A law student must take several steps in order to take the bar exam and practice law in California, including those listed below. Some of the associated fees also are noted below. For a list of all fees linked to the bar exam itself, see the Fees and Charges page (pdf) of the State Bar website (scroll down to "Title 4").
This information is subject to change without notice by the California State Bar, so always confirm with the current information posted at https://www.calbar.ca.gov or call the State Bar Main Office at 415.538.2000.
This is the ~$100 fee you probably paid during your first year. You do NOT have to re-register if you did so before. If you did not register during your first year, do so now. The deadline is rolling, but the amount increases each year. This is a separate step from applying to take the bar exam (see below).
Apply and find more information at https://www.ncbex.org.
The MPRE is administered in March, August, and November. As of 2018, it costs $125. A passing score in California currently is 86 or higher.
You do not have to pass the MPRE prior to sitting for the bar exam, but you must pass it before you can be admitted to practice. We do not recommend waiting until August after graduation to take the MPRE, because usually it is administered the weekend following the bar exam.
This application is available at https://www.calbar.ca.gov and there is no deadline, but the fee increases each year. The application fee as of 2018 was $551.
The application is not difficult to complete, but it is time consuming. There are very detailed instructions that you must read carefully. You need multiple professional and personal references, including at least one member of a state bar, and the Committee WILL contact them. You must also list past residences and employment information reaching many years (sometimes decades) into the past, and you must arrange to provide live scan fingerprints. A list of fingerprinting companies is available at https://www.calbar.ca.gov, but one also comes to campus each year; contact the Office of Student Affairs for more information.
You may sit for the CA Bar Exam before receiving a positive Moral Character determination, but you may not be sworn in or practice law, even if you pass the bar and MPRE. Submit your application at least six months before your expected results date (results are released in May for the February bar and in November for the July bar). The winter holiday break is a great time to secure references and complete the application.
Application materials are available at https://www.calbar.ca.gov on Oct. 1 for the February exam, and on March 1 for the July exam. As of 2018 the application fee was $677, plus $153 if you plan to use a laptop computer to take the exam.
Apply ASAP to avoid late fees and secure your spot at your preferred test center. Some locations, especially those in southern CA, fill up quickly.
Note: because McGeorge is an ABA-accredited law school, you do not need to worry about the First Year Law Students' Exam, a/k/a the "FYLSX" or the "Baby Bar."
California Board of Law Examiners
180 Howard St.
San Francisco, CA 94105-1639
San Francisco Telephone: 415.538.2300
Los Angeles Telephone: 213.765.1500
The California Bar Exam typically is administered on the last Tuesday and Wednesday of February and July.
The California Bar Exam is a two-day exam.
"Closed universe" practical problem using instructions, factual data, cases, statutes and other reference material supplied by examiners.
A scaled score of 86 on the MPRE is required for admission.
The written portion (Day 1) and MBE portion (Day 2) of the CA Bar Exam are equally weighted with each worth 50% of the final score. A passing score of 1,440 on a 2,000 point scale is required, based on the combined scaled scores of the California Performance Test, the essay questions and the MBE.
Results from the February exam are released in May. Results from the July exam are released in November.
Bar Study Loans are available to graduating students to cover the cost of Bar Exam expenses, such as Bar application fees and living expenses incurred while studying for the Bar Exam. Bar Loans are private loans that require credit approval by independent lenders and eligibility depends on criteria established by the lender.
Not all lenders offer Bar Study Loans so you need to pursue many different lenders to find the right one for you. Since these loans are for study outside McGeorge, it is your responsibility to investigate and apply for the Bar loan amounts you need.
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