Information & Applications » Motion » Information for Admission by Motion Applicants
General Description of Qualifications for Admission by Motion 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. Admission by motion, effective September 1, 2016, removes only the requirement that certain applicants take and pass the New Jersey bar examination. All applicants, whether by motion or by exam, must still be certified by the Committee on Character and meet all other criteria for admission.
Applicants for admission to the New Jersey bar by motion must
- hold a juris doctor degree from an ABA accredited law school;
- demonstrate fitness and character to practice law;
- 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;
- have practiced for five of the last seven years in another jurisdiction;
- have previously passed a bar examination in another jurisdiction;
- be admitted and in good standing in a jurisdiction that would extend a reciprocal license by motion to New Jersey lawyers; and
- complete a course(s) on New Jersey ethics and professionalism as a condition precedent to admission.
A. Required Actions
The admission by motion application is available on-line. The following must be submitted as part of the initial application:
The fee for admission by motion is $1,500. Application fees are non-refundable.
Once you submit your on-line character questionnaire, an “Upload” button will appear on the lower right hand side of your User Home Page. After this is completed, applicants must upload:
- Application form, must be submitted online
- Character questionnaire (must be SUBMITTED on-line)
- Payment by credit card can be made on-line at the time of submission of the Character Questionnaire.
Payment by certified check or money order, made payable to the Secretary, Board of Bar Examiners. If paying other than with a credit card, the applicant must include a non-refundable cashier's check or money order to the Non-credit Card Payment Form (on User Homepage). Payment received without this form will be returned.
- Payment by credit card can be made on-line at the time of submission of the Character Questionnaire.
- Authorization and Release form signed, notarized and uploaded
Once items 1 through 4 above are submitted, your application will be acknowledged and you will receive additional information regarding the next steps in the process. In addition, all applicants must:
- Be fingerprinted;
- Upload appropriate driver’s abstracts;
- Upload the Certification of Course(s) on New Jersey Ethics and Professionalism, including a copy of the course certification, available on your User Home Page;
- Upload the Certification of Prior Practice Form, available on your User Home Page;
- Upload the Certification of Admission by Examination form, available on your User Home Page (sent to the jurisdiction and then to the Board of Bar Examiners by the jurisdiction);
- Provide a law school certificate (sent to the law school by the applicant and then to the Board of Bar Examiners by the law school), available on User Home Page;
- Upload certificates of good standing for all jurisdictions to which you have ever been admitted (or, if the applicant has resigned the license or been administratively revoked, a letter indicating such from the jurisdiction); and
- Upload a disciplinary history from each jurisdiction in which you have ever been admitted. Please note that this is not the same document as a certificate of good standing. Links to disciplinary offices can be found on the website under the Information tab/Disciplinary Contacts.
Finally, applicants must upload applicant specific documentation as indicated in the Character Questionnaire. These documents include police reports, court records, etc., as required when responding positively to questions on the character questionnaire. Once an application has been acknowledged, the applicant will have sixty (60) days to submit ALL supplemental documentation and complete all other requirements, such as being fingerprinted. Failure to do so will result in the application being abandoned. Applicants who are abandoned will need to resubmit an application AND payment.
B. 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 Character Questionnaire. The Committee on Character reviews and verifies the information in the Character Questionnaire. 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. 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 character questionnaire 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 Information tab.
You have a continuing obligation to supplement the information on your character questionnaire to keep it current and accurate until the date of your admission to the bar of New Jersey. The questionnaire can be amended by logging in to your User Home Page and selecting the option to Amend your application.
C. 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.
D. 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 sworn-in 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 may be 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.
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 form 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 form signed. Oath forms will be provided to eligible candidates.
NOTE: Applicants must be certified to be eligible to be sworn in. Once all requirements are met, notification will be posted to your User Home Page. This notification will include a link to the oath form. Applicants may not be sworn in until this is posted to the User Home Page.
E. POST-ADMISSION RESPONSIBILITIES
1. 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.
Newly admitted attorneys will receive information for online registration in the initial packet sent by the Board of Bar Examiners after being admitted. Registration is required annually. It is important to read all questions carefully and contact the Fund for Client Protection with specific questions.
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).
F. 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.
G. 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.
H. Change of Name
Attorneys who change their names after admission to practice in this State shall file a certification form 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. This form is located under the Other Forms tab on the web site. Attorneys may request a new Certificate of Good Standing or wall license by submitting the appropriate forms, available under the Other Forms tab on the website, and the appropriate fee. See Rule 1:29.
I. 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
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 submitting the request form, located under the Other Forms tab on the web site, and fee to the 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.