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New York Rules of the Court of Appeals §520.6 contains eligibility requirements for individuals who are foreign law graduates. Some students from common law countries will be found eligible to sit for the New York bar on the basis of their first degree in law. Below is a simplified summary of the rule. Under this section, an individual with a foreign legal education can qualify for the bar examination if the legal education was successfully completed and meets the following durational and substantive requirements:
The program and course of study was at least three years in duration; and
The program and course of study was taken in a country where the legal system is based on the English common law system.
If either #1 or #2 does not apply to you, then you may be able to “cure” the problem by pursuing a course of study at a law school in the US. Please note that you cannot cure both. That is, if you do not have a three-year degree in law from your country or your country doesn’t follow the English common law legal system, you may still be eligible to take the bar in the U.S. if you further your legal education at an American Bar Association-approved law school.
You can cure the durational deficiency if you have had at least two years of foreign legal education that meets the substantive requirements and you have graduated from an LL.M. degree program at an American Bar Association-approved law school in the U.S. that meets the requirements of §520.6(b)(3).
You can cure the substantive deficiency by providing satisfactory proof that the applicant meets the durational requirements and that the applicant has graduated from an LL.M. degree program at an American Bar Association-approved law school in the US that meets the requirements of §520.6(b)(3).
The LL.M. degree program is subject to the following requirements:
The program must involve a minimum of 24 semester hours of academic credit in order to qualify.
A minimum of 700 minutes of instruction time, exclusive of examination time, must be required for the granting of one credit hour.
The program shall have a minimum of two semesters of at least 13 calendar weeks each; and shall not be completed exclusively during summer semesters, but a maximum of four credit hours may be earned in courses completed during summer semesters.
The program shall be completed within 24 months of matriculation.
All coursework shall be completed at the campus of an ABA-approved law school in the U.S.
The program completed shall include:
A minimum of 2 credit hours in a Professional Responsibility course;
A minimum of 2 credit hours in a Legal Research, Writing and Analysis course;
A minimum of 2 credit hours in an American Legal Studies course;
A minimum of 6 credit hours in other courses in subjects tested on the New York State bar examination.
Note that you cannot use the same credits to satisfy the requirements of more than one area (a, b, c, and d).
A maximum of 4 credit hours can be taken in clinical courses.
A maximum of 6 credit hours can be taken in other courses related to legal training taught by members of the faculty of the law school or of the university with which the law school is affiliated.
No credit shall be allowed for correspondence courses, on-line courses, courses offered on DVD or other media, or other distance learning courses.