Distance learning - US Bar Eligibility


Trini30

Greetings,

I have a law degree from the University of London obtained via distance education. I have reviewed the current requirements on the NY bar site but am still a bit confused.

1. Can a US LLM obtained by classroom instruction cure the distance learning deficiency in order to qualify to write the NY bar exam?

2. Would pursuing the California bar exam through completing a US LLM be a more viable option?

Thanks for any insights you may be able to provide.

[Edited by Trini30 on Nov 02, 2019]

Greetings,

I have a law degree from the University of London obtained via distance education. I have reviewed the current requirements on the NY bar site but am still a bit confused.

1. Can a US LLM obtained by classroom instruction cure the distance learning deficiency in order to qualify to write the NY bar exam?

2. Would pursuing the California bar exam through completing a US LLM be a more viable option?

Thanks for any insights you may be able to provide.
quote
#

1. Can a US LLM obtained by classroom instruction cure the distance learning deficiency in order to quality to write the NY bar exam?

Hello — I think so because the durational cure provision of §520.6(b)(1)(ii)(a) require “two years of foreign legal education that meets the substantive requirements” and an US LLM degree, but does not specify that those 2 years should be “earned by attendance in regularly scheduled classroom courses at the law school” like in §520.3(c)(1)(ii).

However, you should contact the board of law examiners (a.k.a. BOLE) in order to get a confirmation: https://www.nybarexam.org/Contact/Contact.htm


§520.6(b)(1): https://www.nybarexam.org/Rules/Rules.htm#520.6

(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.

[Edited by # on Nov 01, 2019]

[quote]1. Can a US LLM obtained by classroom instruction cure the distance learning deficiency in order to quality to write the NY bar exam?[/quote]
Hello — I think so because the durational cure provision of [b]§520.6(b)(1)(ii)(a)[/b] require [i]“two years of foreign legal education that meets the substantive requirements”[/i] and an US LLM degree, but does not specify that those 2 years should be [i]“earned by attendance in regularly scheduled classroom courses at the law school”[/i] like in [b]§520.3(c)(1)(ii)[/b].

However, you should contact the board of law examiners (a.k.a. BOLE) in order to get a confirmation: https://www.nybarexam.org/Contact/Contact.htm


[quote][b]§520.6(b)(1)[/b]: https://www.nybarexam.org/Rules/Rules.htm#520.6

(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), [u]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)[/u] 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.[/quote]
quote
Trini30

Thank you so very much for taking the time to provide this detailed clarification. The matter is now a lot clearer to me.

I will also seek to obtain confirmation from BOLE.

Thank you so very much for taking the time to provide this detailed clarification. The matter is now a lot clearer to me.

I will also seek to obtain confirmation from BOLE.
quote
jwpetterch...

An LLM might cure the in residence deficiency, but the NY BOLE would need to say so. Send in your documents and get a ruling. Getting an LLM would definitely let you take the bar in DC, CA, and a few other states as of right, and NY would probably let you.

I know and have worked with Nigerian lawyers in New York who have degrees from University of London External Program, but they studied in residence with actual brick and mortar colleges as well. None of them have LLMs.

An LLM might cure the in residence deficiency, but the NY BOLE would need to say so. Send in your documents and get a ruling. Getting an LLM would definitely let you take the bar in DC, CA, and a few other states as of right, and NY would probably let you.

I know and have worked with Nigerian lawyers in New York who have degrees from University of London External Program, but they studied in residence with actual brick and mortar colleges as well. None of them have LLMs.
quote
Trini30

Thanks a lot for providing this very helpful response. I am currently working on providing information requested by NY BOLE. Hoping the authorities in my country reply soon but failing that, I may just do the CA bar.

Thanks a lot for providing this very helpful response. I am currently working on providing information requested by NY BOLE. Hoping the authorities in my country reply soon but failing that, I may just do the CA bar.
quote
jwpetterch...

