Bar reciprocity is when one jurisdiction recognizes the license of a lawyer from another jurisdiction. If a lawyer is admitted to the New York bar based on reciprocity, then the lawyer would not be required to take the bar exam in the new jurisdiction.
The following example illustrates reciprocity. New York (the local jurisdiction) will allow an attorney admitted to the bar in Arizona (the other jurisdiction) admission to the New York bar without the attorney having to take the New York bar exam. However, the reciprocity is only permitted if Arizona also allows a lawyer admitted to the bar in New York admission to the bar of Arizona without the lawyer having to take the Arizona bar exam.
Bar Reciprocity Conditions
In practice, reciprocity is more complex than described in the example because jurisdictions having “reciprocity” typically impose certain conditions in addition to the attorney being licensed in the other jurisdiction. A common condition requires that the attorney have practiced law in the other jurisdiction for a specified number of years.
Reciprocity is often referred to by “admission by waiver” and “admission on motion.”
Admission by Waiver
Pursuant to admission by waiver, an attorney is “waived in” to the local jurisdiction’s bar.
Admission on Motion
Pursuant to admission on motion, an attorney may make a motion for admission to the local jurisdiction’s bar. The local jurisdiction would grant the motion if the conditions for reciprocity are satisfied.
Requirements for Admission, on Motion, to the New York Bar
New York Law provides for admission on motion. The New York State Board of Law Examiners allows for the attorney’s admission on motion to the New York State Bar, if the attorney:
- has practiced law for five of the preceding seven years,
- is admitted to practice law in a least one reciprocal jurisdiction, and
- has graduated from an American Bar Association approved law school.
Jurisdictions Having Reciprocity with New York
Reciprocity agreements change from year-to-year. Please check with the New York Board of Law Examiners for the latest information. At the time of publication, for the purposes of admission on motion, the following 39 jurisdictions have reciprocity with New York:
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
Applying for Admission, on Motion, to the New York Bar
In order to apply for admission by motion, an attorney needs to obtain a Certificate of Legal Education from the New York Board of Law Examiners. An attorney must pay a $400 fee when applying for this certification as provided in the packet for admission on motion downloadable from the New York Board of Law Examiners. In addition to submitting the application form and fee to the New York law examiners, the attorney must have their law school complete and return a form directly to the New York law examiners.