Bar Exam Admissions

The New York State Board of Law Examiners (BOLE) administers the bar examination to candidates seeking admission to practice law in the State of New York.   The bar examination is administered twice per year, in February and July of each year. Candidates who successfully pass the exam components are then certified for admission by the BOLE to one of the four Appellate Divisions of New York Supreme Court.

Additional information, including Bar Exam eligibility, education requirements, application forms, fees, exam results and other detailed answers to FAQs can be found at the Board’s web site here: New York State Board of Law Examiners


Uniform Bar Exam

The New York Court of Appeals adopted the UBE effective with the July 2016 administration of the New York State bar examination.  In addition, all applicants are required to complete an online course on New York law and take and pass an online examination on New York law, as a requirement for admission in New York.

Additional information regarding the UBE, the other requirements, including the requirements for the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) and the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE), as well as detailed answers to other FAQs can be found here: Uniform Bar Examination


Mandatory Pro Bono Requirement

All candidates seeking admission after January 1, 2015, with the exception of admission on motion candidates, will need to file documentation showing that they have completed 50 hours of qualifying pro bono work, as required by §520.16 of the Rules of the Court of Appeals.

Additional information regarding the implementation and requirements of the new rule, the Form Affidavit of Compliance that must be filed with a candidate’s Application for Admission and detailed answers to FAQs can be found here:  Pro Bono Bar Admission Requirements


Pro Bono Scholars Program

The Pro Bono Scholars Program (PBSP) allows students in their final year of law school to devote their last semester of study to performing pro bono service for the poor through an approved externship program, law school clinic, legal services provider, law firm or corporation.

Students who are accepted into the Pro Bono Scholars Program will spend 12 weeks working full time in a pro bono placement, while also completing an academic component at their law school. As an additional benefit for participating in the program, students will be permitted to take the New York bar examination in February of their final year of study, before they graduate. Upon successful completion of the program and any other graduation requirements, students will be awarded their Juris Doctor degree and be admitted to practice as soon as practicable after graduation. Therefore, by participating in the program, students can accelerate the pace at which they can enter the legal market as licensed attorneys.

Additional information regarding the program can be found here: Pro Bono Scholars Program


Skills Competency Requirements

Bar examination applicants, who commence their legal studies after August 1, 2016, with the exception of those foreign-educated applicants who are required to complete an L.L.M. program at an ABA-approved law school to which an August 1, 2018 implementation date will apply, must establish that they have acquired the necessary skills, and are sufficiently familiar with the values of the legal profession, to competently practice law.

Applicants may satisfy this requirement by completing one of five separate pathways enumerated in §520.18.  Three of these pathways focus on the completion of academic requirements and participation in experiential learning courses during, or as part of, an applicant’s legal education, while two of the pathways allow an applicant to rely on practical experiences gained outside of law school.

To review the rules for the Skills Competency Requirement (§520.18) see: §520.18 Skills Competency Requirement for Admission

Additional information regarding this requirement can be found here:

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Admission on Motion (Reciprocity)

New York State permits admission on motion, without examination, for applicants who have practiced for five of the preceding seven years, are admitted to practice in at least one reciprocal U.S. jurisdiction, and have graduated from an American Bar Association approved law school.  The New York State Board of Law Examiners (BOLE) is responsible for approving and certifying each candidate for admission on motion.

Additional information, including the list of reciprocal jurisdictions, application forms and fees can be found at the Board’s web site here: Admission on Motion (Reciprocity)


Attorneys who are spouses of active military service personnel assigned to New York and who would like to apply for admission to the New York bar without examination while their spouses are stationed in New York may seek from the Court of Appeals under §520.14 of the Rules of the Court a waiver of strict compliance with the prior practice requirements of §520.10.

For additional information on seeking such a waiver please contact the BOLE at:  New York State Board of Law Examiners

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Additional Requirements for Admission by Exam or on Motion


Character & Fitness Review

Candidates, who are successful on the bar exam and the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination or on motion from a reciprocal US jurisdiction, are then certified by the Board to the Appellate Division to conduct the Character and Fitness Review.  New York State's Supreme Court, Appellate Division, is divided into four Judicial Departments and each Department handles its own admission determinations. The Appellate Divisions are responsible for investigating the moral character and general fitness of every applicant seeking admission to practice law in New York.

The Application for Admission to Practice as an Attorney in New York is uniform in all fourAppellate Division Departments and is to be used by both applicants who have passed the bar examination and applicants applying for admission on motion. 

In addition to the various components in the application for admission, an in-person character and fitness interview will be required of each candidate, and each successful applicant will also be required to appear at a swearing in ceremony to take the oath of office.

Notifications on when to file an application for admission with the Appellate Division will be provided by the BOLE to each candidate upon certification of approval for admission.  Additional information can be found here: New York State Board of Law Examiners - Admission Information

NOTE: Applications for admission must be filed within three (3) years from the date of the initial letter sent by the BOLE notifying the candidate of passing the bar examination. Failing to file an Application for Admission with the Appellate Division within three (3) years of the date on the BOLE notice will result in having to re-take the bar exam.


Biennial Registration

Section 468-a of the Judiciary Law and 22 NYCRR Part 118 of the Rules of the Chief Administrator of the Courts require the biennial registration of all attorneys admitted to the bar in the State of New York, regardless of whether they are resident or non-resident, active or retired, or practicing law in New York or anywhere else.  Prior to taking the oath of office, all candidates for admission must file an initial registration and pay the required fee.  Thereafter, all attorneys are required to renew their attorney registration, and pay the applicable fee, every two years, within 30 days after their date of birth.

For additional information regarding biennial attorney registration, including rules, fee, instructions and answers to FAQs see: Attorney Registration


Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (CLE)

Attorneys admitted to the New York bar are required to earn CLE credits.  Newly admitted attorneys (attorneys admitted to the NY bar for two years or less) must complete sixteen (16) transitional credits in each of the first two years following admission.  Experienced attorneys (attorneys admitted to the NY bar for more than two years) must complete twenty-four (24) CLE credits for each CLE reporting cycle.

CLE credits are reported by attorneys on their biennial registration filings.

For additional information regarding New York’s CLE program, including complete rules, regulations and guidelines, FAQs and applications forms see: Continuing Legal Education


Pro Bono

Rule 6.1 of New York’s Rules of Professional Conduct strongly encourages every lawyer to provide at least 50 hours of pro bono legal services each year, and to contribute financially to organizations that provide legal services to poor persons.

In addition, Part 118 of the Rules of the Chief administrator requires attorneys to anonymously report their legal and non-legal pro bono services and contributions when filing their biennial registration.

For additional information regarding New York’s pro bono rules, anonymous reporting and opportunities to provide pro bono legal services see: Pro Bono Information


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