LLM eligibility of US practice?


atlas
I understand that as a US-based LLM graduate one can sit for the New York or California state bar exam - and thus practice law in these two states. Correct me if I'm wrong.

I further understand that providing one is a US-based JD graduate and one takes the bar in for example New York state, then moves to another US state there is a good chance that one need not sit for that state's bar exam since the New York bar is sometimes sufficient. This being true, does anyone know how LLM graduates who sit for the New York state bar exam would be viewed if they moved and attempted to practice in another US state? Is one respected as merely passing the bar exam, or must one be a US JD graduate as well?

I'm trying to understand whether US LLM graduates remain in the US are restricted to jobs where they have a purely advisory or consultant-type role as opposed to practicing law.

Thanks all!
I understand that as a US-based LLM graduate one can sit for the New York or California state bar exam - and thus practice law in these two states. Correct me if I'm wrong.

I further understand that providing one is a US-based JD graduate and one takes the bar in for example New York state, then moves to another US state there is a good chance that one need not sit for that state's bar exam since the New York bar is sometimes sufficient. This being true, does anyone know how LLM graduates who sit for the New York state bar exam would be viewed if they moved and attempted to practice in another US state? Is one respected as merely passing the bar exam, or must one be a US JD graduate as well?

I'm trying to understand whether US LLM graduates remain in the US are restricted to jobs where they have a purely advisory or consultant-type role as opposed to practicing law.

Thanks all!
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richardvf
This is a very difficult question to answer because there are 50 states in the US and each state has its own regulations regarding the practice of law. Every state will allow you to take the bar exam if you have an accredited J.D. A few states, such as New York, will allow you to take the bar exam with only an LL.M. California will allow you to take the bar exam without any US legal education if you are an attorney in your home country.

As you know from your post, some states (but not all states) will allow licensed attorneys from another state to receive a law license without taking the bar exam if the state from which the attorney is licensed has reciprocity with the other state. New York is a good state for reciprocity because it allows attorneys from other states to get licensed without a bar examination. Texas is also a good state for reciprocity. California, Nevada and Florida are bad states for reciprocity because these states do not allow attorneys from other states to receive a license without taking the bar exam. You can be a 30 year attorney from New York and will have to take the bar exam for a California license.

Even states that have reciprocity have certain requirements before allowing an attorney from another state to be licensed without taking the bar exam. These requirements include practicing law for a certain period of time and possession of a JD degree.

As a general rule, I think your eligibility to receive a license in another state with only an LL.M, even if you are licensed in New York, will be limited, with or without taking a bar examination. Basically, if you intend to permanently live in the US and practice law, you should get a JD. If you are still only willing to get an LL.M, you need to check the admission requirements of each state where you might like to practice to determine if you are even eligible to receive a law license with only an LL.M.
This is a very difficult question to answer because there are 50 states in the US and each state has its own regulations regarding the practice of law. Every state will allow you to take the bar exam if you have an accredited J.D. A few states, such as New York, will allow you to take the bar exam with only an LL.M. California will allow you to take the bar exam without any US legal education if you are an attorney in your home country.

As you know from your post, some states (but not all states) will allow licensed attorneys from another state to receive a law license without taking the bar exam if the state from which the attorney is licensed has reciprocity with the other state. New York is a good state for reciprocity because it allows attorneys from other states to get licensed without a bar examination. Texas is also a good state for reciprocity. California, Nevada and Florida are bad states for reciprocity because these states do not allow attorneys from other states to receive a license without taking the bar exam. You can be a 30 year attorney from New York and will have to take the bar exam for a California license.

Even states that have reciprocity have certain requirements before allowing an attorney from another state to be licensed without taking the bar exam. These requirements include practicing law for a certain period of time and possession of a JD degree.

As a general rule, I think your eligibility to receive a license in another state with only an LL.M, even if you are licensed in New York, will be limited, with or without taking a bar examination. Basically, if you intend to permanently live in the US and practice law, you should get a JD. If you are still only willing to get an LL.M, you need to check the admission requirements of each state where you might like to practice to determine if you are even eligible to receive a law license with only an LL.M.
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atlas
Thank you very much Richard - you answered the bulk of my questions!

I also found information from NYU Law's site where they've stated:

"Bar Examinations

The Rules of the New York State Court of Appeals permit a person with an undergraduate law degree from most common law countries to take the bar examination in New York, depending on the length and nature of their legal education. Under the same section of the rules, students whose first law degree is from other countries and who have earned graduate law credits while studying law in the United States may qualify to take the bar examination. The precise language can be found in section 520.6 of the Court's Rules. This link will display all of the Courts rules on bar admission.

