Admission to practice law
A lawyer at the tribunal, 19th century
|Names||Attorney at law|
|Education required||see professional requirements|
An admission to practice law, also called admission to the bar in some jurisdictions, is acquired when a lawyer receives a license to practice law. Becoming a lawyer is a widely varied process around the world. Common to all jurisdictions are requirements of age and competence; some jurisdictions also require citizenship. However, the most varied requirements are those surrounding the preparation for the license, whether it includes obtaining a law degree, passing an exam, or serving in an apprenticeship. In English, admission is also called a law license. Basic requirements vary from country to country:
Asia and Pacific Islands
In Australia, prospective lawyers must complete an undergraduate LLB or post graduate JD and complete the practical training requirement which is met by completing an approved practical legal training course or articles of clerkship.
Admission to practice is a matter for each State. However, a person holding a practising certificate in any Australian jurisdiction is entitled to practise from time to time in another Australian jurisdiction without gaining admission in that jurisdiction.
New Zealand practitioners may apply for admission pursuant to Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Act 1997 (Cth).
- New South Wales
A person is admitted as a legal practitioner after completing the required academic and practical training requirements. These matters are dealt with in the Legal Profession Act 2004. The applicant applies to the Legal Profession Admission Board who assesses applications (both local and foreign), and is ultimately admitted as a lawyer by the Supreme Court of New South Wales (s31 of the Legal profession Act 2004).
After admission, a person is then entitled to apply for a practising certificate from the Law Society of New South Wales (if he or she wishes to practice as a solicitor), or the NSW Bar Association (if he wishes to practice as a barrister). The practising certificate requires the payment of fees, insurance and a contribution to the fidelity fund (which compensates clients in some circumstances).
Under the Legal Profession Act 2004 (Vic), an individual may practise law, as a legal practitioner, in the state of Victoria if he or she has been admitted to the legal profession in any Australian jurisdiction and holds a current local or interstate practising certificate. Furthermore, the Legal Profession (Admission) Rules 2008 (Vic) replace articles of clerkship with supervised workplace training and make changes to the process of admission to practice. Under these new rules, upon completion of an approved training course and attainment of an accredited law degree, a law graduate needs to complete either a Practical Legal Training (PLT) program or Supervised Workplace Training (SWT) to be admitted to practise law in Victoria.
In the People's Republic of China, one must first obtain a recognized degree (a bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree), pass the National Judicial Examination, and complete a one-year apprenticeship.
Hong Kong makes a distinction between barristers and solicitors. Admission to either profession requires a law degree (either the four-year LL.B. or the two-year Juris Doctor) and a Postgraduate Certificate in Laws (which requires nine months). The apprenticeship to become a barrister is only one year, while a solicitor must apprentice for two years.
In India, prospective lawyers must complete an undergraduate law degree (B.A., LL.B., which lasts five years) or a graduate law degree (LL.B. which lasts three years). India also requires all law graduates to appear for an All-India Bar Exam conducted by Bar Council of India graduating after 2009-10, without which they shall not be admitted to practice.
Israel requires an undergraduate law degree (LL.B., which is a three-and-a-half-year program), a one-year apprenticeship, and the passing of the bar examination.
Japan requires an undergraduate degree in any field (which requires 4 years of study), a Juris Doctor (which lasts 2 or 3 years), the passing of the national bar exam, a 12-month apprenticeship which incorporates additional coursework and passing the graduation examination of apprenticeship.
Jordan has a developed and restricted rules for admission to practice law. It requires academic and practical exams for enrolment in its national bar association. The probationer must hold a bachelor degree or equivalent and to have a clear history in the police's records.
The Bar Association requires a minimum two years of training under supervision. The Bar grants the probationer special permission to appear in front some of the courts.
