Bar Exam Information
All students should investigate bar exam information early in law school. It is never too soon to get started, since state requirements and timing vary widely. Some jurisdictions require law students to register quite early in their law school careers (even 1L year). If you have not narrowed down your jurisdiction to a specific state, investigate the requirements of your leading two or three contenders.
In addition to a bar examination, there are character, fitness, and other qualifications for admission to the bar in every U.S. jurisdiction. Applicants are encouraged to determine the requirements for any jurisdiction in which they intend to seek admission by contacting the jurisdiction. Addresses for all relevant agencies are available through the National Conference of Bar Examiners.
Because NDLS students practice in such a large number of jurisdictions, the Career Development Office is unable to provide specific information regarding every jurisdiction. Each student is responsible for reviewing and understanding the requirements of the jurisdiction in which they wish to practice.
- The ABA’s Comprehensive Guide to Bar Exam Requirements has a thorough overview of each jurisdiction’s requirements, with much of the information presented in table format for easy comparison.
- The National Conference of Bar Examiners site lists every state’s bar admission agency.
- Online Character & Fitness Applications can be reviewed for each state through the NCBE’s website.
- Requirements for Character & Fitness Determinations is a comprehensive chart showing a summary of character & fitness items for all jurisdictions.
- American Bar Association Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar
- The Moral Character & Fitness section of the Code of Recommended Standards for Bar Examiners includes examples of issues that might be cause for further inquiry about character and fitness to practice law.
All States Differ
It is critical to pay close attention to the requirements of each jurisdiction that must be met in order to both sit for the bar exam and be admitted to practice. Requirements vary widely and may require lead time to accomplish. For instance…
- Illinois requires students to pass the MPRE prior to sitting for the bar exam. It also specifies that students must have completed 60 credit hours or 2/3 of their law school education prior to sitting for the MPRE.
- Ohio requires students to register during their second year of law school and show proof of attendance at a one-credit hour substance abuse class prior to sitting for the bar exam.
- New York requires all candidates for admission to submit documentation showing they have completed 50 hours of qualifying pro bono service.
- California is proposing a rule requiring bar applicants to have completed 15 units of competency skills training during law school or participation in an internship or clerkship, which is higher than the standard ABA requirement for graduation and higher than other states that may have skills requirements.
Students should investigate carefully the requirements of the jurisdiction in which they intend to sit for the bar exam and prepare accordingly. Since jurisdiction rules and policies can change, students are strongly encouraged to consult the bar admission agency directly with questions and to ensure accuracy of the information.
Bar Admission Documentation
To sit for the bar, every jurisdiction requires the submission of certain forms and other documentation.
- Forms That Must Be Completed By the Law School: Please submit such forms to Anne Hamilton, Law School Registrar, at:
Notre Dame Law School
P.O. Box 780
Notre Dame, IN 46556-0780
overnight mail address: Notre Dame Law School, 1100 Eck Hall of Law, Notre Dame, IN 46556
Because of the volume of forms that need to be completed at the end of the academic year, current 3L students should submit such forms by no later than April 15th of their 3L year in order to ensure that the forms can be completed and forwarded to the appropriate jurisdiction in time for students to sit for the July bar exam immediately following their graduation.
- Transcripts: Officials transcripts are only available from the University Registrar’s office and must be requested directly from that office. Please note that you will not be able to obtain an official transcript if there is a hold in place because of any outstanding financial obligations.
- Character & Fitness Investigations: Such investigations are done by the bar examiners once you submit your application. Generally, any disciplinary actions/academic issues or any discrepancies between the bar exam application and law school application are examined. If you believe there is a discrepancy between the bar exam and law school applications, you should contact Anne Hamilton, Law School Registrar, at Hamilton.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bar Review Courses
Many students choose to enroll in a commercial course designed to help them review and prepare for the bar exam. Listed below are links to several popular bar prep courses. These sites contain a summary of Bar information from all jurisdictions which can be useful for any student researching bar exam requirements. These links are provided merely as a convenience to our students and alumni and does not constitute an endorsement of any programs or products by the University of Notre Dame or Notre Dame Law School.
- Kaplan PMBR Bar Review
- Themis Bar Review
- RIGOS Bar Foundation Resources
THE PATENT BAR EXAM
To become a Patent Attorney, one must pass the Patent Bar Exam administered by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO). Individuals interested in sitting for the Patent Bar Exam should be aware of the requirements for admission to the examination which include specific scientific backgrounds.
- Patent Bar Exam – General Requirements. This page of the USPTO website contains the General Requirements Bulletin, containing exam requirements and application instructions, as well as the credit card payment form (separate PDF).
- Patent Bar Exam – Highlights
MULTISTATE PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILTY EXAM (MPRE)
Adjunct to the bar exam, some jurisdictions require a passing score on the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) an ethics test offered three times a year and administered and graded by the National Conference of Bar Examiners.
Since testing information is subject to change, you should always consult the official NCBE website for full details and specifics.