The Board of Bar Examiners and the Character and Fitness Committee oversee the process of admission to the Vermont bar. Once the Board has determined your eligibility, the Character and Fitness Committee will certify your character and fitness to serve. Your application will then be considered by the Supreme Court for Admission to the Vermont Bar.
The Rules of Admission to the Bar of the Vermont Supreme Court set out three paths to admission to the state's bar:
- Admission by examination
- Admission by transferred Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) score
- Admission without examination
In order to be eligible for admission to the bar, you must:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Be a US citizen or an alien who is lawfully present in the US
- Meet the character and fitness requirements set out in the Rules of Admission, and
- Demonstrate minimal professional competence by satisfying the requirements for admission by examination, transferred UBE score, or without examination.
Admission by Examination. The Board of Bar Examiners or its designee reviews your application. You will be notified if you meet the criteria to sit for the Vermont bar exam (Rules 6, 8, 9). Once you pass the exam, the Character and Fitness Committee will review your application.
Admission Without Examination. The Board of Bar Examiners reviews your application. If the board determines that you meet the criteria for admission without examination (Rules 14, 15), the board will forward your application to the Character and Fitness Committee for review.
Admission by Transferred UBE Score. The Board of Bar Examiners or its designee reviews your application. If it decides that you have met the requirements for admission by transferred UBE score (Rule 13), it will forward your application to the Character and Fitness Committee for review.
The Vermont Supreme Court adopted the Uniform Bar Exam in February 2016. In Vermont the UBE is given twice a year, in February and July. Applications for the February exam are due December 1. Applications for the July exam are due May 1. A passing score in Vermont is 270 or higher.
In order to sit for the UBE in Vermont, you must have:
- Graduated from an approved law school or satisfied the requirements for early examination or
- Completed the Law Office Study Program or
- Graduated from a nonapproved Law School, if you have met the equivalency requirements.
Additionally you should:
- Take the UBE within five years of having graduated from law school or completing the Law Office Study program
- Take all parts of the UBE at a single administration of the exam, and
- Not have failed the UBE on four or more occasions.
Nonapproved US Law Schools
If you have graduated from a US law school that has not been approved by the American Bar Association (ABA), you may apply to take the bar exam in Vermont. You are asked to establish that the law school was in the process of obtaining ABA approval during the time you attended and has not since been denied accreditation. You should also provide an official transcript of your course of study, including your date of graduation. Your application is due at the Board of Bar Examiners by December 1 for the February bar exam and by May 1 for the July bar exam. For further information, see Rule 8 of the Rules of Admission.
Foreign Law Schools
If you have graduated from a law school outside the United States, you may apply to take the bar exam in Vermont. You will need to establish that the education you obtained is equivalent to that from an ABA-approved school in the United States. An application for equivalency determination is here:
This application is due by December 1 for the February bar exam and by May 1 for the July bar exam. You bear the cost of the equivalency determination. For further information, see Rule 8 of the Rules of Admission.
Law Office Study
The Law Office Study (LOS) program requires you to work under the supervision of an experienced attorney for four years and to follow a suggested course of study. If you complete the LOS program, you may be eligible to sit for the bar exam.
In order to enroll in the LOS, you should have a bachelor’s degree from a college or university within the United States that is authorized to grant a bachelor’s degree by the law of the state in which it is located. The specific requirements of the LOS program appear in Rule 7 of the Rules of Admission.
If you have a disability and need to request an accommodation for the bar exam, you may fill out the application below:
Requests for accommodations for the February exam are due December 1. Requests for accommodations for the July exam are due May 1.
The Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE)
The MPRE is an exam administered by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) that measures comprehension of accepted professional practices of attorneys. In addition to achieving a passing score (270 or greater) on the bar exam, you must achieve a score of 80 or higher on the MPRE no earlier than three years before taking the bar exam, or one year after being notified of passing the UBE, to advance in the admissions process.
You may move for admission to the Vermont bar by transferring your Uniform Bar Examination score from another UBE jurisdiction. You must arrange for the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) to transfer your UBE score to Vermont.
If you apply for admission by transferred UBE score, you must have:
- Graduated from an approved law school or satisfied the requirements for early examination in Rule 9(c)(5) or
- Completed the Law Office Study program or
- Graduated from a nonapproved law school, if you have met the equivalency requirements of Rule 8.
- You must have earned a UBE score of 270 or greater
- Your passing score must be recent, that is, you must have obtained it three years before the date on which you file your application or— if you have been actively engaged in the practice of law for at least two years in another US jurisdiction in which you were a member in good standing—you must have obtained the UBE score more than three years but less than five years before the date on which you file your application
- You must have achieved a score of 270 or greater at an administration of the UBE no later than five years after graduating from law school or completing the Law Office Study program
- You must have achieved the passing score in no more than four sittings of the UBE
Admission by Transferred UBE Score and The Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE)
In addition to the above, you need a score of 80 or greater on the MPRE taken no earlier than three years before the date you filed the application for admission by transferred UBE score.
If you are an attorney presently licensed in another US jurisdiction, you may apply for admission to the Vermont bar without examination.
- Be currently licensed in another US jurisdiction, in good standing, and not be suspended or disbarred
- Have been actively engaged in the practice of law for five of the 10 years immediately preceding the filing of the application (or, if you have been admitted in New Hampshire and Maine, you must have been actively engaged in the practice of law for no less than the three years immediately preceding the filing of the application)
- Not have failed the Vermont bar exam or scored lower than 270 on the UBE within the five years immediately preceding the filing of the application
If you are found eligible, the Character and Fitness Committee must certify your character and fitness before you can be admitted to the Vermont bar. It is important that the public, the legal system and the administration of justice be protected from those who possess dishonesty, or lack of trustworthiness. For the same reason, it is important that those who are physically or mentally unfit to carry the responsibilities of a lawyer be denied membership in the bar. It is your burden to establish that you possess the necessary moral character and fitness for admission to the Bar. Once you have been certified by the Character and Fitness Committee, your name is placed on the Board of Bar Examiner’s next motion for admission to the Supreme Court.
If the Character and Fitness Committee does not certify your character and fitness upon initial review, a hearing is held before a panel of the committee in accordance with Rules 16(e)(2) and 17 of the Rules of Admission. You may present testimony and admit evidence at that hearing to support your burden to prove character and fitness.
The Supreme Court considers motions for admission at its monthly administrative meetings. If the court approves the Board of Bar Examiner’s motion, you will be invited to join the bar.
Once approved by the Supreme Court, you have 90 days to:
- Take the Attorney’s Oath
- Complete and return the required licensing statement and forms, and
- Pay the licensing fee.
You are not authorized to practice law until you have completed the above steps.
You must complete a six-month mentorship with an attorney admitted to the Vermont bar for at least three years. Failure to file proof of compliance with this rule within one year of admission will result in administrative suspension.
There are fees associated with the admissions process. They can be found on the fee schedule approved by the Court Administrator’s Office.
Please note that the fees for application to the Vermont bar are in addition to the fee for the character investigation by the National Conference of Bar Examiners required of all applicants.