After two years of the practical training, the probationer submits a written request to be enrolled in the written exams that the Bar held 4 times year. If he mastered the exam within (15/25) then the probationer will be eligible to admit to the verbal exams by the legal committee elected from judges, Professors and senior lawyers. If he/she passed the verbal exam, then it comes to essay stage. Each probationer must write in legal subject and discussed before a committee from senior lawyers which if he/she passed it will lead the probationer to swear the oath before the Minister of Justice. Usually the process takes not less than two and a half and above to accomplish the Bar Association’s requirement to practice law.
In South Korea, currently there are two types of admission to practice law: (i)until 2017, one can be admitted to practice law by passing the exam called 사법시험 (roughly translated as "Judicial Examination") which requires 35 credits of legal education in undergraduate level and certain level of English qualification plus taking two-year training course at the Judicial Research and Training Institute, a national institution; and (ii) from 2012, one can be admitted to practice law by passing the exam called 변호사시험 (roughly translated as "Attorney Examination" which requires prior completion of three-year law school course with the degree called 법무석사 (roughly translated as "Master of Practical Law" and it is equivalent to Juris Doctor in Canada or the United States).
Lawyers in Kazakhstan must complete an undergraduate law degree and pass the state examination.
Malaysia requires advocates and solicitors to be admitted to the Malaysian Bar. The prerequisite is either a Bachelor of Laws (Hons) degree (an LL.B (Hons)., which requires four years of study) from the local law faculties or a call as a Barrister in the UK or a Certificate in Legal Practice and a nine-month pupillage.
New Zealand requires an undergraduate law degree (LL.B., which lasts four years), and completion of the Professional Legal Studies Course (which lasts five months).
Lawyers in Pakistan are called Advocates. To enjoy rights of audience in the Courts in Pakistan, a prospective lawyer/advocate must obtain a Bachelor's degree followed by a Qualifying Law Degree (LL.B of three years) from a recognised Pakistani or common law jurisdiction country's university. All legal education in Pakistan is taught in the English language. After that, he or she must undertake a one year of training under a senior lawyer (called Pupillage/ Apprenticeship/ Intern-ship /Training) at the conclusion of which,he has to take a Bar admission test consisting of multiple choice question paper( or in some cases a professional exam) and an interview with a serving judge of a High Court. After that the respective Provincial Bar Council may grant him or her the rights of audience in the lower courts (i.e. courts lower than the High Court).
An advocate enrolled with Provincial Bar Council can practice anywhere in the country except the High Courts and Supreme Court of Pakistan. He she will earn rights of audience in the High Courts after a further two years of practice in lower courts, at the end of which (in some Provincial Bar Council's) the advocate has to sit another professional exam and an interview with a judge of a High Court.
After a further 10 years practice in the High Courts, the candidate has to sit another professional exam and an interview with a judge of the Supreme Court to be given the rights of audience in the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
The exams are usually conducted to ensure that the quality of lawyers being produced is maintained to a certain level. The interview is then another opportunity for a senior judge and members of the provincial Bar Council to meet the candidate and see if he or she is fit to be admitted as an advocate of the lower courts/ High Courts or the Supreme Court.
To practice law in the Philippines, one must have fulfilled the non-academic and academic requirements. For non-academic requirements, one must be a Filipino, be at least 21 years old, be a resident of the Philippines, and have the moral and other non-academic qualifications needed. In terms of academic requirements, one must have obtained an undergraduate degree (with major, focus or concentration in any of the subjects of History, Economics, Political Science, Logic, English or Spanish), has obtained a Bachelor of Laws degree (or equivalent such as Juris Doctor) from a law school recognized by the Secretary of Education. They must have also taken and passed (75% general average, with no subject falling below 50%) the Bar Exam, taken the Attorney's Oath before the Supreme Court, signed the Roll of Attorneys, remain in good standing with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and continually participates in the Mandatory Continuing Legal Education.
