive moral character determination
- Pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE)*
- Be in compliance with any California court ordered child or family support obligation.
- Have a social security number (see calbar.ca.gov/admissions for more information regarding the social security number requirement and exemption).
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.
Foreign Law Students with First Degree in Law
Law Students who received their first degree in law from a law school outside the United States must establish their eligibility to take the California Bar Examination by showing that their degree is equivalent to a Juris Doctor (JD) degree awarded by an American Bar Association (ABA) approved or California accredited law school in the United States and that they have successfully completed a year of law study at an ABA-approved law school or a law school accredited by the Committee in the areas of law as outlined in the Committee’s “Guidelines for Implementation of Chapter 2, Rule 4.30 of the Admissions Rules.” Law students in this category seeking to qualify to take the General Bar Examination should follow these steps:
- Register as a law student or attorney with the State Bar of California’s Office of Admissions.
- Complete a “Registration as a Foreign Educated General Applicant” form with the required registration fee of $119 (for those not enrolled in a law school located in the United States) or the online application (for those enrolled in a law school located in the United States).
- Apply for the Moral Character Determination.
- After registering online or by paper, an applicant should submit an evaluated law degree equivalency report, which must be completed by a credential evaluation agency approved by the Committee, a completed “Foreign Law Study Evaluation Summary” form and a certified transcript of all legal studies completed, with a notarized translation if in a language other than English.
- If you are intending to qualify to take the examination as an foreign educated applicant with a first degree in law through an additional year of law study at an ABA-approved or California accredited law school, in addition to listing the law school, indicate the degree program in which you are enrolled, the courses in which you are enrolled and the date you intend to complete the program. Refer to the Committee’s “Guidelines for Implementation of Chapter 2, Rule 4.30 of the Admissions Rules for the specific courses that must be completed in order to qualify to take the California Bar Examination.
- Official transcripts from law schools to certify that the applicant has fulfilled the legal education requirements set forth in Rule 4.26 of the Admissions Rules. Applicants will be allowed to take the examination based upon certification by the law school that the applicant has met the pre-legal education and legal education requirements. If law school certifications/transcripts are not received by the final law school certification deadline, applicants will be notified.
Documents in a language other than English must be accompanied by a notarized translation by a disinterested party, which is attested to with respect to accuracy.
Information provided by a credential evaluation agency regarding the completion of a law degree and number of years of study is considered advisory; the Committee reserves the right to make the final decision with regard to law study equivalency and how much credit the law student will receive toward qualifying to take the General Bar Examination. A determination of eligibility will be made after review of all required documents and applicants will thereafter be notified of their status regarding eligibility to take the California Bar Examination, exemption from the First-Year Law Students’ Examination or the requirement to take the First-Year Law Students’ Examination, and whether any additional course work is required. First-Year Law Students’ Examination exemption is established by passing the bar examination of another jurisdiction or successfully completing the first year of law study at an ABA approved or California accredited law school.
|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/.