US BAR EXAM FOR FOREIGN ATTORNEYS- NY AND CA


JUSCOGENS
I am an 32 Italian attorney (member of the Italian BAR), who would like to obtain a title homologation in US to become more competitive in the international arena. is there somebody that as an foreign attorney passed the CA or NY bar exam. Which of these exams is easier to pass?

[Edited by JUSCOGENS on Dec 04, 2019]

I am an 32 Italian attorney (member of the Italian BAR), who would like to obtain a title homologation in US to become more competitive in the international arena. is there somebody that as an foreign attorney passed the CA or NY bar exam. Which of these exams is easier to pass?
quote
New York would be easier to pass, but unless you have a 3 year degree in common law you will need a masters degree from an accredited American law school to take the bar exam here. California is a notoriously difficult bar exam, and I am not sure if you can sit for it without an LLM since you are a civil law attorney. Perhaps a Californian lawyer can comment on that.
New York would be easier to pass, but unless you have a 3 year degree in common law you will need a masters degree from an accredited American law school to take the bar exam here. California is a notoriously difficult bar exam, and I am not sure if you can sit for it without an LLM since you are a civil law attorney. Perhaps a Californian lawyer can comment on that.
quote
JUSCOGENS
I have just seen that both in New York and in California foreign attorneys, so members of foreign bar associations, are eligible for the bar exam without any further requirement. In fact, for the California bar exam, if you have practiced for more than 3 or 4 years as an attorney in an another jurisdiction you may be eligible the take just the Attorney exam part and not all the others.
I have just seen that both in New York and in California foreign attorneys, so members of foreign bar associations, are eligible for the bar exam without any further requirement. In fact, for the California bar exam, if you have practiced for more than 3 or 4 years as an attorney in an another jurisdiction you may be eligible the take just the Attorney exam part and not all the others.
quote
Well, I’m not sure about California, but you cannot take the NY bar exam as a foreign lawyer unless your first law degree is in COMMON law. They are very specific about this- your studies cannot be in CIVIL law. If, as most Italian lawyers, you were educated in civil law, then you will need to do an LLM at a US university. We have a very different legal system.
Well, I’m not sure about California, but you cannot take the NY bar exam as a foreign lawyer unless your first law degree is in COMMON law. They are very specific about this- your studies cannot be in CIVIL law. If, as most Italian lawyers, you were educated in civil law, then you will need to do an LLM at a US university. We have a very different legal system.
quote
#
Hello, I agree with jwpetterchak.

ABOUT CALIFORNIA

It seems that if you are "already admitted to the active practice of law in a foreign country" you don't need to do an LL.M and you can directly sit the California Bar Exam.

These guidelines do not apply to attorneys who are already admitted to the active practice of law in a foreign country or in another U.S. jurisdiction and are in good standing. These attorneys are qualified to take the California Bar Examination without having to complete any additional legal education.

See The State Bar of California, Foreign Education, http://www.calbar.ca.gov/Admissions/Requirements/Education/Legal-Education/Foreign-Education

Rule 4.15 Certification to California Supreme Court
To be eligible for certification to the California Supreme Court for admission to the
practice of law, an applicant for admission must:
(A) be at least eighteen years of age;
(B) file an Application for Admission with the State Bar;
(C) meet the requirements of these rules regarding education or admission as an attorney in another jurisdiction, determination of moral character, and examinations;
(D) be in compliance with California court-ordered child or family support obligations pursuant to Family Code § 17520;
(E) be in compliance with tax obligations pursuant to Business and Professions Code section 494.5;
(F) until admitted to the practice of law, notify the State Bar within thirty days of any change in information provided on an application; and
(G) otherwise meet statutory criteria for certification to the Supreme Court.

See Rules of the State Bar, Title 4, Division 1. Admission to Practice Law in California, Rule 4.15 Certification to California Supreme Court, http://www.calbar.ca.gov/Portals/0/documents/rules/Rules_Title4_Div1-Adm-Prac-Law.pdf

ABOUT NEW YORK

In order to have a better hindsight of the New York Bar Exam ("NYBE") requirements you should read carefully:
- The NY's Bar Exam Eligibility (https://www.nybarexam.org/Eligible/Eligibility.htm);
- The Section 520 of the Rules of the Court of Appeals for the Admission of Attorneys and Counselors at Law (amended, effective April 1, 2012), and more specifically the § 520.6 Study of Law in Foreign Country; Required Legal Education (https://www.nybarexam.org/Rules/Rules.htm#520.6).

