Bar Admissions and Preparation Information for Foreign-Trained Lawyers

llm studentsBar Preparation

The University of Miami School of Law offers seminars and workshops on bar preparation for all students including programs specifically designed for foreign-trained lawyers. In addition, Miami Law’s academic advisors meet one-on-one with students and advise them on everything from transferring to the J.D. to choosing the necessary courses to fulfil the requirements for admission to take their desired U.S. Bar Exam.

Practice in the U.S. - LL.M. Program or Transfer to a J.D. Degree Program

If an international law student or lawyer's long-term goal is to practice law in Florida or the U.S, he or she should consider doing one of the joint LL.M. + J.D. programs at University of Miami School of Law. Options include:

J.D./LL.M. in International Law
J.D./LL.M. in Maritime Law
J.D./LL.M. in International Arbitration
J.D./LL.M.+ Intensive Legal English
J.D./LL.M. in Real Estate/Property Development
J.D./LL.M. in Taxation
J.D./LL.M. in Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law

As discussed below, some jurisdictions also permit foreign-trained attorneys to take a bar exam without a J.D. degree. The University of Miami School of Law offers its students individualized advice on these options in planning the best road to admission to practice in the United States.

Bar Admissions by State

In the United States, law graduates are required to take a bar exam in order to practice law. Bar admission is regulated by each of the 50 U.S. states, and each state has complete discretion in the process. Some states permit foreign lawyers with a LL.M. degree to take the bar exam and be admitted to practice.

New York

New York is a commonly selected jurisdiction which does permit foreign applications with only an LL.M. degree. Each year a group of University of Miami LL.M. graduates sit for the New York Bar Exam. The requirements for foreign-educated LL.M. students to seek admission to the New York Bar are complex, and depend upon the particular background and circumstances of each applicant. Additionally, a student’s course of study in the LL.M. program must adhere to certain guidelines (i.e., one must earn a specified minimum number of credits, and take particular courses while in the LL.M program). If an international student intends to seek admission to the New York bar following completion of an LL.M program, he or she should carefully read the New York State Board of Law Examiners Guide for Foreign Educated Students. Also required is completion of New York State’s online Foreign Evaluation Form.  

Florida

As part of a 2022 Florida Supreme Court rule change, attorneys with an LL.M. from a U.S. law school may be qualified to take the Florida Bar Exam. Individuals can qualify for this option if they: (1) complete a qualifying LL.M. at an ABA-accredited law school in the U.S., (2) are admitted to practice in another U.S. jurisdiction, (3) have practiced law for at least two years in a U.S. jurisdiction, and (4) meet other miscellaneous requirements. There are many complex factors to consider when choosing this route, and the University of Miami School of Law helps it students identify if this method of qualifying for the Florida exam is best.

Additionally, some foreign-trained lawyers become certified under a special Foreign Legal Consultancy (FLC) rule, which only allows them to counsel clients on the laws of their country of origin (and prior bar admission). However, the FLC rule does not seem to lead to broad job opportunities in Florida. If a foreign lawyer’s long-term goal is to practice law in Florida, he or she should consider Miami Law’s J.D. or LL.M. programs.  If interested, please visit the joint J.D./LL.M. page.

Other States

Other states such as Texas, Louisiana, Tennessee, and California may also permit foreign-educated attorneys to take the bar exam following completion of an LL.M. program in the United States. For a state-by-state analysis, please view the Comprehensive Guide to Bar Admission


Additional Helpful Bar Exam Links