Information For Bar Exam Applicants
I. General Description of Qualifications for Admission to the New Jersey Bar
The Supreme Court has exclusive authority to determine who is qualified to practice law in New Jersey and what admission procedure will be used. Only a member of the New Jersey Bar may practice law in this State. To be admitted to the New Jersey Bar one must:
1. qualify for and pass the New Jersey bar examination or apply using a qualifying Uniform Bar Examination (UBE) score, or qualify and apply for admission by motion;
2. receive a Certification of Character;
3. pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) with a 75 or higher or pass an approved law school course on ethics with a "C-" or better;
4. and take the Oath of Admission and sign the attorney's roll.
All attorneys with a full plenary license are admitted to the New Jersey Bar in the manner outlined above. The only exceptions, set out by the rules of the Supreme Court, are for a fulltime faculty member of a New Jersey law school or a qualifying military spouse. See Rules 1:27-2 and 1:27-4. Motion applicants have additional requirements that must be fulfilled before admission can occur.
To sit for the New Jersey bar examination, candidates must:
1. be at least 18 years of age,
2. have earned a Juris Doctor from an ABA accredited law school, and
3. be in good standing in all jurisdictions to which they have been admitted (or have resigned or been administratively revoked).
II. New Jersey Bar Examination
The Supreme Court adopted the Uniform Bar Examination (UBE) effective with the February 2017 bar examination. The UBE is a standardized test drafted by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE), and is uniformly administered, graded, and scored in participating jurisdictions. The UBE consists of three components: the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE), a multiple choice exam; the Multistate Essay Examination, comprised of six essay questions testing law of general application; and the Multistate Performance Test, comprised of two writing tasks designed to test practical lawyering skills. Applicants who take the UBE earn a portable score that can be transferred to other UBE jurisdictions.
Applicants must take all three portions of the UBE in the same jurisdiction to earn a portable UBE score. The UBE is administered on the last Tuesday and Wednesday of February and July. The test is administered as follows:
7:30 am – 9:00 am Registration and seat check in
9:00 am – 9:30 am Instructions
9:30 am – 12:30 pm MPT
12:30 pm – 1:30 pm Break – one hour
1:30 pm – 2:00 pm Instructions (applicants must be seated for instructions)
2:00 pm – 5:00 pm MEE
7:30 am – 9:00 am Registration and seat check in
9:00 am – 9:30 am Instructions
9:30 am – 12:30 pm MBE morning session – 100 questions
12:30 pm – 1:30 pm Break – one hour
1:30 pm – 2:00 pm Instructions (applicants must be seated for instructions)
2:00 pm – 5:00 pm MBE afternoon session – 100 questions
III. Application Procedures
In order to apply to sit for the New Jersey Bar Examination, applicants must:
1. Complete the online application questionnaire
2. Complete the online character questionnaire
3. Submit payment, either online via credit card or via "paper" payment
4. Upload a signed and notarized Authorization and Release form
Once all four of the steps above have been completed, your case file manager will acknowledge your application. Your acknowledgement, which will be posted to your User Home Page, will contain additional information and instructions.
A. Starting the process. Applicants must create an account on-line. The link to register/log in is located on the top right hand side of the home page of the web site. Once you have registered, you will receive an activation email from firstname.lastname@example.org. Make sure you check your spam folder and/or permit emails from njbarexams.org. After you have activated your account and if the application period has been opened, you can begin an application.
B. Character Questionnaire. The questionnaire must be completed and submitted. Applicants will not be able to submit the questionnaire until all sections are complete. Do not leave gaps in employment or addresses. If you are unemployed for a period of time, such as while attending law school, include an entry for that time which states that you were unemployed and the reason you were unemployed.
Make sure to provide all supplemental documentation (see instructions regarding Supplemental Documentation) after you have submitted your questionnaire. An Upload button will be displayed after you have successfully submitted your questionnaire. This button is used to upload documents directly to your User account. Do not send a paper copy of your questionnaire.
