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From the Briefing Room

District of Columbia Bar Requirements

This information has been taken from the District of Columbia’s “Committee on Admissions.” 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 the District of Columbia:

  • Have a first degree in law from an ABA-approved law school in a foreign state or have a first degree in a law school not-approved by the ABA and complete at least 26 credit hours of study in an ABA-approved law school
  • Pass the District of Columbia Bar Exam, which consists of the Uniform Bar Examination (UBE)
  • Pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE)*
  • Demonstrate good moral character and general fitness to practice law.

Additional Information:

Foreign Law Students with First Degree in Law

  1. Create an NCBE account and apply for admission by examination.
  2. Submit the following materials:
    • A Bar Exam Registration Questionnaire,
    • An executed certificate from an ABA-approved law school*, proving applicant has graduated from an ABA-approved law school with a J.D. or LL.B. degree, OR
    • An executed certificate from a non-ABA-approved law school which awarded your law degree (J.D. or LL.B.) AND proof that you successfully completed the required 26 semester hours of study in the tested subjects at an ABA-approved law school:  Business Associations (Agency and Partnership; Corporations and Limited Liability Companies), Civil Procedure, Conflict of Laws, Constitutional Law, Contracts (including Article 2 [Sales] of the Uniform Commercial Code), Criminal Law and Procedure, Evidence, Family Law, Real Property, Torts, Trusts and Estates (Decedents’ Estates; Trusts and Future Interests), and Article 9 (Secured Transactions) of the Uniform Commercial Code. Legal Ethics, which is sometimes tested in the MPT portion of the exam, also counts as a tested subject under Rule 46(c)(4).  At its discretion, the Committee may change the subjects. For more information on courses, please see the Guidance for Graduates of Non-ABA Approved Law Schools from the District of Columbia Court of Appeals Committee on Admissions.
    • An Official Transcript from the ABA-approved law school(s) containing the course titles, semester/credit hour values, and grades as well as a copy of the law school’s course description for each such course,
    • An original, current Certificate of Good Standing no more than sixty (60) days old, from the highest state court of each U.S. jurisdiction of which you are a member (if applicable).
    • An Attestation Page, and
    • Authorization and Release Forms (three original copies, all signed and notarized, with the notary’s signature date being within five days of the dates on which you submit your application).
    • Note: *Because some students may have taken classes under the old Rule in an effort to fulfill the 26-semester-hour requirement, the Committee has adopted the following policy: If a course at an ABA-approved school began before March 1, 2016, and the course was substantially concentrated on a subject identified in the list set out in the former Rule 46(b)(8)(iii), the semester hours earned in that course qualify towards the 26-semester-hour requirement for the purposes of the current Rule.
  1. Once accepted, you will receive an examination number and admission card and list of instructions.
Examination Filing Deadline Late Filing Deadline
February December 15 December 30 (additional fee applies)
July May 3 May 18 (additional fee applies)

* 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/.

Admission on Motion

It is possible to be admitted in D.C. without examination:

  1. If you have been a member in good standing of a Bar of a court of general jurisdiction in any U.S. state or territory for at least five years, or
  2. If:
    • You hold a J.D. or LL.B. degree from a law school which, at the time of awarding of the degree, was approved by the American Bar Association,
    • You earned a minimum score of 133 on an Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) taken as part of a prior test administration that was completed within 25 months of the present administration,
    • The subjects tested in the prior administration are the same subjects being tested on the MBE currently in use, and
    • You took and passed the MPRE.

See: https://www.dccourts.gov/sites/default/files/divisionspdfs/committee%20on%20admissions%20pdf/DCCA_Rule_46.pdf#page=5

“Special Legal Consultant” Status

Another (significantly limited) alternative available in D.C. to taking the bar exam is to seek “Special Legal Consultant” status. This may be an option for foreign trained lawyers who are admitted to practice in a country outside the U.S. and who are at least 26 years of age. Legal practice and disciplinary provisions are very strict for Special Legal Consultants, but at the Court’s discretion these individuals may be licensed to practice without examination if the foreign attorney meets the good moral character and general fitness requirements of the D.C. Bar and intends to maintain an office in the District of Columbia. Submit and application and fee:

  • A certificate of admission and good standing from the authority in the foreign jurisdiction;
  • A duly authenticated English translation of such certificate, (if not in English); and
  • A summary of laws and customs of the foreign country pertaining to the proposed scope of practice.

See: http://www.dccourts.gov/internet/documents/rule46c4_license_to_practice_special_legal_consultant.pdf