Skills Competency Requirement for LLM Students

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Candidates for admission to the New York bar must show competency to provide legal services in the state of New York in order to meet the Skills Competency and Professional Values Bar Admission Requirement under rule 520.18.  Please note that this is not a requirement for eligibility to take the New York bar exam, but it must be demonstrated for admission (finalizing bar membership) after passing the exam.

Applicants to the bar may satisfy the Skills requirement by completing one of five separate pathways contained in §520.18. Pathways one through three focus on courses and work experiences completed during an applicant's legal education.  Pathway two is most relevant for LLM students beginning their career. Completing the basic courses required for bar exam eligibility at the same time as the skills courses required under Pathway two could be challenging, but extending the LLM for another semester or two offers an excellent way to complete both.

Pathways four and five allow an applicant to rely on practical experiences outside of law school.  Because most LLM students will likely be able to satisfy this requirement using the fourth and fifth pathways, this will first describe those pathways. Students who are unable to satisfy Pathway four or five will want to consider pathway two, as described below.

Pathway 4 (Apprenticeship)

To satisfy the requirement under Pathway 4, an applicant must complete a six-month full-time paid or unpaid apprenticeship in a law office in the United States or in a law office in another country (full-positions are generally understood to mean 37-40 hours of work per week; part-time positions are generally understood to mean 20-25 hours of work per week.). The apprenticeship must be for a continuous six-month period and must start after the conclusion of the applicant’s first degree in law program.

The apprenticeship must be under the supervision of one or more attorneys who have, for at least two years, been in good standing and authorized to practice law in the country, territory or commonwealth where the apprenticeship takes place. 

Pathway 5 (Practice in another jurisdiction)

To satisfy the requirement under Pathway 5, an applicant who has been authorized to practice law in another U.S. jurisdiction or another country must submit proof that the applicant has been in good standing and practiced law in that jurisdiction full-time for at least one year or half-time for two years following the applicant's authorization to practice.  Formal admission to another country’s bar is not a requirement under this pathway as long as all of other requirements are met.

Pathway 2 (15 credit hours of practice-based experiential coursework)

To satisfy the requirements under Pathway 2, the Experiential Coursework pathway, an applicant must complete 15 credits of practice-based experiential courses as defined by the American Bar Association. Many Duke Law School courses are practice-based experiential courses. Students may earn up to six credits through non-credit bearing summer employment either in the United States or abroad, as long as it is supervised by an attorney in good standing in any state or territory of the United States or the District of Columbia. At least 50 hours of full-time employment is required for each substituted credit.

Applicants whose legal education is not based on common law principles and who are, therefore, required to complete an LLM program in the U.S. in order to establish eligibility for the New York bar under rule §520.6, will need to complete a total of 27 credits, including 12 non-experiential credits required by rule §520(b)(3)(vi). Duke offers an additional semester in which to complete both requirements.

For additional details and to check for updates, please see the New York State Board of Law Examiners page