As explained by jwpetterchak, if you have not completed at least 3 full year of legal studies based on "the principle of English Common law" (See §520.6(b)(1)(i)(b) Substantive requirements) you are not directly eligible to sit the NYBE and you must "cure" that by doing an LL.M. "at an American Bar Association approved law school in the United States" (See §520.6(b)(1)(ii)(b) Substantive deficiency).

There is some additional requirement about the LL.M., among them:
- It must be a program "completed at the campus of an American Bar Association approved law school in the United States" which means in-class course (i.e. not online; See §520.6(b)(3)(v) and §520.6(b)(3)(viii));
- The applicant must complete the LL.M. within 2 years with at least 24 credits which among them 12 credits must comply with the requirements of §520.6(b)(3)(vi); etc.

Keep also in mind few other points:
- There is different pathways to be admitted at NY, we explain here only the "Admission on Exam", but it exists also the "Admission on Motion" which allows attorney from another US State bar license with some experience (usually 5 years) to apply for admission.
- The NYBE is not the only exam, you will need also to pass 2 others — easier — exams which are the MPRE (https://www.nybarexam.org/MPRE/MPRE.html) and the NYLC/NYLE (https://www.nybarexam.org/Content/CourseMaterials.htm).

See below some bolded provisions about the NYBE which should be relevant to you.

§ 520.6 Study of Law in Foreign Country; Required Legal Education

(a) General. An applicant who has studied in a foreign country may qualify to take the New York State bar examination by submitting to the New York State Board of Law Examiners satisfactory proof of the legal education required by this section.

(b) Legal education. The applicant must satisfy the educational requirements of either paragraph (1) or (2) of this subdivision.

(1) The applicant shall show fulfillment of the educational requirements for admission to the practice of law in a country other than the United States by successful completion of a period of law study in a law school or schools each of which, throughout the period of the applicant's study therein, was approved by the government or an authorized accrediting body in such country, or of a political subdivision thereof, to award a first degree in law, and satisfaction of the following requirements:

(i)(a) Durational requirements. The program and course of law study successfully completed by the applicant was substantially equivalent in duration to the legal education provided by an American Bar Association approved law school in the United States, and in substantial compliance with the instructional and academic calendar requirements of section 520.3(c)(1)(i) and (ii) and (d)(1) of this Part; and

(b) Substantive requirements. Such other country is one whose jurisprudence is based upon the principles of English Common Law, and that the program and course of law study successfully completed by the applicant were the substantial equivalent of the legal education provided by an American Bar Association approved law school in the United States.

(ii) Cure provision. An applicant who does not meet the requirements of subparagraph (i)(a) or (i)(b) may cure either the durational or substantive deficiency, but not both, under the following circumstances:

(a) Durational deficiency. If the applicant does not meet the durational requirements of subparagraph (i)(a), the applicant may cure the deficiency by providing satisfactory proof that the applicant has at least two years of foreign legal education that meets the substantive requirements of subparagraph (i)(b) and that the applicant has graduated from an LL.M. degree program at an American Bar Association approved law school in the United States meeting the requirements of subdivision (b)(3) of this section.

(b) Substantive deficiency. If the applicant does not meet the substantive requirements of subparagraph (i)(b), the applicant may cure the deficiency by providing satisfactory proof that the applicant meets the durational requirements of subparagraph (i)(a) and that the applicant has graduated from an LL.M. degree program at an American Bar Association approved law school in the United States meeting the requirements of subdivision (b)(3) of this section.

(2) The applicant shall show admission to practice law in a country other than the United States whose jurisprudence is based upon principles of English Common Law, where admission was based upon a program of study in a law school and/or law office approved by the government or an authorized accrediting body in such country, or of a political subdivision thereof, and which satisfies the durational requirements of subparagraph (1)(i)(a) but does not satisfy the substantive requirements of subparagraph (1)(i)(b) of this subdivision, and that such applicant has successfully completed an LL.M. degree program at an American Bar Association approved law school in the United States meeting the requirements of subdivision (b)(3) of this section.

