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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 Chart 4 in 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].

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, 2018 exam is October 1, 2017.

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.

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 788: Professional Responsibility Law in the United States

LAW 788A: Professional Responsibility for LL.M. Students

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

LAW 616: 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 605A: 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 603: Civil Procedure
LAW 692: Conflict of Laws
LAW 606: Contracts
LAW 608: Constitutional Law I
LAW 848: Constitutional Law II- Individual Rights
LAW 708: Corporations
LAW 742: Corporations and Business Entities
LAW 613: Criminal Law
LAW 722: Criminal Procedure: Adjudication
LAW 719: Criminal Procedure: Investigation
LAW 749: Evidence
LAW 737: Family Law
LAW 745: First Amendment Constitutional Law
LAW 620: Property
LAW 688: Secured Transactions
LAW 621: Torts
LAW 866: Wills and Trusts


The Uniform Bar Exam (UBE)

Beginning in July of 2016, The New York Court of Appeals will begin to administer 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 (NYLC) and New York Law Exam (NYLE)

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 .

New York Bar Examination Pro Bono Requirement

The New York State Court of Appeals recently adopted a new rule requiring 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.

All applicants seeking admission to the bar after January 1, 2015 will be required to meet this requirement before applying for admission to the New York Bar. All students graduating in 2014 or after must meet this requirement. 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.

California Bar Examination

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