Are you doing an LLM already? If so, California is an extremely difficult bar exam. With an LLM, there are other states where you can take the bar even if NY says no. Washington state, DC, I think Georgia and North Carolina all have easier bar exams. Have you even decided if you want to live in California or somewhere else? There’s no reason to get a law license somewhere if you aren’t going to practice law there.

Are you doing an LLM already? If so, California is an extremely difficult bar exam. With an LLM, there are other states where you can take the bar even if NY says no. Washington state, DC, I think Georgia and North Carolina all have easier bar exams. Have you even decided if you want to live in California or somewhere else? There’s no reason to get a law license somewhere if you aren’t going to practice law there.
quote
Trini30

No I have been accepted to a few schools for fall 2020. I do not necessarily plan to practice in the US as my field is international law and but being qualified as a lawyer in at least one jurisdiction would be helpful for my career. I haven’t passed any other bar exam as yet. Wow ???? I did hear CA was difficult but not sure what other state only requires 12 credits in us law courses as I do not want my entire LLM to be focused on US law since I want to specialize in international law. I believe DC requires 26 credits, last I checked.

No I have been accepted to a few schools for fall 2020. I do not necessarily plan to practice in the US as my field is international law and but being qualified as a lawyer in at least one jurisdiction would be helpful for my career. I haven’t passed any other bar exam as yet. Wow ???? I did hear CA was difficult but not sure what other state only requires 12 credits in us law courses as I do not want my entire LLM to be focused on US law since I want to specialize in international law. I believe DC requires 26 credits, last I checked.
quote
jwpetterch...

Yes, DC has requirements for its LLM, but they’re all subjects covered on the bar exam anyway. You need a grounding in that stuff before bar prep and cramming all those black letter rules. I think Vermont and Washington state both have rules that allow you to take the bar exam with any ABA-approved LLM. Both of those states have the UBE, and Vermont I believe has the same passing score as DC, which is pretty low. But seriously, the CA bar exam is insanely difficult. I wouldn’t recommend taking it if you’re not going to spend a year intensely studying American black letter law. You need to take evidence, civ pro, family, etc, especially for CA because they have some very peculiar local rules like “community property” and democratic ballot initiatives. In all seriousness, if you’re just looking to collect a bar number from anywhere for arbitration/mediation, practicing federal law or for pure vanity, the do somewhere else than California. And keep in mind that after you’re admitted you need to do Continuing Legal Education classes as set by the state bar, sometimes these require you to be in person and some you can do online on demand through private providers. Either way, jurisdiction rules on those will matter of you are not local. No sense getting a bar number just to lose it later by going out of status.

Yes, DC has requirements for its LLM, but they’re all subjects covered on the bar exam anyway. You need a grounding in that stuff before bar prep and cramming all those black letter rules. I think Vermont and Washington state both have rules that allow you to take the bar exam with any ABA-approved LLM. Both of those states have the UBE, and Vermont I believe has the same passing score as DC, which is pretty low. But seriously, the CA bar exam is insanely difficult. I wouldn’t recommend taking it if you’re not going to spend a year intensely studying American black letter law. You need to take evidence, civ pro, family, etc, especially for CA because they have some very peculiar local rules like “community property” and democratic ballot initiatives. In all seriousness, if you’re just looking to collect a bar number from anywhere for arbitration/mediation, practicing federal law or for pure vanity, the do somewhere else than California. And keep in mind that after you’re admitted you need to do Continuing Legal Education classes as set by the state bar, sometimes these require you to be in person and some you can do online on demand through private providers. Either way, jurisdiction rules on those will matter of you are not local. No sense getting a bar number just to lose it later by going out of status.
quote
#

I think Georgia and North Carolina all have easier bar exams.

FYI — North Carolina is not anymore open to LLM applicants since 2005.

Please find below some information found on p.26-29 of this NCBE's document about bars eligibility to LL.M. applicants: http://www.ncbex.org/pdfviewer/?file=%2Fassets%2FBarAdmissionGuide%2FNCBE-CompGuide-2019.pdf#page=25

California: Applicant must have graduated and be eligible to take the admission exam in his/her foreign country and obtain an additional year of law study in certain courses at an ABA-approved or California-accredited law school in order to qualify to take the California Bar Exam.

