Admission to the New York Bar: A reference guide

By Desiree Jaeger-Fine

The bar exam is just the first step toward your admission to becoming an attorney in New York State. After passing the bar exam, you will have to apply for admission in the respective Appellate Division. The application for admission represents a whole new challenge for international LL.M. students, as it once again requires us to submit paperwork from our home country.

We have talked about the 8 steps you need to take to be admitted to the bar of New York as an international attorney here. Today, we address the application package that is required after you have passed the bar exam and are ready for your admission to practice.

The Application for Admission must be filed with the Appellate Division as indicated on your Notice of Certification. You are required to file the complete application for admission to the bar within three years from the date you sat for the second day of the bar examination.

  1. Application

You must first fill out an application form that asks you about your personal information, education, employment, bar admissions and other registrations/licenses, military record, interactions with law enforcement, civil matters, mental conditions and impairments, substance abuse and addictions, child support, financial matters/defaults, other licenses/bonds, and loyalty/oaths.

  1. Moral Character

You must submit two original good moral character affidavits. The affidavits should be completed by persons who have known you for not less than two years. They should not be completed by persons who also complete employment affidavits mentioned below, or by persons associated with your present employer or persons related to you by blood or marriage, or by other applicants or by members of the faculty or administrative staff of any law school attended by you. Preferably, one affidavit should be completed by an attorney in good standing. The person completing the affidavit should return it to the applicant, who should file it with the application for admission.

  1. Employment

For each law-related employment or period of solo law practice listed on your application for admission, you must submit an employment affidavit. For a period of solo practice, this affidavit must be completed by an attorney. Unless otherwise not feasible, this affidavit should not be completed by persons related to you by blood or marriage. The person completing this form affidavit should return it to you and then you should submit it with the application for admission. You do not have to submit an employment affidavit for employments listed on your 50-hour pro bono compliance affidavit.

  1. Law School Certificate

You must complete the top portion of the Law School Certificate Form and sign it and then send it to each law school listed on your application for admission. The law school should complete the remainder of the form and return it directly to the Appellate Division.

  1. Pro-Bono Requirement

You must complete at least 50 hours of law-related pro bono work as defined and required by § 520.16 of the Rules of the Court of Appeals prior to being admitted. You must submit a form affidavit for each pro bono project that you use to satisfy the 50-hour requirement and you must secure the certification of the individual who supervised each project.

  1. Skills Form Affidavit

Since August 2018, you must submit proof that you have satisfied the Skills Competency and Professional Values requirement set forth in section 520.18 of the Rules of the Court of Appeals. You must complete the page and the section of the form that corresponds to the pathway under which you seek to satisfy the skills requirement. For example, if you seek to satisfy section 520.18 under Pathway 1, only pages 1 and 2 of the form must be submitted. If you seek to satisfy section 520.18 under Pathway 4, only pages 1, 5, 6, and 7 must be submitted. If any portion of this form is not in English, that portion must be accompanied by an English translation that either is duly authenticated or includes a statement by the translator setting forth the translator’s qualifications and certifying that the translation is accurate.

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I remember that the most stressful part of becoming an attorney in New York was not the fact that I had to study and pass the bar exam but collecting all necessary papers from institutions and employers from my home country. I know it is a daunting task, but if you use a list like this and work through the elements one at a time, you will soon be sworn in as an attorney in New York state.


Desiree Jaeger-Fine is Director of International Programs at Brooklyn Law School and author of "A Short & Happy Guide to Networking" (West Academic Publishing) and "A Short & Happy Guide to Being Hired" (West Academic Publishing).