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Posted Dec. 20, 2019

LLMs and the Bar Exam

Bar ExamMany LLM programs in the United States are designed specifically for those students with a law degree from outside of the States.

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Other Master of Laws programs may have options for these same students that cover US law and practice, including courses specifically for sitting the Bar Exam.

What is the Bar Exam?

Each state in the US has a slightly different system for approving lawyers who wish to work and practice the law in that state, and therefore each state has a separate Bar Exam that those lawyers wishing to work there must sit. Some recently graduated law students will undertake the Bar Exam in the state they are focussing their job search in before they have gained a position.

Can an LLM help you pass the Bar Exam?

In some states, an LLM in addition to your international undergraduate law degree is enough to be eligible to sit the Bar Exam. These states are California, New York, Washington, Wisconsin and Georgia and they each have different additional requirements. The best place to start the process of researching to sit the Bar Exam in a specific state in the US is the National Conference of the Bar Examiners. Their website will keep you informed of the deadlines as they come up for different parts of the application and will also keep you informed on new legal issues as they arise in the US.

LLMs with specific Bar-preparation tracks

The states that allow in international lawyers to sit the Bar Exam usually require them to complete at least another qualification such as a certificate in English Common Law or legal practice in the US. Some LLM programs in the US include Bar Exam preparation tracks to get you ready to pass the Bar Exam in that state. These often involve extra study and classes during the summer after you have completed the LLM, such as the University of Chicago's LLM program. Their LLM program includes topics such as Ethics for Transactional Lawyers, Modern Professional Responsibility, and Professional Responsibility and the Legal Profession.

Beware of changing eligibility & requirements

Since 2011 some states – such as New York and Washington DC – have made substantial changes to the way they administer the Bar Exam to foreign-trained lawyers. This means that you should not take the advice of anyone who has taken the Bar Exam before and trained outside of the US. Concentrate on the advice that is given by the state's Bar Association you are applying to and your law school for the most relevant up-to-date information.

Some states do not accept foreign-trained lawyers

Several US states do not accept any form of foreign-trained lawyer to sit the Bar Exam. If you wish to work in a state that has such a regulation, then you will need to undertake the undergraduate JD degree instead which takes three years to complete.

Foreign Trained lawyers

Related articles

US Bar Exams Overview

What Exams Can You Expect As An LLM Student?


What Can You Do With An LLM In American Law?

Reasons To Study Your LLM In The States

Global LLM Study Bursaries

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