There are four steps that you must take to sit for and be accepted into the CA Bar: Registering, Completing the Moral Character Application, Applying, and Passing the MPRE
1. Registering for the California Bar
You must register as a law student if you intend to take the California Bar Exam upon graduation. The Bar strongly suggests you register as a 1L. You must register before you apply to take the Bar. See the Bar website for information: http://www.calbar.ca.gov/. You must use your registration number on all subsequent applications and correspondence with the Bar. If you are a transfer or visiting student who had decided to take the California Bar, you must register before filing an application or completing the Application for Determination of Moral Character. If you have already registered and used the name of your prior school, you should continue to use the same registration number.
If, beginning in your second year of law shool, you would like to participate in Practical Training as a law student, you must register with the California State Bar even if you do not intend to practice law in California upon graduation.
2. Completing the Moral Character Application
Some helpful hints regarding the Application for Determination of Moral Character are:
- You must file an Application for Determination of Moral Character.
- The Office of the Registrar recommends you complete the “Moral Character and Fitness” eight to 10 months prior to the date you would like to be admitted to practice law. Usually no later than the winter of your third year if you are planning to take the July bar exam.
- Don’t procrastinate! These forms are available year round at the Bar website: http://www.calbar.ca.gov/. You will not be sworn into practice law until after your application has been cleared.
- It’s expensive!
- A favorable determination is valid for three years which means you should plan to complete the bar exam and be sworn in within that time. If you are not sworn in within the three years you can apply for an extension.
- The California Bar requires applicants in California to submit their fingerprints through Live Scan computer scanning process. The Bar’s Moral Character Determination Application instructions include Live Scan information.
The Determination of Moral Character is the most extensive of the bar applications. It requests detailed information from as far back as high school. An applicant is generally cleared when the state bar receives a fingerprint clearance, a DMV clearance, positive references (confidential questionnaires) from friends and employers as well as certificates of good standing from the law school (Office of the Registrar).
An applicant not meeting the prerequisites may still be cleared although further investigation may be required.
3. Applying – The Bar Exam Application
Third-year students must file a Bar Exam Application before taking the bar exam. The application is available online through the Bar web site.
After the California Bar determines your eligibility to sit for this exam, they will mail a Law School Certificate to the Office of the Registrar for verification.
Certification by the Registrar involves confirming that you have been awarded the J.D. degree. Graduating students are certified after all grades are received for their final semester, i.e., in January for the February bar and in June for the July bar.
4. Passing the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE)
California requires passage of the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE) before you can be admitted to the bar. The MPRE is administered three times a year: in March, August and November. Students are eligible to take the exam during their second or third year. For registration and deadlines go to: http://www.ncbex.org/exams/mpre/registration/
Further Information for Students With Disabilities
Students with physical learning and/or chronic medical disabilities may request to take the any state bar exam with accommodations. This request must be made well in advance of the exam. Contact the bar for deadlines and requirements. See Kyle Valenti (280 Simon Hall, 510-642-3263) for assistance with completing the required documentation.
About the Actual California Bar Exam
The Bar Exam has three parts: five essay questions, the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) and one performance test. The California bar may involve issues from the subjects listed below:
*The Multistate Bar Exam (MBE) tests the six subjects marked by an asterisk above. (The majority of states include the MBE as a component of their examination. It consists of a six-hour test comprised of 200 multiple-choice questions.)
Some of the above topics are required courses and some are elective:
- Civil Procedure (required, first year)
- California Marital Property (elective)
- Constitutional Law (required)
- Contracts (required, first year)
- Business Associations (elective)
- Criminal Law (required, first year)
- Criminal Procedure (elective)
- Evidence (elective)
- Professional Responsibility (required)
- Real Property (Property, required first year)
- Remedies (elective)
- Torts (required, first year)
- Wills and Trusts (we call it Estates and Trusts, elective)
Out-of-State Bar Information
If you are taking the bar in a state other than California, please complete your application early and to submit the Law School Declaration to the Registrar’s Office before you take the bar. Most states have a deadline by which the Registrar must submit this form. Therefore, please submit your form or forms to the Registrar’s Office as early as possible so we have enough time to confirm your degree and meet the deadline. Also be sure to submit any other forms or information your bar will need, e.g. the handwriting sample required by New York (New York Bar).