Foreign Lawyer + Online LL.M. + California Bar


selene777
Hello,
I am a foreign lawyer who lives in the U.S. Right now I am employed, but also working towards getting licensed in the state of California. As I understand it, this would require me to get an LL.M. (I am not a licensed attorney in my home country since rules work differently there).

What I am wondering is if an online LL.M. from an accredited school (along with my 5 year law degree from my home country) would fulfill the requirements for the California Bar. Specifically, I am concerned that the California Bar asks for certain elements to be present in the LL.M.:

"a minimum of one course in four separate subjects tested on the California Bar Examination of not less than a total of twelve (12) semester or equivalent units. One of the four courses must be Professional Responsibility that covers the California Rules of Professional Conduct, relevant sections of the California Business and Professions Code, the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct, and leading federal and state case law on the subject"

I am not aware if any online LL.M. fulfills these requirements, as they mostly seem focused on very exact topics (e.g. tax law). Does anyone here know of any such online LL.M. (e.g. in American Legal Studies), if one indeed exists? I would preferrably not give up my present employment, and thus cannot attend an LL.M. at campus at the moment.

Thank you.

Selene.
Hello,
I am a foreign lawyer who lives in the U.S. Right now I am employed, but also working towards getting licensed in the state of California. As I understand it, this would require me to get an LL.M. (I am not a licensed attorney in my home country since rules work differently there).

What I am wondering is if an online LL.M. from an accredited school (along with my 5 year law degree from my home country) would fulfill the requirements for the California Bar. Specifically, I am concerned that the California Bar asks for certain elements to be present in the LL.M.:

"a minimum of one course in four separate subjects tested on the California Bar Examination of not less than a total of twelve (12) semester or equivalent units. One of the four courses must be Professional Responsibility that covers the California Rules of Professional Conduct, relevant sections of the California Business and Professions Code, the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct, and leading federal and state case law on the subject"

I am not aware if any online LL.M. fulfills these requirements, as they mostly seem focused on very exact topics (e.g. tax law). Does anyone here know of any such online LL.M. (e.g. in American Legal Studies), if one indeed exists? I would preferrably not give up my present employment, and thus cannot attend an LL.M. at campus at the moment.

Thank you.

Selene.
quote
Yme
"I am not a licensed attorney in my home country since rules work differently there". If you have a five year law degree in your home country, wouldn't it be cheaper for you to get licenced in your home country and then cross qualify? Where did you study?
"I am not a licensed attorney in my home country since rules work differently there". If you have a five year law degree in your home country, wouldn't it be cheaper for you to get licenced in your home country and then cross qualify? Where did you study?
quote
selene777
Hello,

I studied in Sweden. The reason I say I am not "licensed" is that they do not require licensing in Sweden to work as a lawyer, and membership in the bar equivalent association is completely optional (it isn't "licensing" per se).

Additionally, they require you to work as a lawyer five years BEFORE you can join the Swedish "bar association" equivalent (advokatsamfundet). I am rather young, and also spent the last five years in Sweden getting my PhD in law, which does not qualify as practical work in the eyes of the "bar association" in Sweden. Thus ironically, even if I have a total of 11 years of full-time studies and three law degrees (LL.B., LL.M. and LL.D./J.S.D - all from Stockholm University), I am not qualified to join this association.

I am not in the U.S. not for work reasons but due to being married to an American. Thus, I would need to go back to Sweden by myself for five years and work as a lawyer in a law firm there, then qualify and move back - obviously it is not the most practical solution.

Any ideas out here about a suitable LL.M., or is the only solution to enroll in a physical LL.M.?

Selene.
Hello,

I studied in Sweden. The reason I say I am not "licensed" is that they do not require licensing in Sweden to work as a lawyer, and membership in the bar equivalent association is completely optional (it isn't "licensing" per se).

