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Best Way for a Foreigner to Get into Legal Field in the US – BAR Exam

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Foreigners who want to practice law in the US must first pass the bar exam in the state where they plan to work. Specific guidelines regarding bar exams for foreign students vary per US state. New York is a popular destination for international lawyers due to its relaxed hiring standards. However, foreign candidates will require a New York bar foreign credential evaluation to meet the eligibility criteria.

Read on to learn more about the bar exam – the best way for foreigners to launch a career in the US legal field.

What Is the Bar Exam?

The bar exam is meant to evaluate your knowledge of particular areas of law. It encompasses a wide range of related topics. The purpose of the bar exam is to assess a candidate's suitability for the legal profession. All bar examinations in the US are administered and regulated by separate state governments. Each exam takes place over the course of two or three days.

Different states have different registration processes, application requirements, and registration fees for the bar exam for foreign students. You must contact the law examiners in your state to sign up for the bar exam. Each board also has a website, so it's possible to apply online.

Bar Exam – A Prerequisite for Entering the US Legal Field

There are three steps you must do to earn your law license in the US:

Complete legal education. If you are a foreign lawyer, you must apply for credential evaluation before applying for the bar exam.
Attain acceptance from the state's board of bar examiners to appear in the exam.
Must successfully complete the bar exam.
Only a few states permit foreign lawyers to take the bar exam. Similarly, a small number of states allow law school grads to sit for the bar exam without first gaining some work experience. Some jurisdictions also accept bar test candidates who did not graduate from a formally recognized law school.

Understanding the Bar Exam

Different states have different bar exam components. However, over 30 states have formally embraced either the UBE or the MBE.

UBE (Uniform Bar Exam)

The National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) founded UBE to ensure that all prospective lawyers have the foundational knowledge and abilities necessary to practice law successfully. States that recognize the UBE will accept the score in applications. Besides passing the UBE, candidates in states that have embraced it might need to pass additional tests.

The UBE consists of the following three parts, each of which carries a different weighting:

1. The Multistate Bar Examination

States that administer the UBE give 50% weight to the MBE component. The exam consists of 200 multiple-choice questions and is delivered over six hours. The MBE examines how well a candidate practices law. In particular, it measures the candidates' ability to apply fundamental legal ideas, legal reasoning, and pattern identification.

2. The Multistate Essay Examination

The MEE portion of the UBE is given 30% weight by administering jurisdictions. The Multistate Essay Exam consists of six 30-minute questions. It measures the candidate's capacity for effective written communication. It tests if the candidate can clearly and concisely identify the applicable legal principles to the various situations, differentiate between relevant and irrelevant material, present a reasoned analysis of relevant information, and more.

3. The Multistate Performance Test

States that administer the UBE weight the MPT factor by 20%. MPT consists of two 90-minute exams. The MPT is meant to evaluate the application of layering abilities in realistic scenarios that entry-level attorneys should be able to handle. Instead of being a test of substantive knowledge, it aims to assess fundamental skills and their application, which are not specific to any single field of law.

The UBE is offered twice a year, in the spring and fall, but the laws differ in every state. Each jurisdiction is autonomous and is in charge of its own specific parts of the examination, such as bar exam requirements for foreign lawyers, the application process, regulation of scores, ratings, etc. UBE scores are recognized in all UBE jurisdictions, so lawyers can apply for licensing in many states with just one exam.

Take the Next Step with ERES!

Becoming a lawyer in the US necessitates completing the rigors of a law degree program and taking and passing the bar examination. Foreign students must meet specific criteria to take the bar exam. Credential evaluation experts at ERES can help you in this regard by providing reliable foreign credential evaluation. Reach out to learn more about our services.

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