Bar – Application Process
Applying for the bar in Minnesota and other states is an extensive and time-consuming process. Admission requirements vary by state, and students are urged to research the requirements, timelines, and standards for the bar(s) of the state(s) in which they intend to apply at least six months before the scheduled exam date. Some states, including Ohio, require degree candidates to confirm intent to apply to the bar more than a year before graduation. The Registrar's Office formally requests information from students about their bar plans during spring semester in order to facilitate certification after graduation.
A comprehensive guide to the bar application process is available from NCBEX. The Minnesota State Board of Examiners provides information about application to the Minnesota bar.
Bar – Certification of Graduation
State bars require that the Law School certify applicants as having met all J.D. degree requirements in order to sit for the bar exam. The Law School Registrar's Office tracks the deadlines and certification requirements for each state to which graduates intend to apply, and keeps detailed lists of certifications by state and by student. State bar certification forms are prepared by the Registrar's Office based on information from student records and responses to the Graduation, Commencement, and Bar Plans survey. Certifications are forwarded to the Dean or Dean's delegate for signature, and then submitted directly to the bar examiners in each state.
Students applying for the bar outside of Minnesota should submit the appropriate state bar certification form(s) - with all necessary applicant information completed - to the Registrar’s Office (firstname.lastname@example.org) no later than May 1st for summer bar exams, or January 10th for February bar exams. The Registrar will obtain the Dean’s signature. Students applying for the Minnesota bar only need to notify the Registrar (via the spring survey) of their intent to take the exam. The Registrar’s Office carefully tracks the bar certification deadlines for each state bar in order to ensure that completed certifications are received in a timely fashion.
If a bar applicant has not completed all J.D. degree requirements, the Law School cannot forward a bar certification, and the applicant may not be able to sit for the bar exam. Students with incomplete coursework are responsible for finishing all required assignments, and for following up with the faculty member and Registrar's Office to ensure a grade is entered. Incompletes that are unresolved after one year will be recorded as "F" grades.
Bar – Character and Fitness Evaluation Process
The Character and Fitness evaluation process is a critical part of bar admission in most states, and students are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the expectations for practice early in their law school careers. All students should carefully review the character and fitness requirements for the state in which they intend to practice. Representatives of the Minnesota State Board of Law Examiners also address students at the beginning and end of their educational experience.
- NCBE National Conference of Bar Examiners Character and Fitness Investigation Services
- Minnesota's Character and Fitness evaluation process
- For admissions standards in other states, consult the applicable state bar admissions website.
Student records, including law school applications, may be reviewed by the Board of Law Examiners as part of the Character and Fitness evaluation process. Inconsistencies between the information disclosed on a student's law school application and his or her bar application may subject the applicant to further scrutiny, and require an amendment to his or her law school application. Students who have disciplinary or criminal problems that occur after they begin law school are also required to amend their applications. For information on this process, review the Law School's Character and Fitness Disclosure Policy (available on the Administrative Policies webpage) and consult the Dean of Students office.
Other bar admission questions and concerns of a confidential nature may also be addressed to the Dean of Students Office or directly to the bar authority in the state where the student expects to practice. Students are especially encouraged to seek consultation early in their law school career if they have a history of alcohol or chemical dependency, criminal matters, academic misconduct, significant mental health impairments, or other concerns that may relate to the ability to meet requirements of practice.
Students should note that no single condition or incident will automatically prevent admission to the bar; rather, bar examiners encourage students to directly address and treat any condition that may lead to a conduct concern or impair an individual's ability to comply with practice standards. Some states, including Minnesota, have also introduced a Conditional Admissions process, which allows a bar applicant with recent impairments to be admitted to practice under certain conditions and supervision. Evidence of current fitness and rehabilitation from past impairments are often important considerations in the Character and Fitness evaluation process. Therefore, seeking appropriate support or treatment is strongly encouraged.
Minnesota Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers is an independent non-profit organization that provides support, advice, mentoring, and referrals to law students or bar applicants who have struggled with impairments that may impact fitness to practice.
Bar - Examination Preparation
Bar applicants are tested on a wide range of legal subjects and skills, including those not previously covered in law school coursework. A reputable commercial bar preparation course tailors substantive study materials, practice exercises, and timelines to enable applicants to succeed on the bar exam. First time bar passage rates for applicants who take and complete a commercial bar course are significantly higher than for those who do not take or substantially complete a course.
Students are encouraged to plan ahead to research and sign up for a reputable bar course, arrange work and personal schedules to accommodate significant study time in the two months before the exam, and to plan for costs of bar study and living expenses before the exam.