U.S. Bar exams

can’t really remember specific details, but here’s the gist:

good chance you’ll have to take remedial classes to learn “their versions” of con law and some other stuff

can’t escape articling in Canada - so you could potentially be a 55 year old attorney who is relegated to an apprenticeship for at least 6 months (can knock off up to 1/2 of the articling, tops)

australia has you possibly taking basic skills courses like “how to be a family law practitioner and conduct data-gathering client interviews”
i’m unsure if this is a better approach than the blanket “no degree from a law school here? no go” that many states adopt, but these jurisdictions seem to miss the boat with respect to what is done and why a lawyer goes through with formal bar admissions process - too much focus on formalistic “gotta know this” and not enough “gotta know how to analyze crap” (edit: they’re also clearly a lot more adept at protecting the profession instead of the free-for-all we have here)

The Australian rules are not arduous for US JD holders. They usually have to take certain classes amounting to a semester’s worth of school in order to qaulify. (requirements are listed here(pdf)) If the US attorney has 2-3 years experience, there is normally an exemption from the Practical Training Skills requirement.

In an odd sort of way, it might be kinda fun to be a puppy lawyer for a few months. I never got that opportunity. My first law job was as a child support attorney for the state welfare department. One week of bird-dogging another lawyer and then I was in court alone and responsible for a 40+ case docket of cases filed before I was even hired.

I’ll never forget that first court day. Court started at 9:30 AM, and I was trying cases one after the other. Most, but not all, were against pro se defendants, so it wasn’t like I was gonna lose, but still, I was pretty nervous. Kinda stumble/bluffed my way through, gaining a little confidence as I went. Finished a case, dutifully made my notes about the ruling, and was about to call my next case when the Judge barked “Mr. Oakminster, I want to see you in chambers. Right now.” OH SHIT. I just knew I’d made some horrible mistake, and the Judge was going to call my boss, get me fired, report me to the Bar, get me disbarred, send me to prison, etc. So I followed the Judge back to his chambers, so nervous I had to put my hands in my pockets so the Judge wouldn’t see them shaking. We get there, the Judge puts his feet up on the desk, says nothing, just staring at me, seems to enjoy watching me squirm for at least a decade…maybe two…then he smiles and says “Relax, Oak, you’re doing fine. I just wanted a cigarette. Smoke em if you got em, Son”. Think I consumed the whole damn cigarette in about 2 hits, but my career was off and running. Sadly, about four years later, after I’d moved on to another job in another part of the state, that Judge was involved in a corruption scandal, removed from the bench, and disbarred.

In England and Wales, you have a split profession. You might have to undertake a one year GDL (Graduate Diploma in Law) followed by the LPC or the Bar Course if you want to be a solicitor or a Barrister.

However, depending on your juridiction, you might be exempted from all that.

Case in point, Judah P Benjamin was called to the Bar by Lincoln’s Inn in 1867 after obtaining special dispensation.

So Common Law, thus a Nigerian, Sri Lankan, Pakistani, Indian or Aussie could get in, but its a nyet or nine for a Russian, German or a Frenchman?

When I was articling, I was also taking the bar courses, as is normal here. One of the guys in my bar course class was an English solicitor who had practiced in England for 20 years–then moved here. Yep, he had to article here. I don’t know for how long he had to article–each province’s law society (i.e. bar association) sets its own requirements–but this experienced practitioner sure had to go through the articling process just like the rest of us newbies.

I never got the chance to ask him, but I’m sure he needed some law school courses on such things as constitutional law also. It would have been very different from what he was used to.

I should add to the above that, to the best of my knowledge, it is possible to move between Canadian provinces without having to re-article, or re-write bar exams. If you are admitted to the bar of one province and you move to another, you can be admitted to the bar of the moved-to province, as long as you fill out the proper forms, pay the fees for admission and membership in the new province’s Law Society, prove membership in good standing in your old province’s Law Society, and show professional insurance coverage. Apparently, this wasn’t the case in days past.

Oakminster, you wouldn’t want to be an “articling student,” as they are called. They don’t generally get to do what you got to do. They do whatever the senior lawyers want them to do: research endlessly, deal with whoever calls or walks in the door with a question, research some more, renew writs, make basic applications in chambers, research yet more … basically, anything the senior lawyers don’t want to do. I was lucky; I actually garnered a few clients as an articling student and took a few matters to trial, but most articling students don’t. It is very much long hours of drudgery, backed by “well, we all did it, so you have to also.” I wasn’t sure if I was joining the practice of law or pledging a fraternity, given “the initiation attitude” of the seniors.

lsamu, note that you can take more than one bar prep course. Personally, I think it’s a good idea. I took (and passed) the Maryland bar last July - took BarBri’s course for the state-specific portion, and Kaplan’s MBE prep course. It’s a good way to compensate for weaknesses in any individual lecturer in one program. Also - buy Kaplan’s MP3 lecture set. It’s pricey- $250, I think - but worth every penny. The contracts lectures are particularly good.

Also: Just so you know, it’s common for people to fail US bar exams the first time around. I think most states tend to hover around a 20% failure rate (but don’t hold me to that) - so it’s common enough that no one would think you were incompetent or anything like that. One of my smartest friends from law school failed the NY bar his first go-round. Try to pass, of course - but don’t get crushed if you don’t.

California can be about 50% pass.

Ohio’s got about a 70% pass rate, last I heard. More soberingly, there was a study a few years ago that showed that the more you take the same bar exam, the worse your chances of passing. Those who are going to pass tend to do so the first or second time.

My state has a three strikes rule. If you don’t pass after the third attempt, you can’t take it again unless you get special permission, and tutoring from an attorney. I think the first time pass rate was around 70-80% when I took it, but I haven’t looked at recent numbers.

Washington state does not require the MPRE - I think we are the only one. There’s an extra half-day of ethics essays tacked on after the the two days of regular essays (no MBE, either).

I’ve taken the bar exam in Massachusetts and Washington. I hope I never have to take another one.

Yes. The pool of 5th-time exam takers, for example, has a higher percentage of people in it who will *never *pass than the pool of 3d-time takers.

Yes, with the proviso that the legal education in the Common Law nation must be “substantially equivalent” to a US legal education, and such equivalence must be demonstrated before you are allowed to sit for the Bar.

Maryland doesn’t require the MPRE either. (I took it anyway, because I plan to waive into DC, which does.)

You can also hire a tutor, someone who will work with you individually to help you pass. I’ve known a handful of lawyers who were concerned about passing the bar (either because they’re worriers or because they’d already failed the bar once). To find a tutor, consider calling the recruiting managers at some of the larger firms in town and asking for names/numbers. Because the recruiting managers deal with incoming lawyers, they’re more likely to know tutors.

Yep, for all takers. But for foreign lawyers, the California bar passage rate historically has been about 18% for first time takers, and 12% for repeat takers. So, a tutor on top of bar prep classes may be worth the investment.

This is no longer true, at least in Ontario. Full and partial exemptions from articling are now granted. I was given a full exemption from the articling requirement (14 years of practice). I was told (no idea if it’s true or not) that a full exemption will only be granted to applicants with at least 7 years of practice.