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California Bar Exam Requirements and Application Process

We strongly encourage you to familiarize yourself with the information contained on the State Bar of California’s website regarding the California Bar Examination.

CWSL Registrar’s Bar Exam Information Page also has information you need to know regarding The State Bar of California’s requirements for law students and graduates planning to take the California Bar examination.

California Moral Character Determination

Prior to being allowed to practice law in California, an applicant must be found to be “of good moral character.”

  • The California Bar takes a minimum of six months to process and approve Moral Character Determination Applications.

  • The California Bar Association therefore recommends filing your Moral Character Application at least eight (8) to ten (10) months prior to the date you wish to be admitted.

  • If you are planning to take the February Bar, your Moral Character Application should be submitted by the end of July of the year immediately preceding the February Bar exam.

  • If you are planning to take the July Bar, your Moral Character Application should be submitted by the end of January, prior to the July exam.

It is highly recommended you submit your Moral Character Application early as the approval remains valid for two years, with the ability to extend the approval for an additional two years. Please check the California Bar website for complete details. Failure to file your application in a timely manner will delay your admission to practice law and become employed as an attorney.

Bar Examinations of Other States

If you are contemplating taking the Bar Examination of a state other than California, it is essential that you determine all requirements of that state’s Bar Examination early on in your legal education. The American Bar Association has a link to State Bar websites which provides information on all states licensing requirements.

The requirements for each state vary greatly and it is imperative you are aware of all steps you must take now and in the future to ensure your ability to work as a licensed attorney in that state. For example, some states require that the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) be taken and passed prior to taking the Bar examination, other states may not have this requirement. This is only one example of such differences. Be sure you are aware early on in your legal education of all requirements of the state’s Bar for which you will be sitting.