Bar Exam Information for LL.M. Students

A large number of Vanderbilt LL.M. students sit for state bar exams every year immediately after they graduate. However, it is the responsibility of the LL.M. student to familiarize him/herself with the requirements of the bar exam he/she wishes to take. Eligibility to sit for a particular state bar exam varies from state to state. Completion of the LL.M. degree in itself does not guarantee eligibility to take a bar examination.In some states, including New York, California, and Texas, the completion of an LL.M. degree along with certain other criteria will allow attorneys with a non-U.S. law degree to sit for the bar exam.

For more information, please refer to the Comprehensive Guide to Bar Admissions Requirements  published by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE).

New York Bar Examination

The rules for eligibility for the New York Bar Exam distinguish between those law graduates who are trained in the common law in a traditional university leading to the LL.B. and those who are not. Eligibility requirements are set out at the New York Board of Law Examiners [BOLE] website.

Graduates educated in the civil-law tradition or a non-traditional or mixed legal system may qualify for the New York Bar Exam after receiving a U.S. LL.M. (Master of Laws) degree with certain requirements. See Rule 520.6 [b] [1] [ii] and 520.6 [b] [2].

Please see the NY BOLE website to create your BOLE account. After you create your BOLE Account you may access the Request for Foreign Evaluation Form by logging into your BOLE account in the Applicant Services Portal and scrolling down to the section for Foreign Evaluation Form. Upon submission of the Request for Foreign Evaluation Form you will be required to submit all of the supporting documentation listed below in Section VI.

All foreign educated lawyers must submit the On-Line Request for Evaluation of Foreign Academic Credentials to receive a decision on their eligibility for the New York Bar Exam. The Board of Law Examiners (BOLE) recommends that students submit the Request a least a year before you plan to sit for the exam. Vanderbilt Law recommends that you submit the Evaluation Request and all supporting documents as soon as possible and prior to coming for the LL.M. program. Please see sections "VI. Supporting Documentation" and "VII. Required Documentation" for additional information.

The Board requires that you submit all documentation, including transcripts, at least six months prior to the first day of the application period of the examination you plan to take. The deadline for receipt of the Online Foreign Evaluation AND all Required Foreign Documentation for the July 2024 exam is October 1, 2024.

New York State requires foreign lawyers who wish to sit for the New York Bar Exam upon completion of the LL.M. degree to earn a minimum of 24 credits completed in classroom courses at the law school in substantive and procedural law and professional skills. Of those, 12 credits must be in American law, distributed as follows:

  • at least 2 credits in professional responsibility/legal ethics
  • at least 2 credits in legal research, writing and analysis
  • at least 2 credits in American legal studies, the American legal system or a similar course such as U.S. constitutional law or civil procedure
  • a minimum of 6 credits in other subjects tested on the Uniform Bar Exam.
  • subjects tested on the Uniform Bar Exam

The Vanderbilt Law School LL.M. Program for international students gives students flexibility to choose courses to meet their professional goals. If one of your professional goals is membership in the New York bar, you should establish eligibility to sit for the exam during the Vanderbilt LL.M. program through enrollment in courses that meet the above guidelines.

While no one at Vanderbilt Law School can speak on behalf of the New York Court of Appeals, we try to guide students through the process of determining bar eligibility. Students should consult the Board of Law Examiners' website and follow carefully the instructions posted there, as the Board is the authority in this matter.

These are some of the courses that New York Court of Appeals has approved as meeting the requirements for the new rules:

  • Approved under Rule 520.6 subdivision (b)(3)(vi)(a) – Professional Responsibility

    LAW 7600: Professional Responsibility Law in the United States

    LAW 7602: Professional Responsibility for LL.M. Students

  • Approved under Rule 520.6 subdivision (b)(3)(vi)(b) – Legal research, writing and analysis

    LAW 6102: Introduction to Legal Research Writing and Analysis in the United States

  • Approved under Rule 520.6 subdivision (b)(3)(vi)(c) – American legal studies

    LAW 6062: Life of the Law (for LL.M. Students)

  • Approved under Rule 520.6 subdivision (b)(3)(vi)(d) – Subjects tested on the bar exam:

    LAW 6010: Civil Procedure
    LAW 7077: Conflict of Laws
    LAW 6020: Contracts
    LAW 7078: Constitutional Law I
    LAW 8040: Constitutional Law II- Individual Rights
    LAW 7114: Corporations
    LAW 7116: Corporations and Business Entities
    LAW 6030: Criminal Law
    LAW 7124: Criminal Procedure: Adjudication
    LAW 7126: Criminal Procedure: Investigation
    LAW 7180: Evidence
    LAW 7190: Family Law
    LAW 7024: First Amendment Constitutional Law
    LAW 6070: Property
    LAW 6080: Regulatory State
    LAW 7644: Secured Transactions
    LAW 6090: Torts
    LAW 7790: Wills and Trusts

Uniform Bar Exam

The New York Court of Appeals administers the Uniform Bar Examination (UBE). The UBE consists of the Multistate Bar Exam, a six-hour, 200-question multiple choice exam covering contracts, torts, constitutional law, criminal law, evidence, and real property, the Multistate Performance Test, and the Multistate Essay Examination.

New York Law Course and Exam

Applicants for admission in New York must also take and complete an online course in New York-specific law, known as the New York Law Course (NYLC), and must take and pass an online examination, known as the New York Law Exam (NYLE). This course is currently being developed. For additional information, please refer to the New York Bar Exam website.

The Content Outline for the NYLC and NYLE is available at:  NYLC & NYLE Content Outline.

NY Pro Bono Requirement

The New York State Court of Appeals requires applicants for admission to the New York Bar to perform 50 hours of pro bono service before filing the application for admission to the bar. The requirement need not be fulfilled before a law student applied to take the New York bar exam; rather, the 50 hours must be completed before filing an application for admission.

Vanderbilt is working with local pro bono organizations to assist students who wish to fulfill this requirement while in Nashville. More information will be provided after students arrive for the LL.M. program.

For additional information, please refer to the new rule at on the New York Courts website and follow the link to Frequently Asked Questions.

NY Skills Competency

This section summarizes the requirements of NY Court of Appeals Rule 520.18; it does not displace an individual’s responsibility to read, understand, and comply with any of the NY Bar rules and regulations, including section 520.18. 

In December 2015, the New York Court of Appeals adopted a Skills Competency Requirement for admission to the bar. This is a requirement for admission to the bar (finalizing bar membership) and is not a prerequisite for eligibility to take the New York bar exam.

This new provision requires applicants seeking admission in New York to establish that they have acquired skills and professional values necessary to competently practice law. Applicants may satisfy this requirement by completing one of five separate pathways described in section 520.18.

At this time, Vanderbilt LL.M. students must use the pathways described in subsections 520.18(a)(4) or  520.18(a)(5) of the rule; these pathways allow candidates to establish competence before or after the LL.M. through legal apprenticeship or legal practice in the U.S. or another country prior to admission to the bar.

We recommend that students pay close attention to information and the frequently asked questions (FAQs) on the requirement available from the New York State Board of Law Examiners website.

California Bar Exam

For information on the California bar requirements for foreign trained attorneys, please visit the State Bar of California website.