Bar Advising

 

GW Law offers advising to its students and alumni seeking membership to various state bars. While this page is regularly updated, applicants are advised to confirm the information with the official web pages of the specific state bar in which they seek membership because the requirements for each state vary. It is each student's responsibility to research the specific bar admissions requirements for their intended jurisdiction.

In order to obtain a license to practice law, almost all law school graduates must apply for bar admission through a state board of bar examiners. Most often this board is an agency of the highest state court in the jurisdiction, but occasionally the board is connected more closely to the state’s bar association. The criteria for eligibility to take the bar examination or to otherwise qualify for bar admission are set by each state.

Bar Admissions Overview

Licensing involves a demonstration of worthiness in two distinct areas:

The first is competence. For initial licensure, competence is ordinarily established by showing that the applicant holds an acceptable educational credential (with some exceptions, a JD degree) from a law school that meets educational standards, and by achieving a passing score on the bar examination. In addition, each state may have additional requirements for admission to the Bar. For example, New York requires that applicants must:

  • Take and complete an online course in New York-specific law, known as the New York Law Course (NYLC), and pass an online examination, known as the New York Law Exam (NYLE).
  • Earn a score of at least 85 on the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE).
  • Comply with the NY Skills Competency Requirement.
  • Comply with the 50-hour Pro Bono Requirement.

The second is a demonstration of worthiness to practice law. Because law is a public profession, and because the degree of harm a lawyer can inflict is substantial, decisions about who should be admitted to practice law are carefully made by bar examiners. Bar examiners conduct a thorough, comprehensive investigation of each applicant  before admitting them to practice law in their state/jurisdiction. 

The key to the character and fitness review is full disclosure of information. Most reviewers consider your driving record, employment history, credit status, physical and mental health status, and general compliance with the law. State bar examiners compare your law school admissions application with your bar form disclosures. In your last semester, you should check to be certain that you have been fully forthcoming to the law school with information pertaining to your past. To make a supplemental disclosure, students can complete the Supplemental Disclosure Google Form. Students can also meet with Assistant Dean of Students Jason Belk. To schedule a meeting, students can use his Calendly link.  Students unsure whether a disclosure needs to be made can consult with Professor Robert Tuttle ([email protected]) for confidential advising. 

AccessLex has created a Character and Fitness Checklist that you can use to guide your admissions application preparation

Bar Application Basics

Applicants should begin working on their bar exam applications at the beginning of the semester in which they intend to graduate. There may be documents you need that take weeks to gather. Treat this application as if it were a security clearance.  Be certain to fully complete and sign the documents that you need GW Law Records or the GWU Registrar to process to avoid delay. In many instances, a notary is required for certain documents. For student convenience, a notary is located in the Records Office to provide assistance.

Documents Frequently Requested:

  • Admissions application - JD students should email the GW Law Admissions Office to request (include GWID in the body of the email).
  • Employer Affidavit - Students should contact their direct supervisor to complete.
  • Transcripts - Students must request their official transcript from GW Office of the Registrar.
  • Graduation Verification / Law School Certificates - State bars require proof that you have earned a law degree. Most state bars require this proof in the form of something like a Certificate of Attendance, Law School Certificate, or Graduation Certification, which is then certified by the institution where you earned your law degree. (Contact your state bar if you have questions about accessing this form.) Depending on the jurisdiction, either the GW Law Records office or the GWU Registrar completes this document. 
  • In addition to the Bar certification/form, you will also be required to complete a Certification Request Form, which provides each respective office with instructions on how to process your form and authorization to release the form to the Bar. Please note the following and submit your requests accordingly:

State Specific Considerations:

  • New York - GW Law School certifies JD graduates using Pathway 1 on the Skills Affidavit. The NY Form Law School Certificate is a separate/different form from the NY Certificate of Attendance (JD). The Form Law School Certificate and Skills Affidavit (Pathway 1) both go to whichever NY Judicial Department is indicated on the form (First, Second, Third, or Fourth), whereas the NY Certificate of Attendance goes to NY State Board of Law Examiners. We complete the Form Law School Certificate and Skills Affidavit and send it to the NY Judicial Department that is indicated on the form.
  • California - Students must complete and submit the GWU Registrar Electronic Request Authorization indicating that California will be sending the bar form to the Registrar's Office for completion. This is an important step in the process even if a student completes an electronic release through the California Bar. The GWU Registrar is unable to accept electronic signatures which are used by California.
  • Fingerprints - Both Virginia and California require.

