Bar Application Process Overview

The Bar application process requires attention to detail, researched history of domicile and work, and accurate reporting of all matters relating to academic records and encounters with the legal system. 

The primary purpose of the application and character and fitness screening before admission to a state bar is to protect the public. It is also intended to protect the legal profession's reputation. When you apply for bar admission, you will be asked to complete a character and fitness questionnaire. Reports of past incidents may lead to further inquiry. Candor is of the utmost importance when completing the bar application.

Open All Tabs
  • Beginning the Bar Application Process

    Beginning the Bar Application Process

    Whether you plan to take the Florida Bar or a bar of another state, your first step in the process should be learning about what steps are necessary to complete the application process. For more information on the Florida Bar, start here: Florida Board of Bar Examiners Website. For more information on the other bars, start here: Directory of Jurisdiction Bar Admission Agencies.

    In Florida and in some other jurisdictions, first-year students have an opportunity for early registration for admission to the Bar. In Florida, these student registrations are due in January and are filed with substantial savings in application fees. This is not an application that can be completed in one sitting; it may take weeks to draw together information from one’s personal history.

    Most state boards have a sample of the application for admission posted on their website. Start by reviewing the application itself and any accompanying checklists or guides.

    For Those Applying to the Florida Bar

    Certificate of Dean

    When you apply for admission to the Florida Bar, the bar will request a Certificate of Dean. To effectuate that process, you must check the box on the graduation application authorizing the School of Law to submit the Certificate of Dean.  Note that you will continue to get automatic reminders from the Flordia Board of Bar Examiners regarding the outstanding Certificate of Dean. Once you check the box on the graduation application you have done your part. The Law School will submit the form once your degree is conferred, during the summer after graduation.

    Amend your Florida Bar Application as Needed

    Once you apply you must submit any required amendments in the FBBE applicant portal in a timely manner. This means you must amend your application as soon as possible but not later than 30 days after any occurrence that changes or renders an answer on your application incomplete. This also includes internships, clinics, part-time jobs, changes in residence, arrests, or traffic citations.

    For Those Applying Outside Florida

    If you intend to apply to a jurisdiction outside of Florida, please check that state's website for application deadlines and procedures. The National Conference of Bar Examiner's Directory of State Bar Admission Agencies and Bar Examination Application Deadlines and Fees are helpful resources. However, you should still consult the individual state bar's website for the most accurate and up-to-date information.

    The Law Registrar's Office can complete state bar forms, including Dean's Certifications. Please email forms to lawreg@law.miami.edu.

  • Character and Fitness (i.e. Background Check)

    Character and Fitness (i.e. Background Check)

    Every jurisdiction requires bar applicants to meet the burden of showing they are of good moral character and otherwise fit to practice law. Issues that may concern a board of bar examiners may include prior unlawful conduct, academic misconduct, financial irresponsibility, neglect of deadlines or other professional obligations, or a history of untreated mental health or substance use disorders. Bar examiners may also compare your bar application to your law school application and/or your supporting bar admission materials. Admission may be delayed if there are any omissions or contradicting information among these documents.

    Typical issues include, but are not limited to, the following:

    • Failure to report academic probation/suspension at another institution
    • Failure to report disciplinary measures taken at another institution, including, but not limited to residence hall warnings, sanctions imposed such as requirements to take a course, pay a fine, write a paper, etc.
    • Failure to report "minor" events such as minor in possession, underage drinking, open container violations, etc.
    • Failure to report traffic offenses where the actual paid fine was in excess of $200
    • Failure to report termination from employment
    • Failure to report delinquent financial obligations
    • Failure to report incidents that occurred after the original law school application was filed

     

    You should review your law school application to ensure that all of the necessary disclosures were made initially. You can download a copy of your law school application from the LSAC website.

    If you need to amend your law school application, please follow these instructions. For additional information about the application process, including the applicable Law School Application Amendment Policy, please see "Amending Your School of Law Application" section below. 

