My answer was easy: I said “It depends”.
I said that 30 U.S. jurisdictions permit non-U.S.-trained LL.M. graduates to sit for their bar examination. Some let them join the bar without sitting for the exam. But each of these states has a different set of requirements.
A general information source for U.S. bar admission requirements is the Comprehensive Guide to Bar Admission Requirements 2014, published by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBEX) and the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar. For details about each jurisdiction’s requirements, you should contact the bar admissions authority of that particular jurisdiction. Contact information is published in the Comprehensive Guide.
The Comprehensive Guide identifies 30 U.S. jurisdictions that permit non-U.S.-Trained law graduates to become members of their bar. Explore the rules of each jurisdiction carefully to determine whether you qualify. Then, pick and choose among the ones for
The “easiest” state bar exam?
Which state bar examination is easiest? Well, it depends.
First, no U.S. bar exam is easy! LL.M. graduates and J.D. graduates both have to work very hard to pass.
You might gain insight on “ease” by checking the bar pass rate for non-U.S.-trained lawyers for states that interest you. For up-to-date bar pass statistics, check the websites of the bar authorities in those states.
You might also check with the U.S. law school whose LL.M. program you wish to join, and find out what percentage of that school’s non-U.S.-trained LL.M. graduates sit for a bar, which bars they sit for, how many pass the bar on their first or subsequent attempt, and how many never pass.
What are your goals in taking a bar exam? Why do we care what your goals are?
Before deciding to take a U.S. bar exam, or choosing which bar to take, ask “what are your goals”, “why do you want to take a U.S. bar exam” or “why do you want to get admitted to a U.S. bar”?
Your answers to these and similar questions might help determine which U.S. bar you should seek to join.
Why do we care what your goals are? For many reasons, for example…
a. If your goals are to practice law in state X but you do not meet state X’s bar examination requirements at this moment, you might be able to join state Y’s bar first, and use Y’s bar admission to help you meet the requirements of state X so you can sit for state X’s bar exam.
b. If your goal is simply to become a member of any state bar (for example if you want this credential to help you in your non-U.S. law practice), your strategy would be different than if you wanted to join a state’s bar and then practice in that state or a different U.S. state.
c. Are your goals long-term? Short-term?
Be sure think through your goals. Make sure your goals are reasonable. Take steps accordingly.
Commercial bar preparation course
No matter which U.S. bar exam you wish to take, please enroll in a commercial bar review preparation course, preferably one that targets international LL.M. students. Your chances of passing the bar exam increase.
Pre-LL.M. Academic Program
If you are able to participate in a pre-LL.M. training course, please do so! This will help you get accustomed to the rigorous academic life at a U.S. law school before your academic year begins. You may gain an edge, be better prepared for your U.S. legal education, and hence be better prepared for the bar exam.
Plot your course of action early, and wisely
It is highly recommended that you decide as early as possible whether you wish to join a U.S. bar. Tailor your pre-U.S. and U.S. education and experience to meet the requirements of that particular bar. If you have not yet completed your first law degree in your home country, try to take steps to help ensure that your home-country education meets educational equivalency requirements of U.S. bars. You might consider a U.S. school’s LL.M. bar passage information when deciding which U.S. school to choose.
Plot your future early, and wisely!