You are required to amend your Certified Statement within 30 days of any change to the information provided. This requirement remains in effect until you are admitted or withdraw, or until you are abandoned. To amend your application, go to your User Home Page and select "Amend Application." Click on Character & Fitness Questionnaire under Forms & Progress, edit as needed, and click on "Submit Addendum" on the User Home Page.
You must press "Submit" in order to submit your application. A red exclamation mark (!) indicates that problems exist with your application. Click on the "!" to view the problems.
Payments. Payments can be made via credit card when the character questionnaire is submitted OR with a money order or certified check or cashier's check. If paying via "paper," you must attach payment to the Non-credit Card Payments form, which is available on the User Home Page. Payments are non-refundable.
WE DO NOT ACCEPT personal checks, Travelers' checks, American Express or Discover. We cannot accept any foreign instruments including personal checks, money orders, or other instruments, even if drawn against a US financial institution. If an application is submitted with the incorrect amount or an incorrect method of payment, the application will not be considered submitted until appropriate payment is received. The fees applicable at the time of a correct submission (amount and method) will be in effect.
After you submit your character questionnaire, you will be taken to the payment screen. Once you select a payment method (check or credit card) you will not be able to go back and change the payment method.
C. Fee schedule. The character questionnaire and payment must be submitted according to the schedule: If one or the other is not submitted by the due date, the next fee level will apply.
Bar Exam Applications Submission Deadlines
October 1 - October 31
March 1 - March 31
November 1 - November 15
April 1 - April 15
Final Deadline - No Exceptions
November 16 – November 30
April 16 – April 30
D. Candidates Requiring Testing Accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Candidates who, because of physical, learning or other disabilities, require testing accommodations when taking the bar examination must complete a written application. Forms and instructions are included on line and must be downloaded from the website. Completed applications for testing accommodations must be submitted by November 30th for the February examination and April 30th for the July examination.
E. Withdrawal from Bar Examination. Candidates who withdraw from an examination and wish to apply for a subsequent examination must submit a new application, along with the appropriate filing fee.
F. Acknowledgement. Your application will not be acknowledged until your application and character questionnaire are submitted online, payment is received, and your authorization and release form is uploaded.
IV. Qualifications for Admission to the Examination
Admission to the bar examination depends on the candidate presenting satisfactory evidence of the following qualifications:
- Age Candidates must be at least 18 years of age.
- Law School Education Candidates must have received a juris doctor degree -- or its equivalent -- from a law school that is approved by the American Bar Association. A Master of Laws degree from an ABA approved law school is not an acceptable substitute when the J.D. degree was earned at a non-accredited law school. Graduates of non-ABA approved law schools are not eligible to sit for the bar examination.
- Good Standing Candidates must be in good standing in every jurisdiction in which they were ever admitted to practice law. If you are admitted to the bar in other jurisdictions, you must submit a Certificate of Good Standing from each jurisdiction (or, if you have resigned or been administratively revoked, a letter from that jurisdiction indicating your status). The Certificate must have been issued within six months of the date of the submission of your New Jersey bar application. You must also supply a certificate of disciplinary history from the appropriate grievance or disciplinary board as to whether there is now or has ever been any disciplinary action taken against you in any jurisdiction to which you have ever been admitted. A list of disciplinary offices is available on our website.
- Relaxation of Qualification. The Supreme Court does not generally grant relaxation of qualifications for admission to a bar examination. However, the information to petition for a relaxation can be found on our website under FAQs. See Rule 1:1-2 available on our website.
V. Requirements for Passing the Bar Examination
Candidates for admission to the bar of the State of New Jersey must take the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE), Multistate Essay Examination consisting of six (6) essay questions, and the Multistate Performance Test (MPT) consisting of two (2) questions, contemporaneously. The MEE and MPT are graded on a seven-point (0-1-2-3-4-5-6) standard. Applicants must attain a combined total of 266 points or greater to pass the examination. The MBE portion of the examination constitutes 50% of the score, the MEE 30% and the MPT 20%.
