Qualifications for Taking the UBE in Washington

If you want to take the Washington Bar Exam, you must meet the qualifications stated in APR 3. In all cases, you must establish that you possess good moral character and the requisite fitness to practice law.   

Effective January 1, 2014, to qualify to take the bar exam, you must have:

  • graduated from an ABA accredited law school; or
  • completed the APR 6 Law Clerk Program; or
  • graduated from any U.S. law school and earned an LLM degree meeting the requirements of APR 3 from an ABA approved law school; or
  • graduated from a university or law school outside of the U.S. with a first degree in law and earned an LLM degree meeting the requirements of APR 3 from an ABA approved law school; or
  • been admitted to the practice of law in any jurisdiction where the common law of England is the basis of its jurisprudence and have active legal experience* for at least three of the five years immediately preceding the filing of the application.

* "Active legal experience" means experience:

  • in the active practice of law; or
  • as a teacher at an ABA accredited law school; or
  • as a judge of a court of general or appellate jurisdiction; or
  • any combination of the above in a state or territory of the U.S. or in the District of Columbia or in any jurisdiction where the common law of England is the basis of its jurisprudence.

Important Character and Fitness Information

All applicants are subject to a character and fitness review prior to being admitted to practice law in Washington State. The practice of law is a privilege, not a right. Admission may be withheld pending a hearing before the Character and Fitness Board and final determination regarding whether the applicants have met their burden of proving that they are of good moral character and fit to practice law. Factors considered by Admissions staff and Bar Counsel when determining whether an applicant should be referred to the Character and Fitness Board are set forth in APR 24.2(a).

Washington requires resolution of all character and fitness issues at least 60 days prior to sitting for the bar exam. Applicants with unresolved character and fitness issues will not be permitted to sit for the exam. Therefore, applicants who answer yes to questions 5, 8, 10, 11, 12, 16, 19, 20A, 21, 24, and/or 25 on the application or disclose any information that may raise an issue of character or fitness are strongly encouraged to file their applications early in the registration period. Early filing does not guarantee all issues will be resolved 60 days prior to the exam.

NCBE Report: All attorney applicants and applicants who graduated from a foreign law school will have their applications investigated and verified by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE). For U.S. attorneys, it generally takes three to four months to receive a report back from the NCBE. For foreign attorneys and applicants with a foreign law degree, it may take up to nine months to receive a report back from the NCBE. Attorney applicants will not be allowed to sit for the exam if the WSBA does not receive a report back from the NCBE at least 18 days prior to the first day of the exam. Therefore, attorney applicants are advised that they may not be able to sit for the exam for which they applied. Furthermore, foreign attorneys and applicants with a foreign law degree should not expect to be able to sit for the exam for which they applied and should therefore plan to apply during the application period for the exam prior to the one they want to sit for.

All applicants will be given the option to transfer their registration fees and application to the next exam, if the character and fitness review is not complete or the NCBE report is not received by the appropriate deadline. Applicants may also choose to withdraw from the exam and receive a partial refund if the request is made at least 60 days prior to the first day of the exam.

Note: Any discrepancy or conflict between the information provided here and the rules and regulations set by the Washington State Supreme Court, or the bylaws and policies of the Washington State Bar Association, is unintentional and will be resolved in favor of strict compliance with the rules, regulations, bylaws and policies.

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