The term “bar” in bar exam and bar association refers to the community of licenced lawyers. It is derived from the physical rail or bar that separates the gallery from the section of the courtroom where the attorneys, parties, judge, and jury sit. Therefore, attorneys must literally “pass the bar” before entering a courtroom.
The Role of the Bar
Many non-profit legal organisations refer to themselves as ” bar associations “. These organisations exist for their members’ educational and professional development. They frequently focus on a specific group of lawyers, such as the New York Women’s Bar Association.
To practise law, each state also requires membership in the state bar. Either the state bar is a part of the state court system or the state court system has delegated authority to the state bar.
This required state bar association governs:
- Admittance of new attorneys
- Legal practise in the state
New York’s system is unusual because it divides these responsibilities between two distinct entities, as opposed to a single entity responsible for both. The New York State Board of Law Examiners administers the bar examination for all prospective New York attorneys. The Appellate Divisions of the New York State Supreme Court oversee the regulation of attorneys and handle complaints.
New York is also unique in that its state bar is an integral part of its court system. The Florida Bar and The State Bar of California are among the many other state bar associations. The courts in these states delegate to their official state bar associations the authority to regulate and discipline attorneys.
In New York, the courts retained this authority, and as a result, the New York bar is not a separate organisation but rather a division of the courts.
Becoming a Member of the Bar
New York has three general requirements for admission to the bar:
In the majority of states, candidates must graduate from an ABA-accredited law school. New York’s educational and training requirements are more flexible.
In New York, you are eligible to take the bar exam if you:
- A graduate of an ABA-approved law school.
- Studied at an ABA-accredited law school and a law office.
- Graduated from an unaccredited law school and practised law for five years in another state.
- A graduate of a foreign law school with a curriculum equivalent to that of a U.S. law school.
The majority of New York bar applicants hold a degree from an ABA-accredited law school.
The New York State Bar Examination tests fundamental areas of law that all attorneys should be familiar with, such as:
- Contract legislation
- Real estate law
- Civil procedure
- United States and New York criminal law constitutional law
- Commercial law
- Civil law (the basis of personal injury, premises liability , and other negligence claims)
In July of 2021, 63 percent of applicants passed.
Applicants to the New York bar are required to have a relatively spotless record. New York can reject a candidate for admission to the bar based on any evidence of poor moral character, including:
- arrears in child support
- Verdicts and convictions
- Alcohol or drug abuse
- Academic discipline
- Professional indecency
A candidate who was disciplined by a contractor’s board for recklessness in a construction accident, for instance, could be rejected.
Bar Resources for Clients
New York offers numerous resources to clients. You can verify an attorney’s licence online or over the phone. You can also contact the courts to inquire about a lawyer’s disciplinary record.
If you have a complaint against a lawyer, you can contact the New York Appellate Divisions’ Attorney Grievance Committee. A complaint will initiate an investigation that may result in disbarment.
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