Georgia: A lawyer educated at a law school outside of the United States may meet the educational requirements and be eligible to take the exam if the foreign-educated lawyer graduated from a foreign law school that meets the requirements of the Rules; is authorized to practice law in the foreign jurisdiction; and has been awarded, by an ABA-approved law school, an LL.M. that meets the Curricular Criteria for LL.M. Program for the Practice of Law in the United States adopted by the Board of Bar Examiners.

Kentucky: Applicant must still submit to education evaluation but additional degree has bearing on Board decision.

Maine: Applicant’s total education must be found to be substantially equivalent.

Massachusetts: Not automatically, but depends on content (course of study) as well as other facts.

New Hampshire: Not automatically. Applicant must meet other requirements for foreign law school graduates.

New York: In most cases, but there are other factors.

Tennessee: Applicant must prove that undergraduate and law school education are the equivalent of that required by an applicant who attended an ABA-accredited law school or Tennessee law school approved by the Board of Law Examiners. In addition to the LL.M., the applicant must be licensed in the country in which the applicant was educated and have been engaged in the active practice of law for 5 of the 8 years immediately preceding the application.

Texas: An applicant with an initial law degree from a foreign law school not based on English common law must, in part, be authorized to practice law and have a qualifying LL.M. degree. An applicant with an initial law degree from a foreign law school based on English common law must, in part, either have a qualifying LL.M. degree or satisfy a 3-year practice requirement.

Vermont: Graduates of foreign law schools that do not provide the equivalent of an education at an ABA-approved law school can cure that deficiency by obtaining an LL.M. degree at an ABA-approved law school, provided the LL.M. degree meets certain requirements pertaining to the amount and type of credit hours.

Washington: An LL.M. degree for the practice of law must meet certain requirements.

Wisconsin: Applicant must meet and show proof of the following requirements: (a) that the law school was approved in that foreign jurisdiction, (b) that the LL.M. program meets specific minimum requirements pertaining to total semester hours of credit, minutes of instruction, and duration of program, and (c) that the LL.M. program consists of a certain number of semester hours of specified courses. The LL.M. program must be located at an ABA-approved law school and be completed within 24 months of enrollment.

Additionally, another way to be admitted in Washington is to pass another US bar and then transfer your bar license to Washington.

To choose a bar you should ask yourself:
1. "Which US bar is the more relevant for my practice area?" and
2. "Which US bar is the more relevant with the country where I plan to practice?"

1. I am not an expert in international law, but I am pretty sure that Washington and maybe NY should be the more relevant bars in that field. But it will probably also depend on your sub-practice area in international law. Expl: If your sub-practice area is IP/IT conflicts in international law it could be more focus on California law, while if your sub-practice area is environmental law it could be more focus on Colorado law and Vermont law.

2. To my understanding, for countries of South America it's an asset to get a bar from NY, Washington, California and maybe also Florida (because Miami is an important business hub for Central and South America's countries).

[Edited by # on Dec 03, 2019]

[quote]I think Georgia and North Carolina all have easier bar exams.[/quote]
FYI — North Carolina is not anymore open to LLM applicants since 2005.

Please find below some information found on p.26-29 of this NCBE's document about bars eligibility to LL.M. applicants: http://www.ncbex.org/pdfviewer/?file=%2Fassets%2FBarAdmissionGuide%2FNCBE-CompGuide-2019.pdf#page=25

[quote][b]California[/b]: Applicant must have graduated and be eligible to take the admission exam in his/her foreign country and obtain an additional year of law study in certain courses at an ABA-approved or California-accredited law school in order to qualify to take the California Bar Exam.

