Graduation & Bar Certification
As your three (or more) years of legal education draw to a close, there may be a temptation to focus on your studies and dash toward the finish line. But in order to ensure you meet all degree requirements and prepare for admission to the bar, there are a number of steps to take in your third year. We have compiled here the information you need to complete your legal education and prepare for admission to practice.
Graduation Assessment forms will be provided to third-year J.D. students early in Fall semester, and to LL.M. students early in Spring semester. This form is used to determine whether a student will meet all requirements for graduation by the conclusion of the Spring semester. Forms must be completed and returned to the Registrar's Office in order for a student to be cleared for graduation. This is an extremely important step towards graduation. Students who are off campus during the Fall semester prior to graduation should be sure to check their University email regularly for graduation assessment information.
An Application for Degree form for the J.D. degree and LL.M. degree must be completed for all students graduating in December 2013 or May 2014. Completed applications must be turned in to the Law School Information Desk. Contact the Registrar's Office at firstname.lastname@example.org or Room 285 with questions.
Bar – Application Process
Applying for the bar in Minnesota and other states is an extensive and time-consuming process. Admission requirements vary by state, and students are urged to research the requirements, timelines, and standards for the bar(s) of the state(s) in which they intend to apply at least six months before the scheduled exam date.
For a comprehensive guide to the bar application process from the National Conference of Bar Examiners, and for a list of links to bar admissions offices in all 50 states, visit: http://www.ncbex.org/bar-admissions/.
For information about application to the Minnesota bar, see: http://www.ble.state.mn.us/.
Bar – Certification of Graduation
State bars require that the Law School certify applicants as having met all Juris Doctor degree requirements in order to sit for the bar exam. The Law School Registrar's Office tracks the deadlines and certification requirements for each state to which graduates intend to apply, and keeps detailed lists of certifications by state and by student. State bar certification forms are prepared by the Registrar's Office based on students' Graduation Assessment forms and their transcript records. Certifications are forwarded to the Dean or Dean's delegate for signature, and then submitted directly to the bar examiners in each state. Students intending to apply for the bar outside of Minnesota should submit the appropriate state bar certification form to the Registrar's Office at least one month prior to the certification deadline. The Registrar's Office carefully tracks the bar certification deadlines for each state bar in order to ensure that completed certifications are received in a timely fashion. For questions about your specific certification, contact the Registrar's Office.
If a bar applicant has not completed ALL Juris Doctor degree requirements, the Law School cannot forward a bar certification, and the applicant may not be able to sit for the bar exam. Students with incomplete coursework are responsible for finishing all required assignments, and for following up with the faculty member and Registrar's Office to ensure a grade is entered.
Bar – Character and Fitness Evaluation Process
The Character and Fitness evaluation process is a critical part of bar admission in most states, and students are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the expectations for practice early in their law school careers. All students should carefully review the character and fitness requirements for the state in which they intend to practice. Links to state bar examiners can be located at: http://www.ncbex.org/character-and-fitness/.
To familiarize students with the Character and Fitness evaluation process, representatives of the Minnesota State Board of Law Examiners addresses students at the beginning and end of their educational experience.
For information about Minnesota's Character and Fitness evaluation process, see: http://ble.state.mn.us/character-and-fitness/
For admissions standards in other states, consult the applicable state bar admissions website.
Student records, including law school applications, may be reviewed by the Board of Law Examiners as part of the Character and Fitness evaluation process. Inconsistencies between the information disclosed on a student's law school application and his or her bar application may subject the applicant to further scrutiny, and require an amendment to his or her law school application. Students who have disciplinary or criminal problems that occur after they begin law school are also required to amend their applications. For information on this process, review the Law School's application amendment policy and consult the Dean of Students office.
Other bar admission questions and concerns of a confidential nature may also be addressed to the Dean of Students Office or directly to the bar authority in the state where the student expects to practice. The Minnesota Board of Law Examiners has a helpful brochure with an overview of character and fitness concerns on its website. Students are especially encouraged to seek consultation early in their law school career if they have a history of alcohol or chemical dependency, criminal matters, academic misconduct, significant mental health impairments, or other concerns that may relate to the ability to meet requirements of practice. Students should note that no single condition or incident will automatically prevent admission to the bar; rather, bar examiners encourage students to directly address and treat any condition that may lead to a conduct concern or impair an individual's ability to comply with practice standards. Some states, including Minnesota, have also introduced a Conditional Admissions process, which allows a bar applicant with recent impairments to be admitted to practice under certain conditions and supervision. Evidence of current fitness and rehabilitation from past impairments are often important considerations in the Character and Fitness evaluation process. Therefore, seeking appropriate support or treatment is strongly encouraged. Minnesota Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers is an independent non-profit organization that provides support, advice, mentoring, and referrals to law students or bar applicants who have struggled with impairments that may impact fitness to practice.