Persons seeking admission to the Singapore Bar must obtain an approved law degree through completing a course of study of at least three academic years leading to that degree as a full-time internal candidate in either of a list of approved universities. The degree is typically a LLB or a LLB (honours), depending on the university, or a JD (from only five universities). They are then required to sit for the Bar Examinations, which is divided into parts A (for overseas graduates) and B (a five-month practical course, which is compulsory for both local and overseas graduates), before they can contact the Singapore Institute of Legal Education and wait to be called to the Bar.
Sri Lanka requires an attorney to be admitted and enrolled as an Attorney-at-Law of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka. One must pass the required law exams at the Sri Lanka Law College, and then spend one year in apprenticeship to a practicing attorney. To sit for the exams, students must graduate from the Sri Lanka Law College, or be qualified by gaining a LL.B. from a local or foreign university.
Among European Union members, the Diplomas Directive (Directive no. 89/48/EEC) states that those who have obtained a license or diploma in one state can pursue the profession in another state. Thus, it is not difficult for a law degree in one jurisdiction to be used as a qualifying degree in another jurisdiction within the European Union.
In Belgium, a prospective lawyer ("advocaat" in Dutch, "avocat"/"avocate" in French) must complete a Bachelor in Law (which requires three years of study), a Master in Law (which requires two years of study), a three-year apprenticeship, the CAPA course of study, and must pass the final bar exam.
- full capacity
- Master degree in law acquired at a Czech law school or analogous education acquired at a foreign university, if such an education is officially acknowledged as equivalent by an international treaty, by which the Czech republic is bound, or if a particular enactment acknowledges such a foreign education, or if it is acknowledged due to its content and extent from the point of view of knowledge and skill as sufficient for practicing law by the Advocacy Enactment
- at least three years of legal apprenticeship
- personal integrity (absence of conviction for deliberate crime)
- absence of disciplinary punishment of prohibition of law practice (if a person was already a law practitioner)
- absence of being stricken from the list of law practitioners because of personal bankruptcy
- absence of labour engagement or officiary engagement, except of engagement:
- to the Bar Association or to similar organisation in other EU state
- to a law practitioner or to a legal personality established in order to provide legal services
- to a University as a lecturer
- as a scientific worker of Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic
- passing the bar exam
- taking the pledge
In Denmark, to use the title of advokat one must complete an LL.B. (three years of study) and a LL.M. (which awards the academic title of Candidata Juris, and requires two years of study), followed by a three-year apprenticeship, one year as an assistant lawyer, and an exam which has a moot court element.
To become a French lawyer an "avocat"(male)or "avocate"(female), one must obtain an undergraduate degree (licence, three years), a first year of Masters of Laws (diplôme de maîtrise en droit) so a total of 4 years of study in a Law University, complete the exam to enter one of the CRFPA (Centre Régional de Formation à la Profession d'Avocat) which provides a course of eighteen months and results in the award of the requisite Certificat d'aptitude à la profession d'avocat (CAPA).
Anyone can practice law in Finland, not just lawyers. However, only those licensed by the bar association may use the title asianajaja, which requires the completion of a Bachelor of Laws (or oikeusnotaari, which takes three years), a Master of Laws (or oikeustieteen maisteri), which takes two years, a four-year apprenticeship, and the passing of a bar exam which also requires the demonstration of practical skills.
In Germany, a lawyer (Rechtsanwalt) must be a member of a local bar association. The requirements for membership include an undergraduate law degree (Rechtswissenschaft or Diplom-Jurist, which requires about four and a half years and includes the First State Exam), a two-year apprenticeship, and the passing of the Juristisches Staatsexamen (Second State Exam).
Greece requires that a lawyer (δικηγόρος) be a member of a local bar association. Requirements include an undergraduate law degree, which lasts at least four years, an eighteen month apprenticeship, and the passing of the bar examination.Candidates should normally be under thirty - five years of age.
