What You Need to Know About Applying to Take the Bar Exam

At some point during law school, all students develop questions about what happens after graduation, and specifically, curiosity about how one becomes a lawyer. Below, you will find some helpful general information about the process of becoming a lawyer, and you should note that the next steps actually begin while you are still enrolled in law school.

All jurisdictions require a license to practice law, and part of the process of obtaining this license in most jurisdictions requires taking a bar examination and otherwise qualifying for bar admission. Each jurisdiction has its own specific requirements for licensure, and various fees associated with the process for becoming licensed.

In order to take the bar exam, you must generally apply to take the bar exam with the office of bar admissions in the jurisdiction in which you intend to practice. Almost every jurisdiction also requires that you take and pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (more information on this exam can be found here). Individuals who wish to become licensed as lawyers in a specific jurisdiction should check that jurisdiction’s website for specific details. The NCBE (the ‘National Conference of Bar Examiners’) maintains the contact information for each jurisdiction along with a link to respective jurisdiction websites here.

Like when you apply to law school, each jurisdiction has as part of its bar admissions process a ‘character and fitness’ requirement to be considered for admission to practice law. This investigation is done through a separate ‘character and fitness’ application process either with the office of bar admissions in your jurisdiction or through the NCBE. You should visit your intended jurisdiction’s site for more information, and please keep in mind that preparing your character and fitness application may take longer than you expect, so be prepared to begin the process when the application opens. You also want to ensure that you are aware of any application timelines and fees, as jurisdictions vary (for example, in Georgia candidates have two separate filing periods prior to each bar exam, one for character and fitness and one for the bar application to sit for the exam).

Remember, it is your responsibility to investigate this process, maintain awareness of and meet deadlines, and to ensure that you handle your responsibilities around the bar application process. Although AABS will provide programming and guidance during your final year of law school, as well as be available to help you find specific resources, the ultimate responsibility rests with you. It is important that you be diligent in your efforts to learn about the particular process for your jurisdiction.