A Full Guide: US BAR Exam For Foreign Lawyers

Posted on October 7, 2022 By Mathew Berg

It can be quite a challenge for foreign lawyers to move to the US and start their practice from scratch. Regardless of how trained you are, you might not be considered eligible to sit in the BAR exam. Even lawyers with an LL.M degree are often refused a position to take the BAR exam, which can be quite a blow to your career as a lawyer in the United States.

However, you will be pleased to know that there is a way around this. Many states in the US allow foreign lawyers to sit for the BAR exams if they have a credential evaluation report ready to be submitted. Therefore, the best course of action as a foreign lawyer in the US is to get started by applying for credential evaluations for their degrees and diplomas in order to verify your academic achievements and ensure that they meet US standards.

This can be done by reaching out to credential evaluation services in the USA, like ERES, which is dedicated to offering fair and quick evaluation reports to non-US educated individuals. ERES is approved by CBE, which is the Committee of BAR Examiners. Therefore, it is a highly reliable service provider for your credential evaluation requirements. Once you receive the evaluation report, you can move on to the second step, which is taking the BAR exam for foreign lawyers.

Here is everything you should know about credential evaluations and the BAR exam as a foreign student.

Important Guidelines for Foreign Applicants with a Law Degree

The US seems to have a rather fragmented system when it comes to BAR exam eligibility criteria. With each state establishing its own rules for BAR admission, you get the advantage of picking out a state that allows for the easiest process. The California BAR is often considered the most friendly to foreign lawyers. Unlike 23 state BARS that require their applicants to have a law degree from a school that is accredited by the American Bar Association, the California Bar does things a little differently.

The California BAR doesn't require its applicants to have studied within the country. Despite being one of the US's most established and prominent legal markets, the California BAR allows candidates with any 'qualifying degree' as long as it's in law to sit for the exams. However, it is important for this degree to be verified through a credentials evaluation report. You will also need to fill out a foreign evaluation form from the California BAR before you can apply for a seat.

Here are some things to keep in mind when applying for BAR exams in California:

  • You must have a qualifying degree in the law department that satisfies the academic requirements of the United States.
  • The degree should be from a law school that has been accredited by the foreign country’s government. It should be approved and verified.
  • You must have successfully completed a program of an equivalent length to the Juris Doctor legal education that is offered by the American Bar Association. This should be at least 3 years of full-time study.
  • You must have successfully completed a course of study that is equivalent to the Common Law education offered by the American Bar Association.

Once you’ve ensured that you meet all of these requirements, you can begin working on the application process to sit for the BAR exam for foreign lawyers.

Taking the BAR Exam as a Foreign Law Student

The Foreign Evaluation Form is a necessary part of the process of applying for a position to sit for the BAR exams as a foreign law student. However, it doesn't qualify as the start of your application process. Once your form has been approved, you will have to complete the Online Bar Exam Application and pay the fee. This is when you can be sure that you're ready to sit for the California BAR exams. Now that you have the technicalities out of the way, here are some tips to help you do your best in the exams and start your practice in the United States.

Select a Foreign Candidates BAR Course

As a foreign lawyer, your educational background is slightly different from the local students that will be appearing for the exams. To maximize your chances of passing with flying colors, you should enroll yourself in a BAR course that is designed to help foreign lawyers take the exam.

Consider these Factors

Be sure to consider how much time you have to prepare for the BAR exam. Set aside a certain number of hours each day for your preparation, and try taking numerous tests online to ensure you’re ready for it. You should also reach out to people who have previously passed the exam in California and ask for their guidance.

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