[b]Georgia[/b]: A lawyer educated at a law school outside of the United States may meet the educational requirements and be eligible to take the exam if the foreign-educated lawyer graduated from a foreign law school that meets the requirements of the Rules; is authorized to practice law in the foreign jurisdiction; and has been awarded, by an ABA-approved law school, an LL.M. that meets the Curricular Criteria for LL.M. Program for the Practice of Law in the United States adopted by the Board of Bar Examiners.

[b]Kentucky[/b]: Applicant must still submit to education evaluation but additional degree has bearing on Board decision.

[b]Maine[/b]: Applicant’s total education must be found to be substantially equivalent.

[b]Massachusetts[/b]: Not automatically, but depends on content (course of study) as well as other facts.

[b]New Hampshire[/b]: Not automatically. Applicant must meet other requirements for foreign law school graduates.

[b]New York[/b]: In most cases, but there are other factors.

[b]Tennessee[/b]: Applicant must prove that undergraduate and law school education are the equivalent of that required by an applicant who attended an ABA-accredited law school or Tennessee law school approved by the Board of Law Examiners. In addition to the LL.M., the applicant must be licensed in the country in which the applicant was educated and have been engaged in the active practice of law for 5 of the 8 years immediately preceding the application.

[b]Texas[/b]: An applicant with an initial law degree from a foreign law school not based on English common law must, in part, be authorized to practice law and have a qualifying LL.M. degree. An applicant with an initial law degree from a foreign law school based on English common law must, in part, either have a qualifying LL.M. degree or satisfy a 3-year practice requirement.

[b]Vermont[/b]: Graduates of foreign law schools that do not provide the equivalent of an education at an ABA-approved law school can cure that deficiency by obtaining an LL.M. degree at an ABA-approved law school, provided the LL.M. degree meets certain requirements pertaining to the amount and type of credit hours.

[b]Washington[/b]: An LL.M. degree for the practice of law must meet certain requirements.

[b]Wisconsin[/b]: Applicant must meet and show proof of the following requirements: (a) that the law school was approved in that foreign jurisdiction, (b) that the LL.M. program meets specific minimum requirements pertaining to total semester hours of credit, minutes of instruction, and duration of program, and (c) that the LL.M. program consists of a certain number of semester hours of specified courses. The LL.M. program must be located at an ABA-approved law school and be completed within 24 months of enrollment.[/quote]
Additionally, another way to be admitted in Washington is to pass another US bar and then transfer your bar license to Washington.

To choose a bar you should ask yourself:
1. [u]"Which US bar is the more relevant for my practice area?"[/u] and
2. [u]"Which US bar is the more relevant with the country where I plan to practice?"[/u]

1. I am not an expert in international law, but I am pretty sure that Washington and maybe NY should be the more relevant bars in that field. But it will probably also depend on your sub-practice area in international law. Expl: If your sub-practice area is IP/IT conflicts in international law it could be more focus on California law, while if your sub-practice area is environmental law it could be more focus on Colorado law and Vermont law.

2. To my understanding, for countries of South America it's an asset to get a bar from NY, Washington, California and maybe also Florida (because Miami is an important business hub for Central and South America's countries).
quote
Trini30

Thanks for providing all this useful information, everyone.

From my reading of the above, I think NY bar may be most appropriate for me. I’ll just work harder on getting the authorities in my country to send the required information to the NY BOLE.

My limitation with taking the bar exam in many US jurisdictions is that I have not being admitted to the practice of law anywhere as yet so I am not a lawyer/attorney. NY and California allow me to sit the bar exam without this requirement. NY is particularly advantageous as I may only need to complete 12 credits in my LLM to be eligible. California also requires 12 credits but their exam seems really hard! DC would have been a good option if 26 credits wasn’t required, as 26 credits would not allow me to focus on international law, where my interest lies.

For international law, I plan to focus on law of the sea (UN Convention on law of the sea), international criminal law, international tribunals and courts, humanitarian law and international human rights law. I do not plan to stay in the US so none of these areas need to be studied in relation to US law. Therefore the location of my llm isn’t that important. All I really want is to be admitted to one jurisdiction so that I’ll be qualified as a lawyer.