PHASE I (BAR EXAMINERS AND READERS)
Combined MBE and Essay Score Phase I Result
272.0 and above Pass, no further review
260.0 to 271.9 Regrade
259.9 and below Fail, no further review
PHASE II (READERS)
Candidates whose essays are re-graded under Phase II will have all of their MEE and MPT questions regraded by different readers who will be unaware of the first grades. When the scores differ by one (1) or zero (0) points, the two grades for each answer are averaged.
PHASE III (BAR EXAMINERS)
Candidates whose essays have been re-graded under Phase II and who have had the readers from Phase I and II disagree by two or more points on any given question will have that question graded by the Bar Examiner responsible for that question. The Examiner's grade will be the final grade for that question. This "resolution" grade may not be below the lower grade or above the higher grade assigned by the readers in Phases I and II. Once all Phase III grading is completed, scores for all applicants who entered Phase II or III are recalculated. Applicants receiving a combined score of 266 or higher pass; a score lower than 266 is a failing score.
VI. Certification of Character
To practice law in the State of New Jersey, candidates are required to demonstrate their fitness by showing the requisite traits of honesty, integrity, fiscal responsibility, trustworthiness, and a professional commitment to the judicial process and the administration of justice.
Established pursuant to Rule 1:25, the Committee on Character reviews the personal record and reputation of each candidate for admission to the bar of the State of New Jersey to determine fitness to practice law. Each candidate must file a Certified Statement of Candidate. The Committee on Character reviews and verifies the information in the Statement of Candidate. The Committee on Character obtains credit history reports on all candidates.
The Board of Bar Examiners is authorized through the Supreme Court of New Jersey (2B:1-3) to obtain a criminal history check of all candidates through fingerprints submitted to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the New Jersey State Police. Each applicant must be fingerprinted for each exam. The fingerprints submitted by the applicants are processed through the New Jersey State Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for a criminal check.
As a part of the Character certification process, complete Driver's Abstracts must be submitted from each state in which the candidate has been licensed to drive within the last seven years. Candidates should start the process of obtaining Driver's Abstracts immediately. Contact the Division of Motor Vehicles in each state or jurisdiction (including foreign jurisdictions) where you have been licensed to drive over the past seven years and request the most complete abstract of your driving record that is available.
After reviewing the Certified Statement and other materials, the Committee either certifies a candidate or recommends the withholding of certification pursuant to the Regulations Governing the Committee on Character. These regulations can be found on our website under the "Examination" tab.
You have a continuing obligation to supplement the information on your Certified Statement of Candidate to keep it current and accurate until the date of your admission to the bar of New Jersey. The certified statement can be amended by logging in to your User Home Page and selecting the option to Amend your application.
VII. Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination
All candidates must demonstrate knowledge of the ethical obligations of the legal profession. This may be done by the successful completion of the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) prior to admission. A score of 75 has been set by the Board as the qualifying level. Candidates are encouraged to take the MPRE while in law school. In lieu of the MPRE, candidates may submit evidence in their Law School Certificate of successful completion at Law School of an approved course on professional ethics. To qualify, the course must be for credit (at least one credit hour), a minimum of nine classroom hours of instructions, and be devoted entirely to legal ethics and professional responsibility. Candidates must have received a grade of "C-" (or its equivalent) or higher.
VIII. Attorneys' Oaths and Signing the Attorneys' Roll
No one is admitted to the New Jersey Bar without signing the attorneys' roll and taking the oath to support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of New Jersey, the oath of allegiance to this State, and the oath of office as an attorney. An affirmation may be given in lieu of an oath. See R. 1:27-1(c) and (d).
Pursuant to Supreme Court R. 1:27-1(d), successful applicants from the bar examination must be swornin as an attorney-at-law of New Jersey no more than ninety (90) days after the date on which they have become eligible for the administration of the attorney's oath. The oaths are generally administered and the roll signed at public "swearing-in" ceremonies held within a month after the publication of the bar examination results. All those candidates present at the ceremony are moved for admission to the New Jersey Bar and to the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey. The date of the public "swearing-in" ceremonies will be the date of admission of new attorneys.