Additionally, they require you to work as a lawyer five years BEFORE you can join the Swedish "bar association" equivalent (advokatsamfundet). I am rather young, and also spent the last five years in Sweden getting my PhD in law, which does not qualify as practical work in the eyes of the "bar association" in Sweden. Thus ironically, even if I have a total of 11 years of full-time studies and three law degrees (LL.B., LL.M. and LL.D./J.S.D - all from Stockholm University), I am not qualified to join this association.

I am not in the U.S. not for work reasons but due to being married to an American. Thus, I would need to go back to Sweden by myself for five years and work as a lawyer in a law firm there, then qualify and move back - obviously it is not the most practical solution.

Any ideas out here about a suitable LL.M., or is the only solution to enroll in a physical LL.M.?

Selene.
quote
SteveB
You should just call the state bar directly and not rely on hearsay from us. They are the ones who determine which programs qualify and which programs do not.

See:
http://calbar.ca.gov/calbar/pdfs/admissions/Outside-Ed-Bulletin.pdf
or
http://www.calbar.org

If they accept on-line programs, please let us know!
You should just call the state bar directly and not rely on hearsay from us. They are the ones who determine which programs qualify and which programs do not.

See:
http://calbar.ca.gov/calbar/pdfs/admissions/Outside-Ed-Bulletin.pdf
or
http://www.calbar.org

If they accept on-line programs, please let us know!
quote
selene777
Thanks Steve. Yes, I have tried to ask them this question numerous times, but they have acted quite evasive about it and I have never gotten a clear response (one person refused to answer any questions, since they "have a website", unfortunately the website does not clarify this issue).

I am still trying to get a clear response from them, but if - meanwhile - someone here has experience with this situation I would also be very interested in hearing their story.

Additionally, even though I have received information at one point that they could accept an online LL.M. "if it fulfills the other requirements", they are still not providing information as to whether any LL.M. indeed satisifes the specific requirements I quoted above.

Thus, I guess to make my question more clear, what I am actually asking people here is not strictly if California would accept an online LL.M., but rather if you know of any online LL.M. program which includes...

""a minimum of one course in four separate subjects tested on the California Bar Examination of not less than a total of twelve (12) semester or equivalent units. One of the four courses must be Professional Responsibility that covers the California Rules of Professional Conduct, relevant sections of the California Business and Professions Code, the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct, and leading federal and state case law on the subject"

Someone suggested Jeffersson but later I learned that only their program in American Legal Studies fulfills the requirements above, and that one can only be taken on campus. They have an LL.M. in taxation law which can be taken online but, according to their own office, this does not conform to the California bar requirements.

Also, I do not quite understand the requirement that the LL.M. focuses on the California rules of conduct etc. Does this mean that only an LL.M. with focus on California would qualify? Or can this element somehow be fulfilled by taking the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination?

Sel.
Thanks Steve. Yes, I have tried to ask them this question numerous times, but they have acted quite evasive about it and I have never gotten a clear response (one person refused to answer any questions, since they "have a website", unfortunately the website does not clarify this issue).

I am still trying to get a clear response from them, but if - meanwhile - someone here has experience with this situation I would also be very interested in hearing their story.

Additionally, even though I have received information at one point that they could accept an online LL.M. "if it fulfills the other requirements", they are still not providing information as to whether any LL.M. indeed satisifes the specific requirements I quoted above.

Thus, I guess to make my question more clear, what I am actually asking people here is not strictly if California would accept an online LL.M., but rather if you know of any online LL.M. program which includes...

""a minimum of one course in four separate subjects tested on the California Bar Examination of not less than a total of twelve (12) semester or equivalent units. One of the four courses must be Professional Responsibility that covers the California Rules of Professional Conduct, relevant sections of the California Business and Professions Code, the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct, and leading federal and state case law on the subject"

Someone suggested Jeffersson but later I learned that only their program in American Legal Studies fulfills the requirements above, and that one can only be taken on campus. They have an LL.M. in taxation law which can be taken online but, according to their own office, this does not conform to the California bar requirements.