Following the English tradition, Ireland has both barristers and solicitors. To become a solicitor, one must complete an undergraduate degree or pass the Preliminary Examination. One must then pass the Final Examination, complete a two-year apprenticeship, and finish the concurrent Professional Practice Courses. To become a barrister, one must complete an undergraduate law degree (BCL, which lasts three years or LL.B. which last four years) or the Kings Inns Diploma in Legal Studies which lasts two years, obtain the Degree of Barrister-at-Law from the Honorable Society of King's Inns, and finish a one year pupillage (known as devilling).
Italy mandates membership in an Italian bar association, which requires completion of an undergraduate law degree (Laurea in Scienze Giuridiche, three years), a graduate law degree (Laurea Specialistica in Giurisprudenza (a two years program which confers the title of Dottore Magistrale in Giurisprudenza), or simply the one-cicle five years master degree (Laurea a ciclo unico Magistrale in Giurisprudenza)), an 18 month apprenticeship, and passing of the professional exam.
Malta's legal practice is fused and legal practice is regulated by the Chamber of Advocates. Licence to practice law is granted by way of a warrant issued on completion of the Doctorate of Laws (LLD) programme from Malta University (or a comparable international programme) and an admission exam in English and Maltese. Lawyers holding rights to practice in other jurisdictions can apply for an exemption from local practice prohibitions allowing them to offer services under their foreign title though permission is issued by discretion and requires three years local legal practice and a comparable licence elsewhere.
Moldova requires an undergraduate law degree and passage of the state examination.
In the Netherlands, to be a licensed lawyer (Advocaat), one must complete an undergraduate law degree (Bacheloropleiding or LL.B, which is three years of study), the master of law degree (doctorandus in law before implementation of the Bologna Process and conferring the meester title, which is a one year LL.M. program), and a three-year apprenticeship.
In Poland, a lawyer (adwokat or radca prawny) must complete a magister's degree in law (which lasts five years) and be admitted to a bar association (The Polish Bar Council or National Chamber of Legal Advisors). There are several ways to gain admission to the bar, including: three years of training followed by the bar exam; five years of legal professional experience followed by the bar exam; a Ph.D. in law followed by either the bar exam or 3 years of legal professional experience; or possession of high academic qualifications in legal sciences (e.g., habilitated doctor or professor). Once admitted to the bar association of one occupation, a lawyer can move to another occupation with little hassle.
It is not necessary to have a license to practice law in Russia as a legal consultant, but only the members of the Russian bar associations (advocates) are permitted to appear in court on criminal matters. In Russia, an advocate must obtain an undergraduate degree in law (four years) and a Specialist in Law or Jurist degree (one year), then pass oral examinations.
In Spain, a lawyer uses the title of Licenciado/Abogado(male) or Licenciada/Abogada(female), and must be a member of a local bar association, such as the bar association of Madrid. Membership requirements for all bar associations are the same. The only requirement is a graduate law degree, the Titulo de Licenciado en Derecho, which requires five years of study.
In Sweden, membership in the bar association is required to use the title of advokat or lawyer, but not to practice law. Membership in the bar association requires an LL.M. degree (jur. kandidatexamen, which lasts four and a half years); three years of legal work which must be in a law office (either an established firm or one's own firm), and the passing of an oral examination.
In Switzerland, lawyers must complete a Bachelor of Law (BLaw, which lasts 3 years), a Master of Law (MLaw, which lasts three terms), a one year to two years apprenticeship (depending on the Canton), and pass the bar examination.
The United Kingdom comprises three distinct legal jurisdictions:
As such, admission to practice law requires different qualifications in each country of the UK.
England and Wales
In England and Wales, one does not have to be admitted to the bar to practice law, but qualifications are required to become a solicitor or barrister, who have special rights of audience in Court. There are also other types of lawyer, including Chartered Legal Executives. For both the solicitor and barrister professions, one must either obtain an undergraduate law degree (LL.B., which typically lasts three years), or complete the Common Professional Examination/Graduate Diploma in Law (which lasts one year after completing an undergraduate degree). Potential solicitors are then required to complete the Legal Practice Course which lasts one year, then a two-year apprenticeship under a training contract, during which the trainee solicitor has to complete a Professional Skills Course. Potential barristers must usually complete the one year Bar Professional Training Course (formerly Bar Vocational Course), followed by a year of vocational training known as a pupillage. Potential Chartered Legal Executives may or may not have a law degree (LL.B). Their regulatory body, The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) sets a vocational route to qualification. On top of that, Chartered Legal Executives need to have 5 years of qualifying work experience to become lawyers. This is in place of a training contract or pupilage. However Chartered Legal Executives can then go on to become partners in law firms, judges or advocates (with further training).
