In many professions, all you need to do is graduate from college and immediately embark on finding a job. No additional certifications or licenses are required. In the legal profession, however, things are a bit different. After earning a law degree, you must be admitted to the bar in the state or states you wish to practice. Admission requirements vary from state to state, so you ought to be familiar with you state’s criteria.
If you are looking to practice in New York, then you must be admitted to the New York Bar (NYB). This article is a complete guide to securing the NYB qualification.
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1. Graduate from an Approved Law School
The most straightforward route to being admitted to the NYB is to pursue a law degree in a law school that is approved by the American Bar Association. Better still: consider an approved law school that is located in New York, like the New York Law School. This will enable you to get familiar with the state’s admission requirements and prepare yourself adequately.
It is important to note that:
- Once admitted to an approved law school, you must complete your studies within 24 to 60 months in order to be eligible for the NYB qualification.
- The credit-hours requirement of the law program you choose to pursue must be at least 83, 64 of which must be earned in classroom learning.
- The state may also give consideration to graduates of an approved law program that doesn’t satisfy credit-hour requirements described in (ii) above, as long as they possess some clerkship experience at a law office.
So, what if you graduate from an unapproved law school on US soil? Well, first you will have to find a state with lenient admission requirements to admit you to its bar, practice law in that state for at least five years, and only then can New York deem you competent enough.
What about foreign-educated law graduates? You can also qualify for admission, as long as your school offers law programs that the state considers ‘durationally and substantively equivalent to a program of study at an approved law school in the US’.
Do not whatsoever pursue an online or self-study law program and expect to get the NYB qualification. The state does not accept such degrees.
2. Apply to Sit the NYB Examination
Once you are satisfied that you meet the education requirements, apply for the NYB examination. To do this, you can:
- Apply online through the New York State Board of Law Examiners website.
- Obtain physical forms for the board and submit a paper application.
As of May 2015, the applications fees are as follows:
- $250 for applicants with a degree from approved and unapproved law schools.
- $750 for foreign-educated applicants.
3. Pass the NYB Examination
The last hurdle to getting the NYB qualification is to pass the examination.
In general, the state offers the admission examination in February and July of every year.
You will take the exams online at a designated laptop testing center in Manhattan, Buffalo, Albany or Westchester. The exam covers pretty much everything involved in the practice of law.
After passing your exam, you will be admitted to the NYB and start practicing law.
Needless to say, you should prepare adequately if you don’t want to fail and retake it. The New York Board of Law Examiners website compiles past exam questions, which you should revise to enhance your chances of passing. Good luck.