The New York Bar

The New York Bar application and examination each have some unique requirements and processes that make it different than other jurisdictions.  This page offers guidance for successfully completing those requirements and processes.  Comprehensive information about the New York Bar application and examination is provided on the New York State Board of Law Examiners website at http://www.nybarexam.org and in the New York State Bar Information Guide.

NY Bar Exam Components

Applicants to the New York Bar must successfully complete the following three components of the bar exam:

Skills Competency Requirement

For JD students who entered law school after August 1, 2016, the New York bar has implemented a Skills Competency Requirement. New York skills competency requires that students have at least 15 credit hours of practice-based experiential learning while in law school. Six of these 15 credits maybe conveyed through summer employment experience at a rate of 50 hours per credit. This amounts to 300 hours, which is 7.5 weeks of full-time (40 hours/week) work. Summer employment that qualifies for certification of the New York Skills Competency Requirement will meet all of the following criteria:

  • The student will be supervised by an attorney in good standing in any state or territory of the United States of the District of Columbia.
  • The supervising attorney must certify to the law school the beginning and ending dates of the employment, that the student satisfactorily completed the employment, and that the work experience:
    • Provided the student with an initial orientation session;
    • Implemented a system for assignments that assured that the student was actually engaged in the performance of legal work, including a diversity of tasks, as part of the ongoing practical work of the law office during normal business hours and throughout the required period;
    • Provided the student with experience and guidance in the skills and values required for basic competence and ethical participation in the legal profession;
    • Gave the student timely oral and written feedback;
    • Engaged the student in reflection on his/her experiences and learning during the employment.

So that the Law School, when the time comes for you to apply to the bar, may certify your compliance with any state’s skills competency requirement, we ask that you fill out this STUDENT SURVEY about your summer work experience, and ask your summer employer(s) to fill out this EMPLOYER SURVEY as well.

Here are a few FAQs that we anticipate about this process:

  • Should I document my unpaid summer employment? Yes, the employment may be paid or unpaid. This also includes students who have been awarded a stipend or fellowship by the Law School, PILF, or a third-party organization.
  • I split my summer between two employers, may I enter both into the survey? Yes, please document the two experiences in the survey and forward the employer link to both employers.
  • I worked abroad this summer – may I count employment in a foreign country? Yes, as long as the work is supervised by an attorney in good standing in any state or territory of the United States or District of Columbia and meets all of the other criteria.
  • The jurisdiction where I plan to apply for the bar also has a pro bono service requirement, may I double count this experiential learning as pro bono? Please refer to your state board of bar/law examiners website for information about whether hours counting toward another of the state’s bar requirements can also be counted as pro bono hours.
  • What if I don’t decide until my 2L or 3L year to apply to the bar in a jurisdiction with an experiential learning requirement – can I do this survey later? You can do the survey at any time. However, because we must also have information from your employer in order to certify you to the bar, we recommend that you do the survey in as close proximity to your summer internship as possible.

Pro Bono Requirement

Applicants to the NY Bar have a mandatory 50-hour pro bono requirement.  The 50 hours of pro bono service must be completed between the time a person enters law school and the time they are sworn-in to the NY Bar.  This requirement may be fulfilled by pro bono work during the academic year or during summer employment. A list of qualifying pro bono work, including clinics, externships and summer employment (internships), is provided on the NY pro bono FAQ at questions 11 and 12.

For pro bono service opportunities during the academic year, please contact the Office of Public Interest & Pro Bono.

To document summer pro bono work, your employer must complete the Form Affidavit for the Pro Bono Requirement before the conclusion of your internship.  Please note the following specific instructions for the form:

  • You are the “Applicant”
  • The form requires very specific details about the pro bono work, including the following:
    • Type of service provided or legal issues addressed
    • Communities, organizations, or populations served
    • The name or type of legal office for which you performed the pro bono service
  • Your supervising attorney must sign the affidavit. The supervising attorney must sign before you do.
  • You must also sign the affidavit, and your signature must be witnessed by a notary public. The supervising attorney’s signature does not need to be notarized.

The hard copy form with original signatures must be filed with the NY Bar when you apply for admission (after passing the bar exam).  Please be sure to keep the document in a secure location.  Additional information about the NY Bar pro bono requirement is available on the NY Courts website, and their FAQ page.  If you have further questions, please contact the NY Pro Bono Office at probonorule@nycourts.gov.

Certificate of Attendance

The New York Board of Law Examiners requires, in lieu of an official transcript, that the Law School certify each JD applicant’s academic history via a Certificate of Attendance.  This section provides instructions for JD applicants to the New York Bar. 

International LLM students must submit a transcript to the NY BOLE, and also complete a different version of the Certificate of Attendance, and therefore should refer to information provided by International Studies about the New York Bar Exam.

In addition to the information provided here, applicants must also review the NYBOLE’s JD Certificate of Attendance Instructions, as well as their Rules for Admission Based on Study of Law in Law School to be sure that they accurately complete this portion of the bar application.

With regard to the Certificate of Attendance, the following instructions are specific to Duke Law School JD applicants:

Question 1 – total number of credits awarded

  • JD students:  the answer here is 87 credits (perhaps plus a few extra if you took additional classes).
  • JD-LLM students:  the answer is still 87 credits.  The NY Bar wants to know the total number of credits earned toward your JD degree.  The additional credits earned toward your LLM are not counted here.
  • JD-Masters students:  the answer is also 87 for you.  You have earned 75 law credits and a minimum of 12 credits in your other degree program.  We are counting those 12 non-law credits toward your JD degree to reach 87, and the NY Bar recognizes this.  If you put 75, it will appear that you do not meet the minimum of 83 credits required to be eligible for the NY Bar.

