Admission to the Practice of Law
A license to practice law is obtained by applying for bar admission through a state board of law examiners upon graduation from law school. Bar admission eligibility and qualifications are set by each individual state but generally involve passing a bar examination and an assessment of the applicant's character and fitness. The National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) assists the state bar admission authorities by providing standardized examinations to nearly every jurisdiction in the United States. In collaboration with the American Bar Association, NCBE anually publishes The Comprehensive Guide to Bar Admissions Requirements which provides updated information on bar admission requirements in all U.S. jurisdictions, including a directory of state bar admissions agencies.
Qualifications for Admission to the Bar
In addition to a bar examination, there are character, fitness, and other qualifications for admission to the bar in every U.S. jurisdiction. Applicants are encouraged to determine the requirements for any jurisdiction in which they intend to seek admission by contacting the jurisdiction. Addresses for all relevant agencies are available through the National Conference of Bar Examiners. You can find each state's requirements here.
General Bar Exam Resources
- American Bar Association – Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar
- National Conference of Bar Examiners
The Texas Bar Exam
The Supreme Court of Texas is the agency that sets the qualifications for applicants to be licensed to practice in Texas. The administration of this process is the responsibility of the Texas Board of Law Examiners.Students who intend to practice law in the State of Texas must file with the Board of Law Examiners a Declaration of Intention to Study Law. Postmark deadlines are strictly enforced. Visit the Texas Board of Law Examiners official website for additional information, official Bar Examination filing deadlines, and examination dates.
Students intending to practice in states other than Texas should consult with the applicable agency in that state to determine what actions they need to take. Useful information regarding these requirements can be found in the ABA Comprehensive Guide to Bar Admission Requirements and at other links below.
Students interested in courses tested on the Texas Bar Exam can review the SMU Course Recommendations materials as they plan their academic schedule each semester.
Students who intend to practice law in Texas must also pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE). This test is administered three times a year. For information about this test you may consult the relevant page from the website of the National Conference of Bar Examiners.
Other relevant information that students need regarding Bar Review Courses and Bar Examination Loans, together with applicable forms can be found in the links below.
Bar Exam Eligibility for International Students
International students who wish to practice law in this country and qualify for admission to the bar in one of the states or the District of Columbia should familiarize themselves with the bar admission requirements in the particular jurisdiction where they plan to practice. Bar admission requirements vary from state to state. Some states require applicants to have a J.D. degree, and others will require only a certain number of course credits from a law school in this country. Texas now allows qualified foreign educated attorneys who have completed an LL.M. degree to sit for the Texas Bar examination.View rules governing Admission to the State Bar of Texas.
View a fact sheet that summarizes the Eligibility of Foreign-Educated Applicants and Foreign Attorneys to take the Texas Bar Examination,
General Bar Exam Information
- SMU Course Recommendations
- Texas Board of Bar Examiners
- National Conference of Bar Examiners
- ABA Comprehensive Guide to Bar Admission Requirements