Candidates may elect to complete their admission by taking the oaths before any person authorized to administer oaths. Eligible candidates must take the oath within ninety days of the date of notification of their eligibility. The candidate must forward the completed signature card to the Clerk of the Supreme Court within thirty (30) days of the date the oath is administered. The effective date of mailed-in admissions will be the date on which the oath is taken and the card signed. Oath cards will be provided to eligible candidates.
IX. POST-ADMISSION RESPONSIBILITIES
A. Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection and Disciplinary Oversight Committee
Members of the New Jersey Bar are assessed annual fees to finance the Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection and the attorney discipline system. The amount of the assessment, and its allocation between the Fund and the disciplinary system, are determined by the Supreme Court of New Jersey each year. The Fund, created by the Supreme Court in 1969, is designed to provide reimbursement to clients who have incurred financial losses due to the dishonest conduct of their attorneys under Rule 1:28.
The other portion of the assessment goes to the Disciplinary Oversight Committee that provides support for such disciplinary functions as the Office of Attorney Ethics, including the Random Audit Program, the Disciplinary Review Board, and emoluments to the Secretaries of District Ethics and Fee Arbitration Committees.
Billing is done on a calendar year basis; there are no pro rata charges. Attorneys are not required to pay the annual assessment during the first calendar year of their admission regardless of how long or short the portion of that calendar year of admission may be. Under the current system there is a reduced assessment for the second calendar year of admission.
Exemptions from payment are limited to attorneys who are serving in the U.S. military, Peace Corps or VISTA. Members of the New Jersey Bar who live or work out-of-state are not exempt on that basis. Judges, government lawyers, law professors, and virtually all attorneys using their legal expertise, regardless of where they are located, are obligated to pay each year. Those who do not pay are declared ineligible to practice law by Order of the Supreme Court of New Jersey. Attorneys who are declared ineligible by reason of non-payment for seven or more years consecutively will be subject to having their licenses administratively revoked. Rule 1:28-2(c). The Ineligible List is published and distributed to all vicinages.
Within a few months of admission every attorney should receive the first of his or her annual billing cards. These cards contain requests for crucial information regarding an attorney's status in a variety of areas. It is important to read the billing statement carefully, make sure to sign where appropriate (for paper forms), and complete all parts of the billing statement. On line registration and payment is also available.
Click here for the Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection. For further details on the Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection, please write to PO Box 961, Trenton, New Jersey 08625-0961.
For the Disciplinary Oversight Committee, click here for the Disciplinary Review Board (address is PO Box 970, Trenton, New Jersey 08625-0970) or for the Office of Attorney Ethics (address is P.O. Box 963, Trenton, NJ 08625).
B. Continuing Legal Education (CLE) Requirements
Effective January 1, 2010, all lawyers holding a license to practice law in the State of New Jersey, whether plenary or limited, are required to participate in the mandatory continuing legal education program. Members of the bar of the State of New Jersey are required to maintain certain standards of professional competence throughout their careers. The Board on Continuing Legal Education was created and assigned the task of administering the Supreme Court's requirement, imposed pursuant to Rule 1:42 Continuing Legal Education.
The Board's Regulations, implementing the mandatory program, are intended to (a) guide lawyers in respect of their requirement; (b) assure the public that those lawyers licensed to practice law in New Jersey remain current in respect of the requisite knowledge and skills necessary to fulfill their professional responsibilities and obligations; and (c) improve the standards of the legal profession. Additional information can be found on the CLE website.
C. Disciplinary Rules
The Constitution of New Jersey provides that the Supreme Court shall govern the admission to the bar and the practice of law in this State. Accordingly, every attorney admitted to the bar is bound by the Code of Professional Responsibility of the American Bar Association, as adopted and modified by the Supreme Court. Every person intending to practice law in New Jersey should have these disciplinary rules, which are included in the Rules Governing the Courts of the State of New Jersey. The rules are published by Gann Law Books, 224 Market Street, Newark, New Jersey, and by the West Group, St. Paul, Minnesota, 55102. They may be found in any law library in New Jersey.