    Investigate Yourself

    Regardless of which state bar you apply to, you should investigate yourself to make sure you report thorough and accurate information. You can check your own credit report, your own driving record, and, if you have a criminal history to report, review police reports and court records. For more information on how to investigate yourself, start here: Public Records Searches for Bar Applications Presentation and accompanying PPT slides.

    Please note, students only receive access to Public Records searches on Lexis Nexis after their first semester of law school. If a student has trouble or questions regarding searching for information, they may contact Pam Lucken, Reference Librarian, at plucken@law.miami.edu.

    Students should also contact their previous institution(s) to request copies of all documents in their student file. These documents will be crucial to ensure you have provided accurate and complete information regarding any previous student conduct violations, disciplinary matters, warnings, etc. on your law school and bar application.

  • First-Year Students

    First-Year Students

    After their first semester in law school, students should investigate the process for admission to the Bar including the character and fitness qualifications in the jurisdiction in which they plan to practice.

    In Florida, and in some other jurisdictions, first-year students have an opportunity for early registration for admission. In Florida, first-year student registrations are due in January and are filed with substantial savings in application fees. This may take some time to complete, so plan accordingly. It may take longer than expected to draw together information from your personal history.

    In order to learn about the application process, the following are helpful resources: The National Conference of Bar Examiner's Directory of State Bar Admission Agencies and Bar Examination Application Deadlines and Fees, as well as the Barbri Exam Digest.

  • Upper-Level Students

    Upper-Level Students

    Upper-level students should file their applications for admission to the Bar of their choice as early as possible. Third-year students who plan to seek admission to the Florida Bar should be aware of the application deadlines.

    If you are undecided about where to seek admission, please feel free to reach out to Dean Perez for guidance.

    LLM students should speak with their Program Director and also review the Bar Admissions Information for Foreign Lawyers.

  • Amending Your School of Law Application

    Amending Your School of Law Application

    All Miami Law students have a continuing obligation to update their applications with incidents that have occurred after filing the original application for admission to law school. In addition, you must make late disclosures if matters were not initially disclosed to the School of Law. There must be consistency between:

    1. Your Bar Application;
    2. Your Miami Law Application;
    3. What the Board discovers about you through their background check.

     

    During the fall of students’ 1L year, the School of Law holds a mandatory meeting regarding bar admission and character & fitness. Members of the Florida Board of Bar Examiners present information at the meeting, however attendance is mandatory for all students, regardless of the intended jurisdiction of practice. 

    Students have thirty (30) days from the date of the presentation to amend their law school application. Full candor is expected during this period so that all applications are fully, accurately, and completely updated, and all disclosures are current. All amendments are reviewed both by the Dean of Students and the Dean of Admissions.

    Students also have an ongoing obligation to update their application until the time of bar admission should subsequent events occur which are required to be disclosed on the application to the School of Law. These amendments should be made within thirty (30) days of the incident or situation.   

    Law School Application Amendment Policy

    Under Section 1.03 (g) of the University of Miami Law School Honor Code, conduct that could subject a student to sanctions under the Code includes:

    Materially misrepresenting, by act of omission, one’s academic or professional qualifications, conduct, … on any document or in any oral statement, including but not limited to applications for admission to this or any law school or to any state bar….

    Any material misrepresentations in the law school application process would both be evaluated under the Miami Law Honor Code, and also by the Admissions Committee. Further, any student who fails to file a required amendment to their application to the School of Law within the thirty-day period set forth above will be referred to the Dean of Students. The failure to disclose will be handled pursuant to the Honor Code and documented as such for disclosure to state bar authorities.

