You must meet eligibility requirements to sit for the New York bar exam. The New York Board of Bar Examiners is the administrative organization charged with enforcing the New York bar exam eligibility requirements. If you have any specific questions regarding your eligibility, you should contact the examiners directly.
You may be wondering whether you need to attend law school to be eligible to sit for the New York bar exam. In short, every method for qualifying to sit for the New York bar exam requires some study in law school. There are several alternative New York bar exam eligibility requirements.
- Obtain a Juris Doctorate degree from a law school approved by the American Bar Association (ABA).
- Complete a combination of law school study and law office study.
- Practice in another jurisdiction and complete study in law school not approved by the ABA.
- Study in a foreign law school.
- Qualify under the Pro Bono Scholars Program
If you received a Juris Doctorate degree from an ABA approved law school, you may be qualified to take the New York bar exam. The law school must, at all times during your attendance, have been approved by the ABA.
Law Office Study/Clerkship
Non-ABA Law School Study
Foreign Law School Study
If you completed law school outside of the United States, you may be eligible to take the New York bar exam. The foreign law school program you completed must be “substantively equivalent” to the Juris Doctorate program at ABA approved law schools. The program must also be equivalent in duration. In most cases, law graduates from the United Kingdom, Ireland, and many other commonwealth countries, are eligible to take the New York bar exam. In some cases, the New York examiners may require you to complete additional study at an ABA approved law school in order to obtain eligibility.
We publish a comprehensive guide to eligibility as a foreign applicant as a part of our New York Bar Exam Complete Guide for Foreign Applicants.
Pro Bono Scholars Program
You may obtain eligibility to take the New York bar exam under the Pro Bono Scholars Program. If you are in the final year of a Juris Doctor degree program at an ABA approved law school, you may be eligible to sit for the February New York bar exam in exchange for devoting your last semester to providing pro bono (free) legal services through an approved program.