Scotland requires an undergraduate law degree (LL.B., which lasts four years if taken as a first degree (with honours) three if taken as an Ordinary Degree and two years if taken as a graduate entry degree), a Diploma in Legal Practice (one year), and completion of a two-year apprenticeship together with the Professional Competence Course (which lasts seven days).
Canadian applicants to the bar must obtain admission (referred to as the "call to the bar") to one of the provincial or territorial Law Societies in the various jurisdictions of Canada. As an example, in order to sit for the bar exam, the Law Society of British Columbia requires that a student complete an undergraduate degree in any discipline (B.A. of four years), and an undergraduate law degree (LL.B. and/or B.C.L., three to four years) or Juris Doctor (three years). Upon obtaining his or her law degree, the applicant must then successfully complete the bar exam for that jurisdiction, as well as any additional requirements, such as the Professional Legal Training Course (ten weeks). Upon passing the bar exam, the applicant must then complete an apprenticeship referred to as "articling" (nine or ten months).
Lawyers in Mexico are required to complete a law degree (Licenciado en Derecho, a five-year program), and obtain a practice certificate (cedula professional) from the Bureau of Professions of the Ministry of Education (Direction General de Profesiones), which officially certifies the license by virtue of the law degree.
Lawyers in the United States must be admitted by each U.S. jurisdiction in which they intend to perform legal services (i.e., a U.S. state, commonwealth or territory), which generally requires that they complete an undergraduate degree in any discipline (usually four years), obtain a Juris Doctor degree (three years minimum) and pass a bar exam. However, the requirements vary between jurisdictions, and there are exceptions to each of the general requirements in some. In a handful of U.S. states, one may become an attorney (a so-called country lawyer) by simply "reading law" and passing the bar examination, without having to attend law school first (although very few people actually become lawyers that way).
In Argentina, prospective lawyers must complete an undergraduate law degree (Abogado, which lasts five to six years depending on the University), and then become a member of one of the jurisdictional associations.
Brazil requires an undergraduate law degree (Bacharel em Direito, which lasts five years) and the passing of the bar examination.
Chile requires a law degree (Licenciado en Ciencias Jurídicas, five years) and a six-month apprenticeship.
Lawyers (Abogados) in Peru must be members of a local bar association, which requires an undergraduate law degree (Bachiller en Derecho, a five-year program) and a diploma (Titulo de Abogado), the latter requiring one year of apprenticeship and passing of the bar exam.
- The term is more prevalent in U.S. English and to a lesser extent in Canadian English (where it is more usually spelled law licence) similar to other Commonwealth Realms.
— Examples from the U.S. court side include: "Respondent used his law license to commit crimes [...]. Accordingly, we conclude that respondent should be disbarred" (NYCourts.gov, "Appellate Division Decisions of November 15, 2002") and "ordered to surrender his law license and resign from the practice of law" (USDOJ.gov, "EOIR Announces Disciplinary Actions Against 11 Immigration Practitioners", 2001).
— Examples from the U.S. bar side include: "A North Carolina judge who lost his law license based on accusations he took money [...]" and "Scooter Libby Loses Law License" (American Bar Association Journal, both in 2008, from more than 300 instances in the ABA Journal).
— Examples from Canadian medias include: "Disbarred lawyer [...] says he'll fight to get back his law licence." (The Brantford Expositor) and "Convicted murderer wants law licence back" (CBC.ca).
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