The Law School’s Office of Registration Services is responsible for the completion of all forms relating to Bar examinations and certifications of character and fitness.
Submit your forms to the Registration Services Office in 500 William & June Warren Hall, or mail to:
Office of Registration Services
Columbia Law School
435 West 116th Street
New York, NY 10027
We urge you to familiarize yourself with the requirements of the various state bars, if you have not already done so, and to obtain all the necessary application materials early. For general information, visit American Bar Association or National Conference of Bar Examiners. For information on New York Bar Exam requirements, visit NY Bar exam.
Bar applications normally include a Certificate of Attendance that must be completed by your law school(s). Generally, if you are graduating in May and are planning to take the July bar exam, the Law School Certificate of Attendance will be due to the various state offices early in June.
Important: All requests for bar certification (i.e., requests for the Law School to complete your “Law School Certificate of Attendance”) must be submitted to the Office of Registration Services in a timely fashion (between April 1 and April 30 for the July bar, and by November 30 for the February bar). The bar certification request in the only indicator we will have that you intend to sit for a bar examination and need the School’s certification of your attendance and degree.
Massachusetts Bar Exam: One notable exception to the June certification date is Massachusetts, which requires that the school certification be submitted with all other applicant documentation in one complete package. If you are planning on taking the Massachusetts bar examination, please make certain to submit the school certification form to Registration Services as early as possible so that it can be completed upon your graduation and returned to you in time to meet the submission deadline.
Important Note for LL.M.s: Although some Law School Certificates of Attendance may state that the form “should only be completed for J.D. graduates of law schools in the United States,” it is required of all bar applicants, and thus must be completed by LL.M. students planning to sit for the bar exam.
Transcripts for Bar Applications: The Law School’s Office of Registration Services is authorized to forward an official copy of your Columbia University transcript to the various state bar organizations. We will obtain an official copy of your transcript from the University Registrar and will forward it to the appropriate office; you do not need to make a separate request.
Handwriting Sample: The Law School’s Office of Registration Services is authorized to certify handwriting samples for bar applications that have this requirement (e.g., New York State). This part of your bar application must be completed in the presence of a member of that Office. Registration Services holds Handwriting Sample Certification events in March and April of each year (graduating students will be notified via email of dates, times, and locations). If you are unable to attend one of these events, please make arrangements directly with Registration Services (212-854-2668 or firstname.lastname@example.org).
Fingerprinting: Some states require applicants for admission to the bar to provide their fingerprints. Check your state’s bar requirements. You may be able to arrange for fingerprinting on campus by contacting Columbia’s Department of Public Safety at 212-854-2797.
The New York State Bar Examination: NOTE DEADLINES
Visit NY Bar Exam for detailed information on the New York State bar examination application and requirements, MBE score transfer requests, MPRE scores, and to download application materials. We encourage you to obtain and carefully review the application materials as early as possible and make careful note of the New York State Board of Law Examiners (BOLE) filing deadlines. You may apply online or file a paper application.
Submit your “Law School Certificate of Attendance” to Registration Services by April 30 – this is the only indicator that we will have that you intend to take the New York bar exam in July and will need the Law School to certify your eligibility to sit for the examination.
- Application Filing Deadline. Applications for the July bar examination must be filed with the NYS BOLE between April 1 and April 30. Applications for the February examination must be filed between November 1 and November 30. The filing deadlines will not change from year to year.
- Date of Receipt and Not Postmark Date Will Determine Timely Filing. The Board will not accept a postmark as the method to determine timely filing. All applications and supporting documentation (i.e. – bar examination applications and re-applications, ADA test accommodations applications and re-applications, eligibility proofs, handwriting specimens, etc.) must be received in the Board’s office on or before the filing period deadline.
- Deadline for Proof of Eligibility and Handwriting Specimen. Pursuant to revised Board Rule 6000.2(b) and (c), as explained in further detail at the New York Bar Exam website, all eligibility proofs, transcripts and handwriting specimens must be received in the Board’s office by the following deadlines:
Deadline for Proof of Eligibility
These deadlines will, of necessity, be strictly enforced. Candidates whose proofs are not received by the applicable deadline will not be permitted to sit for that bar examination.
- Applications for Test Accommodations. The Board’s application, instructions, and documentation guidelines for candidates requesting test accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act are available for download from the Board’s website at www.nybarexam.org/forms/forms.htm. Note that the Board no longer accepts a postmark date as the method for timely filing of documents; rather, applications for test accommodations must be received in the Board’s office no later than November 30 for the February examination and April 30 for the July examination. Also, the Board’s rule for appealing the denial of accommodations has been modified. Pursuant to Board Rule 6000.4(e), the appeal may not present any new diagnosis or disability that was not discussed in the candidate’s application, nor may any additional documentation that was not originally provided with the application be offered on the appeal. Appeals must be received at the Board's office no later than 14 days from the date of the Board’s determination.
Law School Certificate of Attendance: The “Law School Certificate of Attendance Form” is the only indicator we will have that you need the Law School to certify your eligibility to take the bar exam, so please submit the form promptly, and by April 30 at the latest if you plan on taking the July bar exam. You should make certain to partially complete the form (only the name of the law school, your name, and your SSN are required) and submit it to Registration Services as early as possible (by April 30 for the July bar and by November 30 for the February bar). You do not need to complete your dates of attendance because we will forward your official transcript to the NYS BOLE once you have graduated from the Law School. If you spent your first year of law school at another institution, please attach a note to your Certificate and include the name of your other law school.
Important Note for LL.M.s: Although the New York State Bar Exam “Law School Certificate of Attendance” indicates that the form “does not apply to applicants who obtained their first degree in law outside the United States,” it is required of all applicants who wish to take the New York State bar examination, and thus must be completed by LL.M. students as well.
Transcripts: The Law School’s Office of Registration Services is authorized to forward an official copy of your Columbia University transcript to the NYS BOLE. We will obtain an official copy of your transcript from the University Registrar and will forward it to the appropriate office; you do not need to make a separate request.
If you spent your first year of law school at an institution other than Columbia, or if you spent a term or an academic year as a visitor at another U.S. law school, the New York State Board of Bar Examiners requires that an official transcript from your other law school be submitted to them along with your Columbia University transcript. Therefore, please make certain that we have on file at least two (2) original official copies of the transcript from your other law school. We may have written to you already in regard to this matter, but if you have any questions e-mail us at email@example.com with the subject heading “Transcript Inquiry.”
Handwriting Sample: The Law School’s Office of Registration Services is authorized to certify handwriting samples for bar applications that have this requirement (e.g., New York State). This part of your bar application must be completed in the presence of a member of that Office. Registration Services holds Handwriting Sample Certification events in March and April of each year (graduating students will be notified via email of dates, times, and locations). If you are unable to attend one of these events, please make arrangements directly with Registration Services (212.854.2668 or firstname.lastname@example.org). The deadline for receipt of your handwriting sample by the NYS BOLE is June 15 for the July examination, and February 1 for the February examination.
New Pro Bono Requirement: Under the New York State Pro Bono requirements, persons who are admitted to the New York State bar after January 1st, 2015 will need to file an affidavit showing that they have performed fifty hours of pro bono service, even if they apply for admission before January 1, 2015. For more information, please visit the Social Justice Initiatives Pro Bono information page.
Character and Fitness Certification
Character and Fitness Certification forms are completed by Registration Services. Send your forms to Registration Services at the address listed above.
The New York Lawyer Assistance Trust has prepared a brochure regarding the character and fitness requirements for admission to the practice of law in New York State.