Registering Intent to Seek Admission:

  • Some jurisdictions require future licensure applicants to register their intent to seek admission to their bar.  A summary of this information can be found on the National Conference of Bar Examiners’ Chart 1’s Supplemental Remarks.

If you have already secured employment, contact your employer to determine their policy on bar admission and expense reimbursement, and whether they designate the state bar you should take. Some employers will only reimburse bar courses and exam fees for states in which they have an office. As a general rule, employers understand that once you are licensed in another jurisdiction, for a fee you can waive into another UBE state as long as you have earned a specified minimum score.

The Bar Exam

The Uniform Bar Examination (UBE) is a bar exam that is contemporaneously delivered in every jurisdiction that has adopted the UBE. It consists of the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE), the Multistate Performance Test (MPT), and the Multistate Essay Examination (MEE). The UBE tests knowledge of general principles of law, legal analysis and reasoning, and communication skills – essentially, it tests the fundamental knowledge and lawyering skills that are needed to begin the practice of law. The UBE is uniformly administered, graded and scored, and it results in a score that can then be transferred to other UBE jurisdictions.

The UBE is administered on the last Tuesday and Wednesday of February and July. During the morning session on Tuesday (9:30 am to 12:30 pm), applicants are given three hours to complete two MPT items. During the afternoon session on Tuesday (2:00 pm to 5:00 pm), applicants are given three hours to answer six MEE questions. On Wednesday, applicants will take the MBE, which is a six-hour, 200 question multiple-choice exam divided into two three-hour sessions (9:30 am to 12:30 pm and 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm).

Students seeking testing accommodations for the Bar Exam (or the MPRE) should review the Disability Support Services web page.

Book your travel and hotel accommodations as soon as possible to ensure convenience and comfort. Several states cooperate to enable candidates to sit for more than one bar within the same week (e.g., NY and NJ). Consult the NCBE website for more information.

The ABA Law Student Division has created resources highlighting mental health, physical health and wellness while preparing for the bar exam.  

Two Self-Assessment Opportunities

Through collaboration with GW offices and external vendors, we have created two tools for soon-to-be GW Law graduates:

Bar Admissions Readiness Self-Audit

Bar applications have many facets.  This tool allows GW Law students to answer a series of questions related to their bar admissions process.  Upon completion, it generates a progress report and provides students with a list of application items that require further attention.

To access this tool, click this link.  Students will be asked to authenticate using their UserID credentials (these are the same credentials you use to register for classes in GWeb and access DegreeMAP).  A copy of your responses will be emailed to you upon completion of the form.

MBE Readiness Assessment

The Multistate Bar Exam (MBE) is administered in all US jurisdictions but Louisiana.  This includes jurisdictions that have not adopted the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) in its entirety.  This tool allows GW Law students to take a simulated MBE.  This simulation is a 50 question (90 minute) exercise.  A full MBE is a 200 question (6 hour) exam.

Themis Bar Review has enrolled all students in a course titled “GW Law MBE Readiness Assessment - 2022-2023.” To access this course, go to www.themisbar.com/sign_in and login. Once logged in, press the blue ‘launch’ button next to the course name. Once in the course, you will click on the Assessment, and then click “Begin.” 

For students who already have a Themis account, no further action is required, and you will log in with your existing credentials.

For students who do not have an existing Themis account, over the next couple of business days you will receive an email from Themis with login credentials.  If you do not see the email, check your filters/spam folders.

For any student having difficulty logging into your Themis account, email [email protected] and state that you are attempting to launch your GW - Law MBE Readiness Assessment - 2022-2023.

SPECIAL NOTE: This MBE Readiness Assessment tool is not a complete bar review course.  As a matter of policy, GW Law School refrains from recommending a specific commercial bar review course or company, but we do provide information for the convenience of our students. A bulletin board dedicated to bar related matters is maintained in the lounges. Please see this bulletin board for the latest promotions from various commercial bar review companies.

 

Workshops

Workshops are offered to provide GW Law students with the basic knowledge of the bar application process.

  • Wednesday, September 7, 2022, 3pm (L201): Recording & Slide Deck
  • Wednesday, January 25, 2023, 3pm 

 

Contact

For individual consultations regarding your bar application, contact:

Andrew Realon

 

LLM students should contact Melanie Orhant for bar advising.

For information about bridge loans and other financial aid, contact the Office of Financial Aid.

For questions about forms, or to submit a completed form to the GW Law Records Office, contact Jo Jones (Records Office) at [email protected] to submit bar forms/documents that require GW Law School’s certification. 

External Links