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The Bar Exam

allenaallena Registered User Posts: 1,716 Senior Member
edited December 2005 in Law School
This question is going to be mostly geared towards the handful of people on here who are actual lawyers and know how this works. I'm currently a 3rd year at UCLA, and am getting preped for the law school admissions process. I'm planning on taking the LSAT in September, and applying for admissions for Fall 2007.

So I've now started the hunt for the right law school. Since I have not taken the LSAT yet, I've been using my GPA as the big factor, and just putting in a estimate (always lower than what I think I'll get) of what my LSAT score will be. Not an exact science, but this is early research into schools I'd consider. Anyways one of the statistics that I've heard many times over is that chances are I'll end up practicing law in the general area of where I went to school. I know I'll have to pass the state specific bar, but what I'm wondering is if any part of the exam is set on a national standard. Basically if I pass the exam in New York, and then decide to move to California, will I have to retake the entire exam, or only the California specific part?

Also how specifically does that work say if I went to school in Louisiana? For a long time I had been considering Tulane (which may now have changed due to the Hurricane). I know that Louisiana uses a Civil Law system, whereas the rest of the nation is on a Common Law system. Does that make the Louisiana bar exam (and general legal education for that matter) vastly different than elsewhere in the country?
Post edited by allena on

Replies to: The Bar Exam

  • jonrijonri Registered User Posts: 7,177 Senior Member
    I have no first hand knowledge of Tulane, but my understanding is that it offers two tracks--one civil law, for folks who plan to stay in Louisiana and one common law, for everyone else.

    Some states include a "multistate" bar exam as one component. This part is the same in all the states that use it and everyone takes it on the same date. However, it's not a national bar exam, because some states don't use it at all. But, while if you take multiple bar exams in different states at roughly the same time, you'll just use the same multistate test for all of them, if you have to take a bar exam years down the road, you'll have to retake the multistate, at least in the few states I know something about. The fact you passed the multistate 5 years earlier is meaningless, at least in those states. (Moreover, at least the last time I checked, the cut off score for passing varies from state to state. In some states, your multistate score is added to your score for the rest of the bar exam; whether you pass is determined by the total. So, there's no separate cut off. )

    Different states offer reciprocity. This often means you can be admitted to the bar in a given state if you've been admitted to the bar in another state for X number of years. Thus, I don't know if it's still the case, but NY attorneys could waive into Massachusetts if they'd been attorneys for 5 years. With less than 5 years experience, you had to take the Mass bar.

    Some states won't give reciprocity. California doesn't give recipocity to any state. To be admitted in California, you must take the California bar exam.

    It's fine to get a general idea of how the system works, but if you are really sure that you are interested in X state, check the rules for that state .
  • allenaallena Registered User Posts: 1,716 Senior Member
    Yeah I'm trying to get a general feel of the situation. I'll look at the specific states more in depth when the time comes.
  • blackeyedsusanblackeyedsusan Registered User Posts: 2,515 Senior Member
    Most states have reciprocity after practicing a certain number of years. Louisiana doesn't -- in fact, they don't even use the multistate on their bar exam. When I went to Tulane Law School, most of the Louisiana students stayed in La to practice law and took the La bar exam; most non-La students got jobs in other states and never took the La bar exam.
  • concerneddadconcerneddad Registered User Posts: 1,734 Senior Member
    To add to what jonri said, California has a separate bar exam for attorneys licensed in other states, and applying for Cal. bar admission.
  • csshsmcsshsm Registered User Posts: 259 Junior Member
    Admittedly, I was educated in another era, as my children will tell you, but I went to an out-of-state law school, took the Bar Exam there, and then came to Louisiana to take its Bar Exam. It was really no problem. I took a Bar Exam course during which I found that I was really learning new terms for the same thing. It is especially helpful if you come to Louisiana from a community property state because that seemed to be the area that gave the non-LA people the most trouble. The LA Bar Exam used to be all essay, but I think now you take an ethics multiple choice that is similar to the multistate. And it is correct that many Tulane grads never take the LA Bar Exam; they just do the common law track and then take the Bar Exam wherever they go. I have never heard of it being a problem (except for in CA, where as I understand it, the Bar Exam is extremely difficult).
  • drusbadrusba Registered User Posts: 9,422 Senior Member
    All states except Louisiana and Washington have the Multi-State Bar Exam and you can take it once and transfer it to another state if your score is high enough for that state (most states require about 140 out of 200 to transfer). All states except Maryland, Wisconsin, and Washington also have the Multi-State Professional Responsibility Exam (ethics) that you can pass from one state to another (i.e, even Louisiana accepts that one from another state). States then have either their own essay portion or some have gone to a Multi-State Essay exam. One state, Wisconsin, automatically admits without exam any graduate of the University of Wisconsin or Marquette law schools. For transfering after practicing for a while, most states have reciprocity agreements which allow you to get admitted in a new state if you practiced for a certain period of time (usually 5 years) in another state. California, Lousiana, and Florida are among the exceptions that have no reciprocity. The Lousiana Code System is not all that different from the common law system. The major differences are in terminology rather than substance. For example, states have statutes of "Limitations" which cut off the time by which you must sue; Lousiana has the same thing but just calls it "Prescription." Little known to many is that California is itself a "Code" state in that it long ago put into code (statutes) almost all the rules that most other states follow as part of the common law. The California bar exam is not really any more difficult than many other states. However, it has a low passing rate because it allows graduates of non-ABA approved law schools to take the exam and those graduates generally have low passing rates.
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