(3) An LL.M. degree shall be satisfactory to qualify an applicant otherwise meeting the requirements of subsections (b)(1)(ii) or (b)(2) to take the New York State bar examination provided the following requirements are met:

(i) the program shall consist of a minimum of 24 credit hours (or the equivalent thereof, if the law school is on an academic schedule other than a conventional semester system) which, except as otherwise permitted herein, shall be in classroom courses at the law school in substantive and procedural law and professional skills;

(ii) a minimum of 700 minutes of instruction time, exclusive of examination time, must be required for the granting of one credit hour;

(iii) the program shall include a period of instruction consisting of no fewer than two semesters of at least 13 calendar weeks each, or the equivalent thereof, exclusive of reading periods, examinations and breaks, and shall not be completed exclusively during summer semesters, but a maximum of four credit hours may be earned in courses completed during summer semesters;

(iv) the program shall be completed within 24 months of matriculation;

(v) all coursework for the program shall be completed at the campus of an American Bar Association approved law school in the United States, except as otherwise expressly permitted by subdivision (b)(3)(vii);

(vi) the program completed by the applicant shall include:

(a) a minimum of two credit hours in a course or courses in professional responsibility;

(b) a minimum of two credit hours in legal research, writing and analysis, which may not be satisfied by a research and writing requirement in a substantive law course;

(c) a minimum of two credit hours in American legal studies, the American legal system or a similar course designed to introduce students to distinctive aspects and/or fundamental principles of United States law, which may be satisfied by a course in United States constitutional law or United States or state civil procedure; credit earned in such course in excess of the required two credit hours may be applied in satisfaction of the requirement of subdivision (b)(3)(vi)(d); and

(d) a minimum of six credit hours in other courses that principally focus on subject matter tested on the New York State bar examination or the New York Law Examination prescribed in section 520.9(a)(3) of this Part.

(vii) The program completed by the applicant may include: (a) credit hours in clinical courses, field placements, externships and other experiential learning courses, and (b) a maximum of six credit hours in other courses related to legal training taught by members of the faculty of the law school or of the university with which the law school is affiliated, or taught by members of the faculty of any university or college with which the law school offers a joint degree program, provided such courses must be completed at the campus of such university or college in the United States.

(viii) No credit shall be allowed for correspondence courses, on-line courses, courses offered on DVD or other media, or other distance learning courses.

(c) Proof required. The applicant shall submit to the State Board of Law Examiners such proof of compliance with the provisions of this section as the Board may require.

(d) Effective date for implementation. Except for the requirements of subdivisions (b)(3)(iii), (v) and (viii), which are effective May 18, 2011, the provisions of Rule 520.6(b)(3) shall first apply to LL.M. programs commencing during the 2012-13 academic year and to applicants applying to take the July 2013 bar examination, subject to the saving clause of Rule 520.1(b).

See § 520.6 Study of Law in Foreign Country; Required Legal Education, https://www.nybarexam.org/Rules/Rules.htm#520.6.

[Edited by # on Dec 06, 2019]

Hello, I agree with jwpetterchak.

[u][b]ABOUT CALIFORNIA[/b][/u]

It seems that if you are "already admitted to the active practice of law in a foreign country" you don't need to do an LL.M and you can directly sit the California Bar Exam.

[quote]These guidelines do not apply to attorneys who are already admitted to the active practice of law in a foreign country or in another U.S. jurisdiction and are in good standing. [b]These attorneys are qualified to take the California Bar Examination without having to complete any additional legal education.[/b]

See [u]The State Bar of California, Foreign Education[/u], http://www.calbar.ca.gov/Admissions/Requirements/Education/Legal-Education/Foreign-Education [/quote]
[quote][b]Rule 4.15 Certification to California Supreme Court[/b]
To be eligible for certification to the California Supreme Court for admission to the
practice of law, an applicant for admission must:
(A) be at least eighteen years of age;
(B) file an Application for Admission with the State Bar;
(C) [b]meet the requirements of these rules regarding[/b] education or [b]admission as an attorney in another jurisdiction[/b], determination of moral character, and examinations;
(D) be in compliance with California court-ordered child or family support obligations pursuant to Family Code § 17520;
(E) be in compliance with tax obligations pursuant to Business and Professions Code section 494.5;
(F) until admitted to the practice of law, notify the State Bar within thirty days of any change in information provided on an application; and
(G) otherwise meet statutory criteria for certification to the Supreme Court.