Also, I do not quite understand the requirement that the LL.M. focuses on the California rules of conduct etc. Does this mean that only an LL.M. with focus on California would qualify? Or can this element somehow be fulfilled by taking the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination?

Sel.
quote
Dear Selene777,

The problem here is that no classes offered online are approved by ABA. That answers the question whether any online program will be satisfactory for CA Bar. I called the CA bar a couple of days ago and they were evasive of course, but they pretty much confirmed that there is no online degree that they know of that would satisfy CA bar requirements.
What I am finding out now is in order to take classes that would include "California Rules of Professional Conduct, relevant sections of the California Business and Professions Code, the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct, and leading federal and state case law on the subject", you have to be attending a CA law school. I am in the same difficult situation now and my research does not bring any better results than what I have already stated above.

Good luck!
Dear Selene777,

The problem here is that no classes offered online are approved by ABA. That answers the question whether any online program will be satisfactory for CA Bar. I called the CA bar a couple of days ago and they were evasive of course, but they pretty much confirmed that there is no online degree that they know of that would satisfy CA bar requirements.
What I am finding out now is in order to take classes that would include "California Rules of Professional Conduct, relevant sections of the California Business and Professions Code, the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct, and leading federal and state case law on the subject", you have to be attending a CA law school. I am in the same difficult situation now and my research does not bring any better results than what I have already stated above.

Good luck!


quote
You might try to get admitted to the Spanish bar. As far as I know, it is rather simple to get admitted to the Spanish bar. Once you are admitted somewhere you can do the California bar exam (please correct me if I'm wrong). You could also return to Sweden and work as a "European attorney". Alternatively, you could claim to get admitted to the Swedish bar - see the Morgenbesser judgment of the ECJ (C-313/ 01).
You might try to get admitted to the Spanish bar. As far as I know, it is rather simple to get admitted to the Spanish bar. Once you are admitted somewhere you can do the California bar exam (please correct me if I'm wrong). You could also return to Sweden and work as a "European attorney". Alternatively, you could claim to get admitted to the Swedish bar - see the Morgenbesser judgment of the ECJ (C-313/ 01).
quote
v1978b
Hi,
I am also going through same process like you. I am also a foreign Lawyer who has practice Law for several years. After marriage I have shifted to USA, as I husband works here. After during research and talking to various friends, I have come to the conclusion that if I have practice in USA as an attorney, I will have do LLM from some ABA accredited Law school and then pass the Bar exam. I think u can also think of applying in some good law school for LLM , which takes hardly 9 months, and then sit for Bar exam.
Hi,
I am also going through same process like you. I am also a foreign Lawyer who has “practice Law” for several years. After marriage I have shifted to USA, as I husband works here. After during research and talking to various friends, I have come to the conclusion that if I have practice in USA as an attorney, I will have do LLM from some ABA accredited Law school and then pass the Bar exam. I think u can also think of applying in some good law school for LLM , which takes hardly 9 months, and then sit for Bar exam.
quote
Hello,
I have researched this subject and found a fairly clear answer on the website of the California bar. What they tell you in substance is : you need 2 years of (college level) pre-law studies (any subject) + 4 years of law studies. NB : you law studies HAVE to be common law (ie LLB) NOT civil law. Civil law can only count towards the 2 years pre-law requirement. So if you have an LLB (whether online or not, unlike NY) ie 3 years + an LLM at a local ABA approved law school (for california rules of procedure) then you can ASK for permission to take the CalBar.
Now the simplest way remains definetely to get a license in your own country and to apply as an attorney candidate.
This is my understanding but I think it is pretty accurate ;-)
Also to reply to Hanna's post, Spain is "easy" in that they (so far) don't have a bar exam. But you must still take an equivalency exam in Spanish law, which may not be that easy unless you are a native speaker.
To be comprehensive I should add that you CAN study online for a JD in California (to my knowledge this is the only state that allows such a thing). THis gives you access to a) a first "baby bar" exam at the end of the first year and, if you pass, the "real" bar after 4 years (minimum).
Hope this helps.
Hello,
I have researched this subject and found a fairly clear answer on the website of the California bar. What they tell you in substance is : you need 2 years of (college level) pre-law studies (any subject) + 4 years of law studies. NB : you law studies HAVE to be common law (ie LLB) NOT civil law. Civil law can only count towards the 2 years pre-law requirement. So if you have an LLB (whether online or not, unlike NY) ie 3 years + an LLM at a local ABA approved law school (for california rules of procedure) then you can ASK for permission to take the CalBar.
Now the simplest way remains definetely to get a license in your own country and to apply as an attorney candidate.
This is my understanding but I think it is pretty accurate ;-)
Also to reply to Hanna's post, Spain is "easy" in that they (so far) don't have a bar exam. But you must still take an equivalency exam in Spanish law, which may not be that easy unless you are a native speaker.
To be comprehensive I should add that you CAN study online for a JD in California (to my knowledge this is the only state that allows such a thing). THis gives you access to a) a first "baby bar" exam at the end of the first year and, if you pass, the "real" bar after 4 years (minimum).
Hope this helps.
quote
Hello,

