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 for admission to practice law. 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.
Submit your forms to the Registration Services Office in 500 William & June Warren Hall, or send to:
Office of Registration Services
Columbia Law School
435 West 116th Street
New York, NY 10027
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. All law students and graduates are encouraged to review it carefully and to contact the Law School’s Dean of Students if they need to discuss issues related to their admission to practice law.
Bar Exam Applications
We urge you to familiarize yourself with the requirements of the various state bars as early as possible and to obtain all the necessary application materials for your bar examination administration date as soon as they are available. 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) and sent to the state Board of Law Examiners (BOLE). 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; for the February bar exam, the Certificate of Attendance is due by February 1. The Certification of Attendance form is the only indicator your law school(s) will have that you intend to sit for a bar examination and need the school’s certification of your attendance and degree. Some states have application processes with submission dates different from those on the chart below but, in general, the deadlines for bar application materials are the same.
NOTE: 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.
Application and Document Submission Dates for July and February Bar Exams
Bar Exam Date
Application Period (strict deadlines)
Submit Certificate of Attendance to Registration Services
By January 1
Deadline for School Certification & Handwriting Sample to be Received by State BOLE (strict deadlines)
Massachusetts Bar Exam: One notable exception to the school certification deadlines listed above 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 the Law School’s Office of Registration Services as early as possible so that it can be completed upon your graduation and returned to you in time to meet the state’s submission deadline.
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 if an official transcript is required. 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 sessions in 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 sessions, please make arrangements directly with Registration Services (212-854-2668 or firstname.lastname@example.org). Alternatively, you can arrange to send a notarized Handwriting Sample directly to the bar examiners by their stated deadline.
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 to arrange an appointment. Information is available at http://www.columbia.edu/cu/publicsafety/
The New York State Bar Examination: NOTE STRICT DEADLINES
Visit NY Bar Exam for detailed information on the New York State bar examination application and requirements, the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE), the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE), 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 NY State Board of Law Examiners (NYS BOLE) filing deadlines as there are no provisions for late filing. See chart above for the filing deadlines and review the additional information for the New York State bar exam below.
- 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 (e.g., completed Certificate of Attendance), transcripts and handwriting specimens must be received in the Board’s office by the following deadlines:
Deadline for Proof of Eligibility
February 1 (Submit Law School Bar certification form to Registration Services by January 1)
June 15 (Submit Law School Bar ceritification form to Registration Services by mid-May)
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. To ensure timely submission to the Board, make sure that the Law School’s Office of Registration Services has forms requiring certification by January 1 for the February exam and by mid-May for the July exam.
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.
IMPORTANT for J.D. CANDIDATES: The Certificate of Attendance for J.D. candidates requires applicants to answer specific questions about the number of credits they completed in various types of offerings, including clinical coursework, field placement programs, joint degree courses, study of law in a foreign country (i.e., term or year study abroad as a Columbia Law School student), etc. Please review your transcript before completing this form. We recommend that you begin your bar exam application very early in April for the July exam (very early in November for the February exam). The Law School must submit the Certificate of Attendance directly to NYS BOLE in time for it to be received by no later than February 1 for the February examination and no later than June 15 for the July examination. Therefore, you must submit the completed form to the Law School’s Office of Registration Services by mid-May for the July exam, or by January 1 for the February exam.
NOTE: J.D. applicants whose degree will not have been conferred prior to the July bar exam date may still be eligible to take the July exam if they have completed all degree requirements and have grades recorded by June 1. Their eligibility to sit for the bar will be based on degree completion, and their degree will be conferred in October.
IMPORTANT for LL.M. CANDIDATES: The LL.M. Certificate of Attendance Form must be completed by foreign-educated applicants for the New York State bar exam who are required to successfully complete an LL.M. degree at an ABA-approved law school in the United States in compliance with Section 520.6(b)(3) of the Rules of the Court of Appeals for the Admission of Attorneys and Counselors at Law. Check the NYS BOLE requirements to determine if you need to submit this form. An applicant must submit the completed form to his or her ABA-approved law school for certification by an authorized official. The law school must submit this certified form and an original transcript showing the conferral of the LL.M. degree directly to the Board in time for it to be received by NYS BOLE by not later than February 1 for the February examination and no later than June 15 for the July examination. Therefore, you must submit the completed form to the Law School’s Office of Registration Services by mid-May for the July exam or by January 1 for the February exam. If you have any questions about completing the form, please address them to the Law School’s Office of Graduate Legal Studies before submitting the completed Certificate of Attendance form to Registration Services.
NOTE: LL.M. applicants must have the degree conferred in order to be eligible to take the New York State bar exam.
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. Submit your Law School Certificate of Attendance to Registration Services by mid-May if you apply to take the July bar exam and by January 1 if you apply to take the February bar exam. Again, this is the only indicator that we will have that you intend to take the New York bar exam and will need the Law School to certify your eligibility to sit for the examination.
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 if required. 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. A final official transcript showing the conferral of the degree is required for all LL.M. applicants for the NY bar exam. NYS BOLE also may request final transcripts for some J.D. applicants. Contact the University Registrar if you need to request an official copy of your transcript
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 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 email@example.com). Alternatively, you can arrange to send a notarized Handwriting Sample directly to the bar examiners by their stated deadline. The deadline for receipt of your handwriting sample and your Certification of Attendance 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.
Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE)
The Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) is a 60-question multiple-choice examination administered three times each year. A passing score on the test is required for admission to the bars of all but three U.S. jurisdictions. Passing scores are established by each jurisdiction. Applicants are advised to contact the jurisdictions directly for the most current information regarding passing scores, rules, and policies. If you have questions regarding the MPRE, please visit http://www.ncbex.org/ or contact LSAC at 215-504-3886 or at MPREinfo@LSAC.org.