Registering with state bar examiners
Many state bar examiner boards require students to register with the state board during their first year in law school. Because this practice varies from state to state, students are responsible for determining the applicability of this and any other requirement of the state in which they anticipate seeking admission to the bar.
Students planning to take a bar examination should call the state bar examiners well in advance to determine bar requirements. The National Conference of Bar Examiners maintains a comprehensive list of bar admission offices and requirements.
Qualifications for admission to the bar
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.
Some jurisdictions, e.g. New York, may impose pro bono requirements greater than the UMass Law graduation requirement. In addition, UMass Law has not determined whether completing its curriculum satisfies all bar-eligibility requirements in every state.
Applicants are encouraged to determine what those requirements are in the state(s) in which they intend to practice by consulting the website of the National Conference of Bar Examiners and the Bar Admissions webpage of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar.
Applicants should also try to consult with an official of the bar as necessary to discover whether any past conduct could keep them from becoming admitted to the bar upon graduation from law school.
New York Bar Skills Competency Requirement
In December 2015, the New York Court of Appeals adopted Rule 520.18 establishing bar admission requirements regarding skills competencies and professional values applicable to all students who begin their JD studies in August 2016 or later. Rule 520.18 provides five pathways by which JD students can satisfy the requirement.
Pathway 1 requires that (1) the law school publish a plan to incorporate into its curriculum the skills and professional values required to prepare its graduates for competent and ethical participation in the legal profession, and (2) the law school certify that the graduate seeking admission to the New York bar has attained sufficient competency in the relevant skills and sufficient familiarity with the relevant professional values. Pathway 1 permits the law school to use course grades to determine whether a student has attained these skills and professional values.
For the plan required under Rule 520.18, see the UMass Law New York Bar Skills Competency Requirement Pathway 1 Certification Plan (PDF). UMass Law assesses whether students have attained sufficient competency in the core competencies through our grading system, as permitted by Rule 520.18(1)(ii).
Accommodations on MPRE and bar exams
Students requesting examination accommodations for the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) or state bar examinations should know that the interpretations of the Americans with Disabilities Act requirements used by the various bar examining authorities may differ from those used in undergraduate education.
Students are advised to ascertain the testing accommodation standards for each jurisdiction in which they plan to take the bar examination.
Read information about testing accommodations for the MPRE and individual state bar examinations