Thanks for providing all this useful information, everyone.

From my reading of the above, I think NY bar may be most appropriate for me. I’ll just work harder on getting the authorities in my country to send the required information to the NY BOLE.

My limitation with taking the bar exam in many US jurisdictions is that I have not being admitted to the practice of law anywhere as yet so I am not a lawyer/attorney. NY and California allow me to sit the bar exam without this requirement. NY is particularly advantageous as I may only need to complete 12 credits in my LLM to be eligible. California also requires 12 credits but their exam seems really hard! DC would have been a good option if 26 credits wasn’t required, as 26 credits would not allow me to focus on international law, where my interest lies.

For international law, I plan to focus on law of the sea (UN Convention on law of the sea), international criminal law, international tribunals and courts, humanitarian law and international human rights law. I do not plan to stay in the US so none of these areas need to be studied in relation to US law. Therefore the location of my llm isn’t that important. All I really want is to be admitted to one jurisdiction so that I’ll be qualified as a lawyer.
quote
#

About the California bar keep also in mind an additional requirement: One of the courses must be Professional Responsibility that covers the California Rules of Professional Conduct, relevant sections of the California Business and Professions Code (and also the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct, and leading federal and state case law on the subject).

Therefore, it should be easier to satisfy this requirement within a Californian law school, while it could maybe be possible to do that online => If you do a quick search on this forum, you should be able to find some discussions about that (i.e. https://llm-guide.com/board/bar-exam/foreign-lawyer-online-ll-m-california-bar-133287)

[Edited by # on Dec 12, 2019]

About the [b]California bar[/b] keep also in mind an additional requirement: One of the courses must be Professional Responsibility that covers the [u]California Rules of Professional Conduct, relevant sections of the California Business and Professions Code[/u] (and also the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct, and leading federal and state case law on the subject).

Therefore, it should be easier to satisfy this requirement within a Californian law school, while it could [u]maybe[/u] be possible to do that online => If you do a quick search on this forum, you should be able to find some discussions about that (i.e. https://llm-guide.com/board/bar-exam/foreign-lawyer-online-ll-m-california-bar-133287)
quote
Trini30

Thanks for this bit of information.

I’ll most likely be doing my LLM in DC so if I can complete that additional course online, that would be ideal. I found one online course on professional responsibility at https://www.law.gmu.edu/admissions/online/california_professional_responsibility/ so am considering this if I take the California route.

I don’t think LLMs in DC would offer that course since it’s specific to California.

Thanks for this bit of information.

I’ll most likely be doing my LLM in DC so if I can complete that additional course online, that would be ideal. I found one online course on professional responsibility at https://www.law.gmu.edu/admissions/online/california_professional_responsibility/ so am considering this if I take the California route.

I don’t think LLMs in DC would offer that course since it’s specific to California.
quote
mugz

Not to hijack the thread, but I'd be in a similar boat. Planning to do the UofL LLB (online), a QLD in the UK. As I understand it, I cannot take the NY bar with this, as it is online.

Am I correct in that, at present, should I get a LL.M in the US after the online LLB, that I can take at least the CA bar? And, can said LL.M be solely online? (This would, in effect mean the entire path to the Bar would be online)

Interested in only doing federal law, so the specifics of the bar location is not applicable.

[Edited by mugz on Jan 04, 2020]

Not to hijack the thread, but I'd be in a similar boat. Planning to do the UofL LLB (online), a QLD in the UK. As I understand it, I cannot take the NY bar with this, as it is online.

Am I correct in that, at present, should I get a LL.M in the US after the online LLB, that I can take at least the CA bar? And, can said LL.M be solely online? (This would, in effect mean the entire path to the Bar would be online)

Interested in only doing federal law, so the specifics of the bar location is not applicable.
quote
donrocks

I am qualified in England & Wales and California.