Many students may therefore sit for the New York bar examinations as of right. Students interested in their eligibility to sit for the New York bar examination on the basis of their first law degree are advised to contact the New York State Board of Bar Examiners. The Board does not publish a country specific list, however the following first law degrees from common law jurisdictions may be accepted: Australia, Canada (excluding Quebec), Ghana, Hong Kong, Ireland, Israel, Kenya, Liberia, New Zealand, Nigeria, the Philippines, Sierra Leone, Singapore, South Africa (after 1998), Tanzania, Uganda, and the United Kingdom. If in doubt, you should request an evaluation using the form available here.

Students who are graduates of a civil law school and whose graduate credits are earned by study outside the United States may petition for permission to take the New York bar examination based on their particular circumstances under Rule 520.14. However, our experience so far is that petitions are not likely to be successful unless a student has significant experience with U.S. law such as with a U.S. law firm or company prior to filing the petition.

Other students who wish to sit for an American bar exam should consider doing so in the state of California. California Bar authorities have told us that under that states rule any person who is admitted as a lawyer and in active status and good standing in a foreign jurisdiction may take its general bar examination. See this notice for more details.

The California rule is more complicated if you are not presently admitted in another jurisdiction. Then, permission to take the exam depends on the nature of your undergraduate legal education and your LL.M. course of study among other things. See especially Rule II, Section 3, available here.

For further information consult the very helpful State Bar of California site.

If the location of your work is or is to be outside the U.S., it may not matter to a U.S. firm that desires a U.S. bar membership whether that membership is in New York or California. Yet other law firms may only require that you be a member of the bar of the country in which you practice.

For a summary of requirements to take the bar in each U.S. jurisdiction, including the rules governing applicants whose law degree is from a foreign school, see the Comprehensive Guide to Bar Admission Requirements published by the National Conference of Bar Examiners and the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, in particular the section on Foreign Law School Graduates.

Students with questions concerning the relative importance of taking the bar in relation to a specific job search or career goals should contact NYU's Office of Career Services. This office will organize practice interviews as well as the Asian Job Fair in Singapore, as well as being available by email, telephone, and videoconferencing to assist students with their career needs.

Additional information about the process for sitting the New York Bar Examination is available from the NYU Office of Academic Services"
Thank you very much Richard - you answered the bulk of my questions!

I also found information from NYU Law's site where they've stated:

"Bar Examinations

The Rules of the New York State Court of Appeals permit a person with an undergraduate law degree from most common law countries to take the bar examination in New York, depending on the length and nature of their legal education. Under the same section of the rules, students whose first law degree is from other countries and who have earned graduate law credits while studying law in the United States may qualify to take the bar examination. The precise language can be found in section 520.6 of the Court's Rules. This link will display all of the Court’s rules on bar admission.

Many students may therefore sit for the New York bar examinations as of right. Students interested in their eligibility to sit for the New York bar examination on the basis of their first law degree are advised to contact the New York State Board of Bar Examiners. The Board does not publish a country specific list, however the following first law degrees from common law jurisdictions may be accepted: Australia, Canada (excluding Quebec), Ghana, Hong Kong, Ireland, Israel, Kenya, Liberia, New Zealand, Nigeria, the Philippines, Sierra Leone, Singapore, South Africa (after 1998), Tanzania, Uganda, and the United Kingdom. If in doubt, you should request an evaluation using the form available here.

Students who are graduates of a civil law school and whose graduate credits are earned by study outside the United States may petition for permission to take the New York bar examination based on their particular circumstances under Rule 520.14. However, our experience so far is that petitions are not likely to be successful unless a student has significant experience with U.S. law – such as with a U.S. law firm or company – prior to filing the petition.

Other students who wish to sit for an American bar exam should consider doing so in the state of California. California Bar authorities have told us that under that state’s rule any person who is admitted as a lawyer and in active status and good standing in a foreign jurisdiction may take its general bar examination. See this notice for more details.

The California rule is more complicated if you are not presently admitted in another jurisdiction. Then, permission to take the exam depends on the nature of your undergraduate legal education and your LL.M. course of study among other things. See especially Rule II, Section 3, available here.

For further information consult the very helpful State Bar of California site.

If the location of your work is or is to be outside the U.S., it may not matter to a U.S. firm that desires a U.S. bar membership whether that membership is in New York or California. Yet other law firms may only require that you be a member of the bar of the country in which you practice.

For a summary of requirements to take the bar in each U.S. jurisdiction, including the rules governing applicants whose law degree is from a foreign school, see the Comprehensive Guide to Bar Admission Requirements published by the National Conference of Bar Examiners and the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, in particular the section on “Foreign Law School Graduates”.

Students with questions concerning the relative importance of taking the bar in relation to a specific job search or career goals should contact NYU's Office of Career Services. This office will organize practice interviews as well as the Asian Job Fair in Singapore, as well as being available by email, telephone, and videoconferencing to assist students with their career needs.

Additional information about the process for sitting the New York Bar Examination is available from the NYU Office of Academic Services"
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