I studied in Sweden. The reason I say I am not "licensed" is that they do not require licensing in Sweden to work as a lawyer, and membership in the bar equivalent association is completely optional (it isn't "licensing" per se).

Additionally, they require you to work as a lawyer five years BEFORE you can join the Swedish "bar association" equivalent (advokatsamfundet). I am rather young, and also spent the last five years in Sweden getting my PhD in law, which does not qualify as practical work in the eyes of the "bar association" in Sweden. Thus ironically, even if I have a total of 11 years of full-time studies and three law degrees (LL.B., LL.M. and LL.D./J.S.D - all from Stockholm University), I am not qualified to join this association.

I am not in the U.S. not for work reasons but due to being married to an American. Thus, I would need to go back to Sweden by myself for five years and work as a lawyer in a law firm there, then qualify and move back - obviously it is not the most practical solution.

Any ideas out here about a suitable LL.M., or is the only solution to enroll in a physical LL.M.?

Selene.


Selene,

I think I have good news for you. I just cleared my status with the CA bar, they registered me as a foreign attorney applicant based on the fact that I am a licensed attorney in a different country. This means that I do not need to take any additional classes or to do an LLM degree (although I already have an LLM from an ABA accredited law school). I can just sit for the CA bar.
Based on your post here, it looks like you can practice in Sweden, which makes things much easier for you here. To prove to CA bar that you are licensed in your own country, you should show a Certificate of Good Standing from your jurisdiction (that's precisely what CA bar says). Now in the country where I got my degree from the rules are like in Sweden, i.e. you don't have to be "barred" to be able to practice law, you can practice based on your diploma.
You might find this surprising but I successfully submitted my law school diploma with the relevant translation (saying that I am licensed as an attorney) to the CA bar. CA bar registered me as a foreign attorney applicant and told me that my status is clear and I can now take the exam.
My advice to you before you start going on to the taking-additional-classes path, is to submit your actual diploma with the relevant certified translation to the CA bar. You will have to pay a fee of $166 as a foreign attorney applicant. You have nothing to lose other than 1 month of your time, because that is how long you have to wait until the Bar gets back to you re your status. In case you do not satisfy their requirements, they will return the fee ($166) to you.
Let me know if you have questions. I will be happy to answer them.
<blockquote>Hello,

I studied in Sweden. The reason I say I am not "licensed" is that they do not require licensing in Sweden to work as a lawyer, and membership in the bar equivalent association is completely optional (it isn't "licensing" per se).