See [u]Rules of the State Bar, Title 4, Division 1. Admission to Practice Law in California, Rule 4.15 Certification to California Supreme Court[/u], http://www.calbar.ca.gov/Portals/0/documents/rules/Rules_Title4_Div1-Adm-Prac-Law.pdf [/quote]
[u][b]ABOUT NEW YORK[/b][/u]

In order to have a better hindsight of the New York Bar Exam ("NYBE") requirements you should read carefully:
- The NY's [b]Bar Exam Eligibility[/b] (https://www.nybarexam.org/Eligible/Eligibility.htm);
- The Section 520 of the Rules of the Court of Appeals for the Admission of Attorneys and Counselors at Law (amended, effective April 1, 2012), and more specifically the [b]§ 520.6 Study of Law in Foreign Country; Required Legal Education[/b] (https://www.nybarexam.org/Rules/Rules.htm#520.6).

As explained by jwpetterchak, if you have not completed at least 3 full year of legal studies based on "the principle of English Common law" (See [u]§520.6(b)(1)(i)(b) Substantive requirements[/u]) you are not directly eligible to sit the NYBE and you must "cure" that by doing an LL.M. "at an American Bar Association approved law school in the United States" (See [u]§520.6(b)(1)(ii)(b) Substantive deficiency[/u]).

There is some additional requirement about the LL.M., among them:
- It must be a program "completed at the campus of an American Bar Association approved law school in the United States" which means in-class course ([i]i.e.[/i] not online; See [u]§520.6(b)(3)(v)[/u] and [u]§520.6(b)(3)(viii)[/u]);
- The applicant must complete the LL.M. within 2 years with at least 24 credits which among them 12 credits must comply with the requirements of [u]§520.6(b)(3)(vi)[/u]; etc.

Keep also in mind few other points:
- There is different pathways to be admitted at NY, we explain here only the [b]"Admission on Exam"[/b], but it exists also the [b]"Admission on Motion"[/b] which allows attorney from another US State bar license with some experience (usually 5 years) to apply for admission.
- The NYBE is not the only exam, you will need also to pass 2 others — easier — exams which are the [b]MPRE[/b] (https://www.nybarexam.org/MPRE/MPRE.html) and the [b]NYLC/NYLE[/b] (https://www.nybarexam.org/Content/CourseMaterials.htm).

See below some bolded provisions about the NYBE which should be relevant to you.

[quote][b][u]§ 520.6 Study of Law in Foreign Country; Required Legal Education[/u][/b]

(a) General. An applicant who has studied in a foreign country may qualify to take the New York State bar examination by submitting to the New York State Board of Law Examiners satisfactory proof of the legal education required by this section.

(b) Legal education. The applicant must satisfy the educational requirements of either paragraph (1) or (2) of this subdivision.

(1) The applicant shall show fulfillment of the educational requirements for admission to the practice of law in a country other than the United States by successful completion of a period of law study in a law school or schools each of which, throughout the period of the applicant's study therein, was approved by the government or an authorized accrediting body in such country, or of a political subdivision thereof, to award a first degree in law, and satisfaction of the following requirements:

(i)(a) Durational requirements. The program and course of law study successfully completed by the applicant was substantially equivalent in duration to the legal education provided by an American Bar Association approved law school in the United States, and in substantial compliance with the instructional and academic calendar requirements of section 520.3(c)(1)(i) and (ii) and (d)(1) of this Part; and

[b](b) Substantive requirements. Such other country is one whose jurisprudence is based upon the principles of English Common Law[/b], and that the program and course of law study successfully completed by the applicant were the substantial equivalent of the legal education provided by an American Bar Association approved law school in the United States.

[b](ii) Cure provision. An applicant who does not meet the requirements of subparagraph (i)(a) or (i)(b) may cure[/b] either [b]the[/b] durational or [b]substantive deficiency[/b], but not both, under the following circumstances:

(a) Durational deficiency. If the applicant does not meet the durational requirements of subparagraph (i)(a), the applicant may cure the deficiency by providing satisfactory proof that the applicant has at least two years of foreign legal education that meets the substantive requirements of subparagraph (i)(b) and that the applicant has graduated from an LL.M. degree program at an American Bar Association approved law school in the United States meeting the requirements of subdivision (b)(3) of this section.