I am also looking at doing a LLM in the US and admission to the DC bar (although I can qualify automatically after 5 years) and for both of the above posters, you may want to keep an eye on "rule 46" changes at the DC bar.

The DC bar proposed an amendment to allow non ABA law school graduates to complete a LLM online. The DC Court of Appeals requested further comments on permiting only 8 credit hours online. They will soon make a decision and it might permit an online LLM to count (or they might not).

Separately, for what it's worth I know California will accept an online LLM.

[Edited by donrocks on Jan 05, 2020]

I am qualified in England & Wales and California.

I am also looking at doing a LLM in the US and admission to the DC bar (although I can qualify automatically after 5 years) and for both of the above posters, you may want to keep an eye on "rule 46" changes at the DC bar.

The DC bar proposed an amendment to allow non ABA law school graduates to complete a LLM online. The DC Court of Appeals requested further comments on permiting only 8 credit hours online. They will soon make a decision and it might permit an online LLM to count (or they might not).

Separately, for what it's worth I know California will accept an online LLM.
quote
jwpetterch...

Not to hijack the thread, but I'd be in a similar boat. Planning to do the UofL LLB (online), a QLD in the UK. As I understand it, I cannot take the NY bar with this, as it is online.

Am I correct in that, at present, should I get a LL.M in the US after the online LLB, that I can take at least the CA bar? And, can said LL.M be solely online? (This would, in effect mean the entire path to the Bar would be online)

Interested in only doing federal law, so the specifics of the bar location is not applicable.


It’s going to depend on the jurisdiction you apply to. They all have different rules about LLMs and qualifying overseas law degrees. I’m not sure about NY, you’d have to apply to the BOLE now, and then rely on them to provide you a cure provision. Vermont and Washington are supposed to be more lenient than others in regards to the LLM rule so an online LLM from an ABA law school might be approved by their regulators but it will depend on their decision when you apply. Or you can ask now. I don’t like the idea of spending that much money on a gamble. If you’re going to do an LLM to get a bar admission, I’d make sure you can do it first. Otherwise it’s a waste of time and money, something LLMs already have too much of a rap for being.

[quote]Not to hijack the thread, but I'd be in a similar boat. Planning to do the UofL LLB (online), a QLD in the UK. As I understand it, I cannot take the NY bar with this, as it is online.

Am I correct in that, at present, should I get a LL.M in the US after the online LLB, that I can take at least the CA bar? And, can said LL.M be solely online? (This would, in effect mean the entire path to the Bar would be online)

Interested in only doing federal law, so the specifics of the bar location is not applicable.[/quote]

It’s going to depend on the jurisdiction you apply to. They all have different rules about LLMs and qualifying overseas law degrees. I’m not sure about NY, you’d have to apply to the BOLE now, and then rely on them to provide you a cure provision. Vermont and Washington are supposed to be more lenient than others in regards to the LLM rule so an online LLM from an ABA law school might be approved by their regulators but it will depend on their decision when you apply. Or you can ask now. I don’t like the idea of spending that much money on a gamble. If you’re going to do an LLM to get a bar admission, I’d make sure you can do it first. Otherwise it’s a waste of time and money, something LLMs already have too much of a rap for being.
quote
biski

Hi, I am interested in follow-up to this thread, as I am also considering doing the UoL distance LLB, completing a US LLM and applying for a bar exam - NY. Any experience on whether this is possible?

Hi, I am interested in follow-up to this thread, as I am also considering doing the UoL distance LLB, completing a US LLM and applying for a bar exam - NY. Any experience on whether this is possible?
quote

Reply to Post

Other Related Content

Using the LL.M. to Take the American Bar Exam

Article Sep 19, 2016

Foreign-trained lawyers can use LL.M.s to gain bar eligibility in several US states, but should beware that eligibility requirements are continuously evolving.

Top 10 Online and Hybrid LL.M.s

Top List

There are a growing number of online LL.M. degrees now available for those who cannot afford to take a year or more out of work. Here are the top 10 Online and Hybrid LL.M. programs.

Hot Discussions