New York Bar Exam for Foreign Attorneys

Each year, thousands of foreign attorneys attempt to pass the New York State Bar Exam, but only about a third ultimately succeed. In contrast, the overall pass rate is about 78 percent for all test takers, and is over 86 percent for graduates of law schools in New York. Accordingly, foreign applicants must do all they can to prepare for the exam in order to maximize their chances of success.

Requirements for New York Bar

The first step for smooth passage of the New York Bar Exam for foreign attorneys is to complete all of the administrative requirements set forth by the New York State Board of Bar Examiners. The NYSBBE has established a fairly complex set of rules regarding foreign applicants, which can be found here. These instructions should be reviewed carefully and in full. Foreign applicants should be aware of important advanced deadlines, documentation requirements, sufficiency of various educational credentials, and other related matters. Often, schools offering LLMs to foreign students will provide some assistance to graduates to ensure that these requirements are met.

The Benefits of an LLM in U.S. Law

There are also many other ways in which an LLM in U.S. Law is the ideal preparation for meeting the rigorous demands of the New York Bar Exam for foreign attorneys.  An LLM in U.S. Law gives foreign practitioners critical knowledge and skills regarding the U.S. legal system and common U.S. practice areas. It also gives students the opportunity to develop and sharpen their spoken and written English language abilities, especially as both pertain to the practice of law in the U.S.

Knowledge of the American Legal System

For practitioners from countries in which civil law is the prevailing legal system, deep study of the common law system in the U.S. is a must. In civil law systems, laws are codified, and code is the primary source of legal authority. In the U.S., on the other hand, a common law system adds judicial opinions as a major source of authority, in addition to some codified law. Understanding how to research and provide guidance in a common law framework is critical to practicing law in American jurisdictions such as New York, and can be helpful in structuring the written portion of the NYSBE. This is because, while much of bar study involves rote memorization of legal standards, written applicant responses on the exam itself require rhetorical devices and structuring that one will find repeated throughout many judicial opinions.

Understanding Core Topics in U.S. Law

In addition, an LLM in U.S. Law can help foreign students better understand foundational topics in American law. For foreign practitioners that have been focused on a particularly narrow topic area in their work, this understanding is especially important. Knowledge of basic topics like civil and criminal procedure, constitutional law, contracts, evidence, family law, professional responsibility, real property, torts, the UCC, and others, are all required for passage of the New York Bar Exam for foreign attorneys. An LLM in U.S. law gives students a chance to digest these topics at a pace that leads to understanding and retention, and that ultimately is excellent preparation for bar study and bar passage.

Sharpening English Language Skills

Another major benefit of obtaining an LLM in U.S. Law is the chance to develop English language skills. Many schools offer intensive programs prior to the LLM course of study itself, and students can become better speakers and writers in the legal context by participating in such programs. Moreover, the opportunity to absorb U.S. legal vocabulary and practice American legal writing both serve to provide students with a skill base that can greatly increase comfort with taking the bar exam.

All things considered, an LLM in U.S. Law is in many ways the ideal preparation for the New York Bar Exam for foreign attorneys.

Those seeking more information from an official source can access the website of the New York State Board of Bar Examiners here.

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