The Comprehensive Guide to Bar Admission Requirements, published by the ABA and the National Conference of Bar Examiners, identifies 30 U.S. jurisdictions that permit non-U.S.-trained law graduates to become members of their bar. These include 27 states, the District of Columbia (Washington, D.C.), Palau, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. For ease, I refer to these 30 as “U.S. jurisdictions” or “states”.
Some of these jurisdictions require non-U.S.-Trained lawyers to sit for that jurisdiction's bar exam. Some permit these lawyers to join without taking the particular jurisdiction's bar exam. It is suggested that you carefully review the requirements for each jurisdiction in which you have an interest. Check early. Make certain that you can satisfy the jurisdiction's requirements in a time frame that suits you. You are advised to check the requirements early, and often, as requirements may change.
General bar admission requirements -- Exam or No Exam Required?
There are two basic paths to bar admission in the U.S. (and neither of these paths is “easy”!):
a. Admission by examination. This involves satisfying certain eligibility requirements, registering, then sitting for the state’s bar exam. Non-U.S.-trained lawyers typically take this examination route.
b. Admission not by examination. A state may grant a “waiver” so a candidate does not have to sit for the particular state’s bar exam. This is rare for non-U.S.-trained lawyers. The Comprehensive Guide indicates that U.S. jurisdictions that permit