    Law School Application Amendment Policy

    For further questions regarding this policy, contact the Dean of Students at deanofstudents@law.miami.edu

    For questions on how you amend your application, please click the link below

    How to Amend Your Law School Application

  • Disability-Related Accommodations for the Bar Exam

    Disability-Related Accommodations for the Bar Exam

    Each jurisdiction has its own requirements and deadlines for requesting testing accommodations for their respective bar exams. Be sure to make accommodations requests well in advance of the deadline of the state to which you plan to apply. For any questions or additional assistance related to obtaining accommodations for the bar exam, please email Jessie Howell, Director of Accessibility.

  • Specific State Bar Requirements

    Specific State Bar Requirements

    This information is provided as a courtesy and should be used as general guidance, but each student should complete their own research of the application requirements, deadlines, and other information related to the bar of their choice.

    Florida

    For students seeking admission to the Florida Bar, your first step should be to create an account online. Upon completion of your student registration, the Florida Bar will initiate a thorough investigation into your character and fitness to practice law.

    Carefully follow the instructions while completing the bar application

    Remember, you will be required to submit certain hard copy documents, including:

    New York

    New York is a Uniform Bar Examination (UBE) jurisdiction but also has additional requirements. These requirements are listed below:

    • Pass the bar exam
    • Pass the New York Law Exam (NYLE)

    It is important for J.D. students to note that the New York BOLE rules, Sec. 520(3), impose a 15-credit limit on online – “distance education” – coursework.  This is defined as courses in which more than one-third of the course instruction is online. Thus, hybrid courses where at least 2/3 of the instruction is in the classroom, and no more than 1/3 of the instruction is online, do not qualify as “distance education,” but would be considered to be regular “classroom” courses for purposes of this rule.

    However, for foreign-trained LL.M.s, the LL.M. Rule (Sec. 520(6)) is more restrictive.  The NY BOLE does not allow credit for any online coursework.  The J.D. hybrid distinction does not apply to LL.M. applicants, and therefore LL.M. students who intend to seek admission to the NY BOLE should not enroll in courses that feature any online component. 

    Please note, not all test-takers may take the bar exam in New York City. The bar exam is also administered in White Plains, Albany, and Buffalo. After registering for the bar, you will receive an email listing all available locations for your test -- please take the steps outlined in the email promptly, as assignments are made on a first-come, first-served basis.

    District of Columbia

    The District of Columbia (DC) is a Uniform Bar Examination (UBE) jurisdiction. The DC jurisdiction recently amended a rule for applicants looking to waive into the jurisdiction. You must now accrue three years of good standing before applying for admission in conjunction with a qualifying score from the other jurisdiction. Please be aware, this process can take up to a year. Additional information on the DC Bar admissions process:

    California

    The California Bar requires an applicant to register and complete the Moral Character application. The Character and Fitness process can take 6 months or longer, so students interested in taking the California Bar should complete the Moral Character application before registering for the actual exam.

    More information about the California Bar.

    Other States

  • Hearings Before the Bar Examiners

    Hearings Before the Bar Examiners

    Any student who might be called for an investigative hearing should file their application for admission to the Bar as soon as possible. Third-year students may have their Bar admission delayed if these steps have to be taken after the Bar Exam.

    If a student receives a letter requestion their appearance at a hearing, respond immediately to request the time and hearing of the hearing, then contact Dean Amy Perez to discuss the next steps.

    As a reminder, a student's responses on the application for admission to the School of Law must conform with those on their application for admission to the Bar, and both must conform to what the Board of Bar Examiners will discover in their investigative process.

    Typical issues include, but are not limited to, the following:

    • Failure to report academic probation/suspension at another institution
    • Failure to report disciplinary measures taken at another institution, including, but not limited to residence hall warnings, sanctions imposed such as requirements to take a course, pay a fine, write a paper, etc.
    • Failure to report "minor" events such as minor in possession, underage drinking, open container violations, etc.
    • Failure to report traffic offenses where the actual paid fine was in excess of $200
    • Failure to report termination from employment
    • Failure to report delinquent financial obligations
    • Failure to report incidents that occurred after the original law school application was filed