A license to practice law is not a national license. Each state outlines its own requirements to obtain a license in that state. You will be licensed in just that state. Most licensing requirements have two major components: a determination of character and fitness to practice law and the passage of that state’s bar examination. Character and fitness also includes passing the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam.

Each state sets its own requirements regarding citizenship, education, and a past criminal record.

One resource to locate information about your specific jurisdiction’s licensing requirements is the National Conference of Bar Examiners’ (NCBE) website. You will find links to every jurisdiction’s licensing authority’s website.

Some states require new admittees to take a mandatory professionalism continuing legal education course[i] and/or a basic skills course.[ii] Some states that have adopted the Uniform Bar Examination add the successful completion of a state-specific law examination to their licensing requirements.[iii]

Be sure to bookmark both the NCBE website and the website for your jurisdiction as these will be frequent reference sources for you.

  • Missouri Requirements +

    • Be a citizen or national of the United States, an immigrant alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States, or an alien otherwise authorized to work lawfully in the United States, Rule 8.03(a)(4);

    • Has met all the requirements for graduation with a juris doctorate degree from a law school approved by the American Bar Association, Rule 8.03(1)(5); and

    • That five years have passed since a criminal sentence or period of probation was completed. The applicant must have met all special conditions and paid restitution, as required.

  • Kansas Requirements +

    • Has been granted and holds a baccalaureate degree based upon a full course of study in a college, university or other institution of higher learning accredited by a regional accreditation body recognized by the United States Department of Education;

    • Has been granted and holds a Juris Doctor degree or Bachelor of Laws degree from a law school approved by the American Bar Association at the time of the applicant’s graduation; and

    • That five years has passed from the successful completion of any sentence, period of probation or parole, or term of pretrial diversion. In addition, the circumstances which led to the commission of the offense have changed, full restitution has been paid, all special conditions imposed have been fulfilled, and the applicant’s civil rights have been restored. The applicant must meet all qualifications for character and fitness.

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[i] Ariz. R. 34(n)(1) (Arizona); C.R.C.P. 201.14(4) (Colorado).

[ii] West’s F.S.A. Bar R. 6-12.3 (Florida); ILCS S. Ct. R. 793(c)(1) (Illinois); I.C.A. R. 41.12 (Iowa).

[iii] Missouri requires a mandatory open book test entitled the “Missouri Education Component Test.”   Mo. Sup. Ct. R. 8.08(c). Arizona requires applicants to complete a course on Arizona Law. Ariz. R. 34(j).