New curriculum sets new conditions for LL.M. programs that make lawyers eligible

The New York State Court of Appeals has announced new changes to its rules for foreign lawyers who finish a US LL.M. degree to qualify for the state bar exam. The amendments went into effect on May 18.

The changes are focused on the required curriculum of LL.M. programs that make many foreign lawyers eligible to sit the bar.

For example, to be eligible, lawyers will have to have completed LL.M. programs that meet the following criteria:
- require at least 24 credit hours of coursework (up from 20 credit hours);
- take no longer than two years to complete;
- be "completed at the campus of an approved law school in the United States, except as otherwise expressly permitted by subdivision";
- not be completed exclusively during summer semesters;
- offer minimum credit hours focusing in specific subjects, such as legal research and writing and the "history, goals, instruction, value, rules and responsibilities" of the US legal profession.

The changes also stipulate that "no credit shall be allowed for correspondence courses, on-line courses, courses offered on DVD or other media, or other distance learning course."

The New York bar exam is by far the most popular US bar exam for foreign-trained LL.M. grads.

Meanwhile, according to an article this week in The National Law Journal, the American Bar Association (ABA) is considering imposing general curriculum requirements on US LL.M. programs designed specifically for foreign-trained attorneys. These standards could ultimately result in the number of states that allow foreign lawyers to sit the bar exam.

For more information, please visit the State of New York Court of Appeals website, or read Karen Sloan's recent coverage in The National Law Journal.

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