[b](b) Substantive deficiency. If the applicant does not meet the substantive requirements of subparagraph (i)(b), the applicant may cure the deficiency by providing satisfactory proof that the applicant meets the durational requirements of subparagraph (i)(a) and that the applicant has graduated from an LL.M. degree program at an American Bar Association approved law school in the United States meeting the requirements of subdivision (b)(3) of this section.[/b]

(2) The applicant shall show admission to practice law in a country other than the United States whose jurisprudence is based upon principles of English Common Law, where admission was based upon a program of study in a law school and/or law office approved by the government or an authorized accrediting body in such country, or of a political subdivision thereof, and which satisfies the durational requirements of subparagraph (1)(i)(a) but does not satisfy the substantive requirements of subparagraph (1)(i)(b) of this subdivision, and that such applicant has successfully completed an LL.M. degree program at an American Bar Association approved law school in the United States meeting the requirements of subdivision (b)(3) of this section.

[b](3) An LL.M. degree shall be satisfactory to qualify an applicant otherwise meeting the requirements of subsections (b)(1)(ii) or (b)(2) to take the New York State bar examination provided the following requirements are met:[/b]

(i) [b]the program shall consist of a minimum of 24 credit hours[/b] (or the equivalent thereof, if the law school is on an academic schedule other than a conventional semester system) which, except as otherwise permitted herein, shall be in classroom courses at the law school in substantive and procedural law and professional skills;

(ii) a minimum of 700 minutes of instruction time, exclusive of examination time, must be required for the granting of one credit hour;

(iii) the program shall include a period of instruction consisting of no fewer than two semesters of at least 13 calendar weeks each, or the equivalent thereof, exclusive of reading periods, examinations and breaks, and shall not be completed exclusively during summer semesters, but a maximum of four credit hours may be earned in courses completed during summer semesters;

(iv) the program shall be completed [b]within 24 months[/b] of matriculation;

(v) all coursework for [b]the program shall be completed at the campus of an American Bar Association approved law school in the United States[/b], except as otherwise expressly permitted by subdivision (b)(3)(vii);

(vi) [b]the program completed by the applicant shall include[/b]:

(a) a minimum of [b]two credit hours in a course or courses in professional responsibility[/b];

(b) a minimum of [b]two credit hours in legal research, writing and analysis[/b], which may not be satisfied by a research and writing requirement in a substantive law course;

(c) a minimum of [b]two credit hours in American legal studies[/b], the American legal system or a similar course designed to introduce students to distinctive aspects and/or fundamental principles of United States law, which may be satisfied by a course in United States constitutional law or United States or state civil procedure; credit earned in such course in excess of the required two credit hours may be applied in satisfaction of the requirement of subdivision (b)(3)(vi)(d); and

(d) a minimum of [b]six credit hours in other courses that principally focus on subject matter tested on the New York State bar examination[/b] or the New York Law Examination prescribed in section 520.9(a)(3) of this Part.

(vii) The program completed by the applicant may include: (a) credit hours in clinical courses, field placements, externships and other experiential learning courses, and (b) a maximum of six credit hours in other courses related to legal training taught by members of the faculty of the law school or of the university with which the law school is affiliated, or taught by members of the faculty of any university or college with which the law school offers a joint degree program, provided such courses must be completed at the campus of such university or college in the United States.

[b](viii) No credit shall be allowed for correspondence courses, on-line courses, courses offered on DVD or other media, or other distance learning courses.[/b]

(c) Proof required. The applicant shall submit to the State Board of Law Examiners such proof of compliance with the provisions of this section as the Board may require.

(d) Effective date for implementation. Except for the requirements of subdivisions (b)(3)(iii), (v) and (viii), which are effective May 18, 2011, the provisions of Rule 520.6(b)(3) shall first apply to LL.M. programs commencing during the 2012-13 academic year and to applicants applying to take the July 2013 bar examination, subject to the saving clause of Rule 520.1(b).

See [u]§ 520.6 Study of Law in Foreign Country; Required Legal Education[/U], https://www.nybarexam.org/Rules/Rules.htm#520.6. [/quote]
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