Bar Admissions, Exam, and Preparation

The rules and regulations relative to admission to the practice of law vary from state to state. For the specific requirements, reference should be made to the statutes, rules of court, and the Board of Bar Examiners in the particular state in which the student intends to seek admission. In general, a written examination conducted by a state agency is a prerequisite to admission.

The National Conference of Bar Examiners is a great resource for Bar Exam information and testing resources beyond commercial providers. Their website is: http://www.ncbex.org/

  1. Certification for the Bar

    The character and fitness section of every State Bar will require any and all law schools attended by the student to certify that the candidate applying for the Bar: attended the law school in question; has been conferred the J.D. degree; or whether he/she incurred any disciplinary action (example: violation of Code of Student Discipline) by the law school in question. This certification form must be submitted to the Registrar's Office (309) and it is often included in the bar application for each state. The student must also execute a written release authorization form before the Registrar's Office can release any information to a State's Board of Bar Examiners.

  2. Character and Fitness Application

    Students should check with their respective State Bar for character and fitness filing deadlines, application information, and requirements. Most state boards will accept character and fitness applications during a student's final year of law school. However, there are a few states which require students to submit their character and fitness applications during their first year. Some state bars even provide discounts on application fees for early application and penalties for third-year or late application filings.

    Students must make a "diligent" and "good faith effort" to disclose all requested and relevant information for a State Bar application for character and fitness review.

    If students have any questions or concerns regarding their Character and Fitness application they should visit the Office of Student Engagement to speak with the Assistant Dean or Assistant Director. Students can also send Character and Fitness application questions via e-mail to oselaw@law.msu.edu.

  3. Duty to Report and Amend/Update

    Students have an ongoing duty to disclose and report any changes to information filed on their law school application as soon as they are admitted to MSU Law and during their tenure here. Many students have faced delays or denial of their bar application by a State Character and Fitness section for failing to disclose any changes to MSU College of Law.

    Students can avoid this by reporting any incident that involves a criminal charge, conviction, disciplinary action, or bankruptcy that occurred between admission and their first day of classes at the Law College via an amendment letter.

    Students are also strongly encouraged to report to the Law College any criminal charge, conviction, disciplinary action, or bankruptcy that occurs after beginning law school. It is in a student's best interest to disclose any thing that may appear as a discrepancy to the State Bar during the review of their character and fitness application.

  4. Amendment/Update Student File Requests

    Before beginning the bar application process students should request a copy of their law school application and student file from the Registrar's Office. Transfer students: Remember to also request a copy of your law school application and student file from your former law school.

    Students are solely responsible for ensuring that the information they submitted on their law school application matches the information submitted on the Bar exam application.

    Students “amend” their law student application if there was an omission of information that should have been included at the time they applied to law school. Students “update” their file if an event occurred after submitting their law school application. 

    Amendments and updates to the student file must be addressed and submitted to the Vice Dean for Academic Affairs (amendment/update procedure outlined here). The amendment/update should be in letter format, stating that the student wishes to amend their law school application and/or update their student file, and provide the circumstances surrounding the amendment/update. Approved amendments/updates will be placed in the student's official record and their application/student file is updated accordingly.

    In addition, if the written request was made in the amendment/update letter to do so, the Registrar's Office will notify the appropriate State Bar Character and Fitness section of the amendment/update. The letter should include a request for the Law College to notify the specific State Bar's character and fitness department involved that the law school application/student file has been update. Students should include the State Bar department name and contact information including name, mailing address, file number (if there is one), and any other relevant information that will ensure the notice reaches the correct department.

  5. Qualifications for Admission to the Michigan Bar

    A person is qualified for admission to the bar of this state who proves to the satisfaction of the board of law examiners that he or she (1) is a person of good moral character, (2) is 18 years of age or older, (3) has the required general education, learning in the law, and fitness and ability to enable him or her to practice law in the courts of record of this state, and that he or she (4) intends in good faith to practice or teach law in this state. Additional requirements concerning the qualifications for admission are contained in subsequent sections of this chapter. As used in this subsection, "good moral character" means good moral character as defined and determined under 1974 PA 381, MCL 338.41 to 338.47." – M.C.L.A. 600.934(1)

    In Michigan, applicants for admission to the Bar must satisfactorily pass a written examination given by the State Board of Law Examiners and the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination.

    See Rule 2(D) of the Rules for the Board of Law Examiners.

    Applicants for admission also are required to satisfy a committee of the State Bar of Michigan that they are morally qualified to practice law.

    Applicants for admission to the Bar of Michigan and other states are required to disclose information concerning their character and fitness to practice law, including prior criminal convictions, to the appropriate Bar admitting authority.


Updated: July 17, 2018

Student Handbook