D. Change of Name
Attorneys who change their names after admission to practice in this State shall file a certification with the Board of Bar Examiners stating the name under which they were admitted, the new name, the facts pertaining to the change of name, and the name under which they wish to continue to practice.
E. Bar Association Membership
Membership in bar associations in New Jersey is entirely voluntary. Associations function at the State, county and local levels. A partial listing of statewide and federal associations appears below.
- New Jersey State Bar Association New Jersey Law Center One Constitution Square New Brunswick, NJ 08901-1500 (732) 249-5000
- Garden State Bar Association P.O. Box 2404 East Orange, NJ 07019
- Association of the Federal Bar of the State of New Jersey P.O. Box 172 West Allenhurst, NJ 07711 (732) 517-0727
- Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey, Inc. P.O. Box 25562 Newark, NJ 07102 (973) 645-2730
F. WHO MAY PRACTICE LAW
1. In General
To practice law in the State of New Jersey, a person must (1) have been admitted to the New Jersey Bar, (2) be a member of the bar in good standing, (3) maintain a bona fide office, (4) be current with all Continuing Legal Education, (5) be current with all annual assessment payments of the Disciplinary Oversight Committee and the Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection, see Rule 1:21-1(a) and (6) be in compliance with all requirements of the New Jersey IOLTA Program, see Rule 1:28A-1 and -2.
2. Appearance by Law School Graduates and Law Clerks Who Have Not Passed the Bar Examination
A law clerk or a graduate of a law school approved by the American Bar Association may, although he or she has not passed the bar examination, appear in any court for the purpose of answering the calendar call in any action in which his or her attorney or firm is the attorney of record. See Rule 1:21-3(a).
3. Appearance in Accordance with Special Programs Approved by the Supreme Court
a. Law Students and Graduates
A third year law student at, or graduate of, an approved law school may appear before any court or agency in accordance with a program approved by the Supreme Court on submission by such law school or by agencies authorized to do so by Rule 1:21-3. Participation by a law graduate is terminated upon the receipt of notification that they have been unsuccessful on the bar examination for the third time or after two years of employment following graduation, whichever occurs first.
b. Out-of-State Attorneys Employed by or Associated with an Approved New Jersey Legal Services Program
A graduate of an approved law school, who is a member of the bar of another state or of the District of Columbia and is employed by or associated with a legal services program approved by the Director of Legal Services of New Jersey, shall be permitted to practice, under the supervision of a member of the bar of this State, before all courts of this State in all cases in which they are associated with such legal services program, subject to certain conditions in Rule 1:21-3(c).
c. Appearances Pro Hac Vice
An attorney of any other jurisdiction, in good standing there, whether practicing law in such other jurisdiction as an individual, or a member or employee of a partnership, or an employee of a professional corporation authorized to practice law in such other jurisdictions, or an attorney admitted in this State, of good standing, who is not domiciled in this State and who does not maintain in this State a bona fide office for the practice of law, may, at the discretion of the court in which any matter is pending, be permitted, pro hac vice, to speak in such matter in the same manner as an attorney of this State. See Rule 1:21-2.
4. Real Party in Interest
Any person may appear to prosecute or defend an action in any court in New Jersey if he is a real party in interest to the action or the guardian of a real party in interest. See Rule 1:21-1(a).
Certificates of Good Standing
An attorney may obtain a certificate attesting to his or her good standing in the bar of the State of New Jersey by sending a written request to the Board of Bar Examiners and enclosing a check or money order for $10, payable to the Secretary, Board of Bar Examiners. Such a certificate will not be issued for an attorney on the Ineligible List of the Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection or IOLTA Fund. See Rule 1:29-1 and Rule 1:28A.
Subject to rules and regulations by the Board of Bar Examiners and the Committee on Character, and unless otherwise ordered by the Supreme Court, bar candidates' files are confidential. See Rule 1:23-3.