Question 3 – credits for field placement programs and externships

This includes, for example, the Duke in DC and Federal Public Defender programs, and local externships.  Enter the total credits for externship, plus the classroom component and final paper (if any) earned here…

Question 3A

…then also break out the number of credits earned for the classroom component (again) here.

Question 5 - professional responsibility stand-alone courses

This only applies to courses that teach the Model Rules of Professional Conduct.  Readings in Ethics courses should not be counted here.

Question 6 – joint degree courses and non-law courses

"Non-law" courses are courses that are taught in a different department and have only one course number signaling the department in which it is taught (i.e., a Sanford course with course number "PUBPOL 123").  If the course is shared/cross-listed between the Law School and another department and shows on your academic record as "LAW 123" then it does not count as a non-law course.  An example of this is LAW 324 Corporate Restructuring which is cross-listed with Fuqua under course number FINANCE 455.

  • JD students:  if you took a non-law course and are counting those 3 credits toward your JD, enter them here.
  • JD-LLM students:  same as JD students, include a non-law course only if you are counting the 3 credits toward your JD.
  • JD-Masters students:  enter here the 12 credits from your other program of study, which we are counting toward your JD degree to reach 87.

After the application period closes the NY BOLE will send you a copy of your Certificate of Attendance with your information filled in based on the answers that you submit online.  The BOLE will also send a copy to Dean Barnes for verification (you do not need to forward the document to Dean Barnes).  If there is a mistake on your certificate, Dean Barnes is permitted to make corrections on your behalf, and will email a corrected version of the document to you for your records.

After grades are posted an degrees conferred in June, we will send all Certificates of Attendance via FedEx to the NY BOLE.

Transcript Request

JD applicants to the NY Bar are not required to submit a law school transcript to the NY BOLE.  LLM applicants to the NY Bar are required to submit a Duke Law School transcript to the NY BOLE with your final semester grades posted and degree conferred.  To complete this process, please make a transcript request as follows:

  • Fill out the Duke University Transcript Request Form
  • In the box for “recipient name and mailing address or fax number” state PICKUP REQUEST APPROVED FOR LAW SCHOOL RERESENTATIVE.
  • Number of copies: 1
    • If you require additional copies of your transcript, please request those separately.
  • Select DO NOT PLACE EACH TRANSCRIPT IN A SEPARATE ENVELOPE.
  • Where the form states “If you want us to delay sending your transcript(s), please check the reason(s):” check both boxes PLEASE WAIT UNTIL MY GRADES HAVE BEEN POSTED FOR THIS TERM and PLEASE WAIT UNTIL MY DEGREE HAS BEEN POSTED.
  • Drop the form off to Dean Barnes in the Office of Student Affairs.  Note: the Law School Registrar’s Office cannot process your transcript request.

After grades are posted in early June, we will obtain your transcript from the University Registrar and send it, with the Certificate of Attendance, via FedEx to the NY BOLE prior to the June 15 deadline.

Handwriting Specimen

The Registrar’s Office will schedule several drop-in dates in April for NY Bar applicants to have their handwriting specimen witnessed.

New York Bar Handwriting Verification Drop-In Sessions for July 2018 Exam:

  1. Wednesday, 4/4 – 2:00-4:00 pm, Rm 4172;
  2. Monday, 4/9 – 10:00-12:00 pm, Rm 4044;
  3. Thursday, 4/12 – 12:30-3:30 pm, Rm 4040; and
  4. Tuesday, 4/17 – 2:00-4:00 pm, Rm 3171.

To have your handwriting specimen witnessed on one of the dates listed above, please follow these instructions:

  1. Print the form provided at http://www.nybarexam.org/Docs/HandwritingSampleForm.pdf.
  2. Write your BOLE ID # in the top right corner. Use of a Social Security Number is strongly discouraged.
  3. Please do not fill out the form in advance, as your handwriting must be done in the presence of a Law School representative to fulfill the NY BOLE requirement.

If you need to have your handwriting specimen witnessed outside of the Law School, you may bring it to a Notary Public as an alternative.

Form Law School Certificate

The NY BOLE conducts its character and fitness investigation after you have passed the bar exam, using a form titled the Form Law School Certificate. Please submit your Form Law School Certificate to the Law School Registrar’s Office, attn: Meredith Chilausky, as follows:

  • Hard copy forms – bring to the Registrar’s Office, Room 2027
  • Faxed forms – send to the Registrar’s Office at 919-613-7285
  • Electronic copy forms – send to Registrar_Office@law.duke.edu

The Registrar’s Office works with the Office of Student Affairs to process character and fitness forms with attention to the jurisdiction’s deadline for submitting the form.  Please indicate or highlight on your Form Law School Certificate what your jurisdiction’s deadline is. 

There is a two-week turnaround for processing all bar forms.  If your Form Law School Certificate must be filed with the state bar two weeks before your swearing-in, then you must submit the form to Ms. Chilausky four weeks before your swearing-in.  Applicants who submit their Form Law School Certificate close to the deadline must keep in mind that the Registrar’s Office and Student Affairs could be processing a high volume of forms from current student and recent graduate bar applicants at any given time, and will do their best to meet a close deadline within reason. 

Questions that appear on the Form Law School Certificate typically address the conduct and integrity of the applicant. Additionally, bar examiners often investigate whether any disclosures made to the bar were also made during the law school admission process.  Questions on the Form Law School Certificate include the following:

  • Was applicant charged with any misconduct, or disciplined, suspended, or dropped for misconduct?
  • Is there any other discreditable information in the personnel or other records of the law school regarding the applicant’s conduct or activities or bearing upon applicant’s character not otherwise set forth in this form?

If you have questions about information to be disclosed on your character and fitness form, please contact Assistant Dean for Student Affairs Lewis Hutchison.