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/
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.
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.
The Office of Student Engagement hosts a character and fitness application information session every Fall semester for students graduating during the upcoming academic year. In addition, the State Bar of Michigan Section on Character and Fitness offers a workshop for graduating students every Fall and Spring semester to address common questions and concerns regarding the Character and Fitness application for the Michigan Bar.
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 Associate/Assistant Dean or Associate/Assistant Director. Students can also send Character and Fitness application questions via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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 Associate 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.
Commercial Bar Courses
The Office of Student Engagement does not endorse any one commercial bar preparation program. However, most MSU Law alums have taken BarBRI™ and/or Kaplan PMBR™.
Most commercial vendors will provide students a discount for signing up during their first or second year. In addition, students could receive additional discounts for being a law student member of the American Bar Association (ABA).
Students should be wary of various commercial bar preparation vendors "promises" or "guarantees" of passing; most bar preparation vendors cannot guarantee a 100% pass rate. Just a reminder: there is nothing like good old-fashioned hard work, practice, and effort when it comes to studying for the Bar Exam. Remember the marathon runner!
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 (www.courts.michigan.gov/supremecourt/bdoflawexaminers) and the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (http://www.ncbex.org/multistate-tests/mpre/).
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.
FBI and out-of-state fingerprint cards can be presented to the MSU campus police. Fingerprinting is conducted for a nominal service fee ($5) and covers as many fingerprint cards as you have during your visit. The MSU campus police office (DPPS) is located near Trowbridge and Cedar. Note: They only offer this service during specified times of the week. The fingerprinting schedule is as follows: Mondays and Wednesdays 10:00 am - 2:00 pm (fall 2009). Note: Call DPPS in advance to confirm fingerprinting hours as these can vary by semester.
Bar Exam Subjects and Components
The curriculum of Michigan State University College of Law is designed to provide its students with a thorough preparation for the bar examination.
Students should check the State Bar website for the list of subjects tested on that state's Bar Examination. Many jurisdictions require state law subjects as part of their Bar examination.
Students can also verify whether the jurisdiction administers the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE), Multistate Essay Examination (MEE), Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE), and/or Multistate Performance Test (MPT) for their Bar Examination.
If additional funding is needed for bar-related expenses or to assist with expenses during that time, students may apply for a bar loan and be approved by the private lender they select. Most bar loan lenders require certification by the financial aid office as part of the application, but the loan check is sent directly to the student. Bar loans can be certified no earlier than six (6) months before the student's graduation and no later than twelve (12) months after graduation. Additional bar loan information can be found at: http:// www.law.msu.edu/finaid/bar_loans.html
"Resident" Definition for International Students
In Michigan, "The Board of Law Examiners will consider a person to be a U.S. resident for purposes of M.C.L.A. 600.934 if that person is a U.S. citizen or is a foreign citizen lawfully resident in the U.S. pursuant to a visa issued by the Bureau of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)." Therefore, international students with a valid visa, including an F1 visa, will be permitted to sit for the Michigan State Bar Exam and practice in the State, provided they maintain a valid visa from the Bureau of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Updated February 18, 2016