Additionally, they require you to work as a lawyer five years BEFORE you can join the Swedish "bar association" equivalent (advokatsamfundet). I am rather young, and also spent the last five years in Sweden getting my PhD in law, which does not qualify as practical work in the eyes of the "bar association" in Sweden. Thus ironically, even if I have a total of 11 years of full-time studies and three law degrees (LL.B., LL.M. and LL.D./J.S.D - all from Stockholm University), I am not qualified to join this association.

I am not in the U.S. not for work reasons but due to being married to an American. Thus, I would need to go back to Sweden by myself for five years and work as a lawyer in a law firm there, then qualify and move back - obviously it is not the most practical solution.

Any ideas out here about a suitable LL.M., or is the only solution to enroll in a physical LL.M.?

Selene. </blockquote>

Selene,

I think I have good news for you. I just cleared my status with the CA bar, they registered me as a foreign attorney applicant based on the fact that I am a licensed attorney in a different country. This means that I do not need to take any additional classes or to do an LLM degree (although I already have an LLM from an ABA accredited law school). I can just sit for the CA bar.
Based on your post here, it looks like you can practice in Sweden, which makes things much easier for you here. To prove to CA bar that you are licensed in your own country, you should show a Certificate of Good Standing from your jurisdiction (that's precisely what CA bar says). Now in the country where I got my degree from the rules are like in Sweden, i.e. you don't have to be "barred" to be able to practice law, you can practice based on your diploma.
You might find this surprising but I successfully submitted my law school diploma with the relevant translation (saying that I am licensed as an attorney) to the CA bar. CA bar registered me as a foreign attorney applicant and told me that my status is clear and I can now take the exam.
My advice to you before you start going on to the taking-additional-classes path, is to submit your actual diploma with the relevant certified translation to the CA bar. You will have to pay a fee of $166 as a foreign attorney applicant. You have nothing to lose other than 1 month of your time, because that is how long you have to wait until the Bar gets back to you re your status. In case you do not satisfy their requirements, they will return the fee ($166) to you.
Let me know if you have questions. I will be happy to answer them.
quote
If you are going to sit the Ca Bar check out http://www.barsecrets.com

developed by two lawyers who are neuroscientists, one very famous around the world for his work and studies on learning theory applied to test taking...
If you are going to sit the Ca Bar check out http://www.barsecrets.com

developed by two lawyers who are neuroscientists, one very famous around the world for his work and studies on learning theory applied to test taking...

quote
Erkan
If you are going to sit the Ca Bar check out barsecrets.com

developed by two lawyers who are neuroscientists, one very famous around the world for his work and studies on learning theory applied to test taking...


Just for the record: While this sounds like unbiased advice, please note that the people who run Bar Secrets are (adjunct) professors at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and thus colleagues of the person who posted above...
;-)
<blockquote>If you are going to sit the Ca Bar check out barsecrets.com

developed by two lawyers who are neuroscientists, one very famous around the world for his work and studies on learning theory applied to test taking...
</blockquote>

Just for the record: While this sounds like unbiased advice, please note that the people who run Bar Secrets are (adjunct) professors at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and thus colleagues of the person who posted above...
;-)
quote
mauricel
If you are going to sit the Ca Bar check out http://www.barsecrets.com

developed by two lawyers who are neuroscientists, one very famous around the world for his work and studies on learning theory applied to test taking...


Just for the records: While this sounds like unbiased advice, please note that the people who run Bar Secrets are (adjunct) professors at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and thus colleagues of the person who posted above...
;-)


How does it compare with Barbri?
<blockquote><blockquote>If you are going to sit the Ca Bar check out http://www.barsecrets.com

developed by two lawyers who are neuroscientists, one very famous around the world for his work and studies on learning theory applied to test taking...
</blockquote>

Just for the records: While this sounds like unbiased advice, please note that the people who run Bar Secrets are (adjunct) professors at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and thus colleagues of the person who posted above...
;-)</blockquote>

How does it compare with Barbri?

quote

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