Many LL.M. students choose to sit for a bar examination in the United States upon completion of their Master of Laws studies. Most states do not permit individuals to sit for their bar examinations unless they hold a J.D. degree from a U.S. law school, but there are a few notable exceptions. Two states that permit such individuals to sit for their bar examinations with an LL.M. degree, if they meet certain other requirements, are New York and California. If you are interested in sitting for the bar examination of any state, you should consult the bar examiners of that state to determine your eligibility.
Many of our foreign-trained LL.M. graduates choose to sit for the New York Bar Examination. If you are considering taking this exam, you should carefully read the information on the official website of the New York Board of Law Examiners of the State of New York (BOLE). In particular, note the link to "Foreign Legal Education" on the menu on the homepage of the BOLE website.
Please note that admission to our LL.M. program does not guarantee or in any way suggest eligibility to sit for the New York or any other state's bar examination. Additionally, while we endeavor to provide accurate and up-to-date information regarding bar examination requirements, you are ultimately responsible for ensuring that your program of study fulfills all requirements for the New York bar.
The New York Court of Appeals sets forth the rules for admission of foreign-trained attorneys. Generally speaking, a foreign-trained attorney may qualify to sit for the New York Bar Examination if the following conditions are met:
(1) The applicant must hold a "Qualifying Degree." This means that the applicant must have "fulfilled the educational requirements for admission to the practice of law" in the foreign country. The "Qualifying Degree" must be in law and must be from a school that is accredited by the competent authority in the foreign country.
(2) The applicant's period of law study must be substantively and durationally equivalent to the legal education provided by an ABA-approved school in the U.S.
Most foreign-trained attorneys meet the first criteria, but not the second. However, the Court of Appeals provides a way to "cure" the deficiency in the second criteria, by way of a U.S. LL.M. degree (this provision is known as the "Cure" provision). The LL.M. degree can cure either a substantive or a durational deficiency (but not both), provided that the program of study meets certain requirements. Fordham Law School works closely with the Board of Law Examiners and the New York Court of Appeals to ensure that our program of study allows our students to fulfill these requirements.
It is important to note that the vast majority of applicants who are denied eligibility to sit for the New York Bar Examination are denied on the basis of their education in their home country, and not on the basis of their U.S. LL.M. degree (e.g., the applicant has not fulfilled some educational requirement for admission to the bar, or the applicant's program of study is both substantively and durationally insufficient, and thus cannot be remedied by the "Cure" provision). For this reason, if admission to the New York bar is important to you, you are advised to submit your Advance Evaluation of Eligibility (discussed below) in advance of applying to the LL.M. program.
For additional information about the bar examination, please review the information below.
The "Cure" provision in Rule 520.6 requires that students take certain courses in their LL.M. degree program, as follows:
Note: The above table refers to the "Cure" provision in the new rules. LL.M. students who began their programs prior to Fall 2012 should click on the "Previous NY Bar Rules" link to the left to view the course requirements applicable under the previous rules.
Prior to sitting for the New York bar examination, the BOLE must undergo an evaluation of your credentials to determine your eligibility for admission to the bar. The BOLE strongly encourages foreign students to submit this documentation one year in advance of the application period for the examination they wish to take. All foreign-educated applicants MUST complete the foreign evaluation form and have all of their required foreign documentation submitted to the BOLE at least six months prior to the first day of the application filing period for the bar exam they wish to take. If you have not submitted your form and documentation at least six months prior to the first day of the application filing period, you will NOT be permitted to submit an application to sit for that bar examination. The bar examination is offered twice each year, in February and July. The application to sit for the February examination must be submitted in November prior to the examination, and the application to sit for the July examination must be submitted in April prior to the examination. If you plan to sit for the February 2014 bar examination, you MUST submit your request for advance evaluation by May 1, 2013. If you plan to sit for the July 2014 bar examination, you MUST submit your request for advance evaluation by October 1, 2013.
Please note that this is a lengthy and tedious process—do not wait until the last minute! If you have any questions about the process or the required documentation, you should contact the Board of Law Examiners directly at (518) 452-5729.
Although students generally do not begin formally studying for the bar examination until after graduation, Fordham Law School has arranged for two courses, Perspectives in U.S. Law (4 credits; typically offered every spring semester) and Fundamental Principles of New York Law (2 credits; typically offered in the fall semester), which are designed to assist foreign-trained law graduates planning to sit for the New York State Bar Examination. These courses are not a substitute for the commercial bar examination preparatory courses that most students (J.D. and LL.M.) take in the months prior to the bar examination. However, we believe that they will be very helpful in familiarizing you with many areas of U.S. law that are tested heavily on the New York Bar Examination and that may not otherwise be part of your LL.M. studies. Foreign-trained students who plan to take the New York Bar Examination are urged to register for one of these courses. Because there is substantial overlap in the content of these courses, you may not receive credit for both courses.
Following graduation, virtually all students who plan to sit for the bar examination (including both J.D. and LL.M. students) will take a commercial bar preparation course. The various companies that offer such courses will introduce themselves to you throughout your time here at Fordham. These courses typically begin a few days after the end of finals and continue until just before the bar examination.
The New York Bar Examination is offered twice a year, in February and July, on the final Tuesday and Wednesday of the month. The Application Filing Periods for the examinations are as follows:
In addition to the Bar Examination, applicants wishing to be admitted to the New York bar must also take and pass the MPRE. Information regarding the MPRE is available through the National Conference of Bar Examiners.
Our program is not intended to meet the requirements to sit for the California Bar Examination and our course offerings may not satisfy the academic requirements of the California Bar. If you are considering applying to the California Bar, you should visit the website of the California bar examiners and review their requirements for foreign-educated applicants. Please note that Fordham does not offer any courses that cover California law to any significant extent.