civil law degree and bar admission


After having completed my first Degree in Law in a civil law country, I would like to work towards the Bar exam in the US. I would like to know whether it is possible to take the Bar exam with my education background.
I know that some States (eg NY) offer the possibility to sit the Bar exam for people having a Common Law education background. In addition, people like me are also accepted once they complete the LLM Program..

However, I also read on the net that in Wisconsin, it would be possible to sit the Bar examination without having a background in Common Law. Then again I looked at the requirements on the Bar website and I couldn't find any of this.. So I was wondering is this really true?

Are there any other States which would allow me to take the Bar exam, even without doing the LLM in the US?
After having completed my first Degree in Law in a civil law country, I would like to work towards the Bar exam in the US. I would like to know whether it is possible to take the Bar exam with my education background.
I know that some States (eg NY) offer the possibility to sit the Bar exam for people having a Common Law education background. In addition, people like me are also accepted once they complete the LLM Program..

However, I also read on the net that in Wisconsin, it would be possible to sit the Bar examination without having a background in Common Law. Then again I looked at the requirements on the Bar website and I couldn't find any of this.. So I was wondering is this really true?

Are there any other States which would allow me to take the Bar exam, even without doing the LLM in the US?
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I do not advise trying to sit a USA bar exam without any training in the common law. I do not mean to be snarky---I wish you only the best!---but from the common lawyers perspective it sounds terrible. I can't imagine going to a civil law country and hoping to be a lawyer there without any training in their system. From my (albeit truncated) comparative law course, the common and civil law systems are very different (in approach, not just substance).

As an aside, my comparative law professor warned us that some civil lawyers historically think the common law is an unsystematized, "unscientific" mess, and common lawyers lack the "rigorous" legal training of the civil law.
I do not advise trying to sit a USA bar exam without any training in the common law. I do not mean to be snarky---I wish you only the best!---but from the common lawyers perspective it sounds terrible. I can't imagine going to a civil law country and hoping to be a lawyer there without any training in their system. From my (albeit truncated) comparative law course, the common and civil law systems are very different (in approach, not just substance).

As an aside, my comparative law professor warned us that some civil lawyers historically think the common law is an unsystematized, "unscientific" mess, and common lawyers lack the "rigorous" legal training of the civil law.
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Oldtimer
Dear Brightest_star,

There are two issues that must be taken into account in an answer to your question. The first aspect is the "eligibility" requirements. The second one is the practical considerations.

On the eligibility requirements for the Bar, the rules are defined by the "New York State Board of Law Examiners". As far as I know, NY is the only state that allows foreign trained lawyers to sit for the exam, for which you MUST fulfill certain requirements. I do not know if there are softer requiments for the Common Law countries, but most foreign trained lawyers need to take an LLM in an ABA recognized law school and meet a minium credit requirement (caution: not all course you take qualify for these credits). You can consult the requirements here: http://www.nybarexam.org/Foreign/ForeignLegalEducation.htm

From a practical point of view, the LLM only helps you marginally in getting prepared. You ONLY have a chance of passing the exam if you take a preparatory course, such as Bar/Bri, or study by yourself based on those preparatory materials (I know some people who managed to do the latter, but I would not recommend it). There is simply no chance of passing it without that additional training, even if you were allowed to do so and even if you come from another common law jurisdiction.

Having passed the exam some time ago, I would say it is not a test were legal reasoning is evaluated. It is more a proof of memory and capacity to follow directions than anything else (I forgot long time ago everything I learned for the exam!) . I hope this helps.
Dear Brightest_star,

There are two issues that must be taken into account in an answer to your question. The first aspect is the "eligibility" requirements. The second one is the practical considerations.

On the eligibility requirements for the Bar, the rules are defined by the "New York State Board of Law Examiners". As far as I know, NY is the only state that allows foreign trained lawyers to sit for the exam, for which you MUST fulfill certain requirements. I do not know if there are softer requiments for the Common Law countries, but most foreign trained lawyers need to take an LLM in an ABA recognized law school and meet a minium credit requirement (caution: not all course you take qualify for these credits). You can consult the requirements here: http://www.nybarexam.org/Foreign/ForeignLegalEducation.htm

From a practical point of view, the LLM only helps you marginally in getting prepared. You ONLY have a chance of passing the exam if you take a preparatory course, such as Bar/Bri, or study by yourself based on those preparatory materials (I know some people who managed to do the latter, but I would not recommend it). There is simply no chance of passing it without that additional training, even if you were allowed to do so and even if you come from another common law jurisdiction.

Having passed the exam some time ago, I would say it is not a test were legal reasoning is evaluated. It is more a proof of memory and capacity to follow directions than anything else (I forgot long time ago everything I learned for the exam!) . I hope this helps.
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Ca. allows lawyers from foreign jurisdictions eligibility to sit for its Bar, or if not a lawyer, then the LLM route.

The LLM must cover certain Ca. tested subjects specifically named in the Bar rules. The LLM must also certify that it grades the LLM and JDs on the same grading scale. Overlooking either of these issues will lead to non-eligibility for Ca. but may allow eligibility for the other states and jurisdictions.

Over the past twelve years I have know foreign trained lawyers that have, without a USA JD, sat for several Bars, including New York, but also Washington, D.C., Louisiana, Michigan, Connecticut, Palau, North Carolina by example. States and jurisdictions periodically modify the eligibility rules. Thus, as a first step, it may help you to look at the free PDF download covering all States and jurisdictions issued by the National Conference of Bar Examiners http://www.ncbex.org/comprehensive-guide-to-bar-admissions/ to map out all your possibilities.
Ca. allows lawyers from foreign jurisdictions eligibility to sit for its Bar, or if not a lawyer, then the LLM route.

The LLM must cover certain Ca. tested subjects specifically named in the Bar rules. The LLM must also certify that it grades the LLM and JDs on the same grading scale. Overlooking either of these issues will lead to non-eligibility for Ca. but may allow eligibility for the other states and jurisdictions.

Over the past twelve years I have know foreign trained lawyers that have, without a USA JD, sat for several Bars, including New York, but also Washington, D.C., Louisiana, Michigan, Connecticut, Palau, North Carolina by example. States and jurisdictions periodically modify the eligibility rules. Thus, as a first step, it may help you to look at the free PDF download covering all States and jurisdictions issued by the National Conference of Bar Examiners http://www.ncbex.org/comprehensive-guide-to-bar-admissions/ to map out all your possibilities.
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VeriIT
I personally know people that studied law in a civil law country, attended an LLM in USA, passed the NY Bar Exam and now practice law in New York.
It's not easy of course but if you work hard it's not impossible!And even if you don't do it, it will be nevertheless a wonderful experience both from a professional and a personal point of view.
Of course the specialization is important, maybe they won't need a foreigner with no specialization (better an American trained lawyer in that case) but they may need someone with a niche specialization or that speak your language.
What's more, you could start in a company or as a paralegal and then...
I personally know people that studied law in a civil law country, attended an LLM in USA, passed the NY Bar Exam and now practice law in New York.
It's not easy of course but if you work hard it's not impossible!And even if you don't do it, it will be nevertheless a wonderful experience both from a professional and a personal point of view.
Of course the specialization is important, maybe they won't need a foreigner with no specialization (better an American trained lawyer in that case) but they may need someone with a niche specialization or that speak your language.
What's more, you could start in a company or as a paralegal and then...
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