The Rules of Admission to the Bar of the Vermont Supreme Court set out three paths to admission to the Vermont bar:
- Admission by examination via the Uniform Bar Examination (UBE)
- Admission by transferred UBE score
- Admission without examination
To be eligible for admission to the Vermont bar, you must:
- Be at least 18 years old;
- Be a U.S. citizen or an alien who is lawfully present in the U.S.;
- 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.
If you are an attorney presently licensed in another U.S. jurisdiction, you may apply for admission to the Vermont bar without examination.
To be admitted without examination, you must:
- Be currently licensed in another U.S. jurisdiction, in good standing, and not be suspended or disbarred;
- Have been actively engaged in the practice of law for no less than five of the 10 years immediately preceding the filing of the application (or, if you have been admitted in New Hampshire and Maine, been actively engaged in the practice of law for no less than three years immediately preceding the filing of the application); and
- 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.
There are no educational prerequisites for admission without examination.
When you apply for admission without examination, be sure to include with your Vermont application a certificate of good standing from every jurisdiction in which you have been admitted, including federal jurisdictions.
For further information, see Rules 14 and 15 of the Rules of Admission.
The Vermont Supreme Court adopted the Uniform Bar Examination (UBE) in February 2016. The UBE is administered over two days. The first day consists of two Multistate Performance Test (“MPT”) essay questions and six Multistate Essay Examination (“MEE”) essay questions. The second day consists of the 200-question multiple-choice Multistate Bar Examination (“MBE”). You must take all parts of the UBE at a single administration of the exam. More information on the UBE can be found on the National Conference of Bar Examiners' website, www.ncbex.org.
The UBE is given twice a year in Vermont, in February and July, with the MBE given on the last Wednesday of the month and the MPT and MEE given on the Tuesday prior to that. The upcoming exam administrations are as follows:
February 25-26, 2020, Hilton Burlington, Burlington
July 28-29, 2020, Hilton Burlington, Burlington
Applications for the February exam are due the preceding December 1. Applications for the July exam are due the preceding May 1.
A passing score in Vermont is 270 or higher.
To be eligible to sit for the UBE in Vermont, you must:
- Meet the educational requirements;
- Take the UBE within five years of having graduated from law school or completing the Law Office Study Program (unless you are already licensed to practice law in another U.S. jurisdiction); and
- Not have failed the bar examination on four or more occasions. (Any attempts at a bar examination, regardless of jurisdiction, count towards this limit.)
For further information, see Rule 9 of the Rules of Admission.
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 and no later than one year after being notified of passing the UBE, to advance in the admissions process. You must arrange for the NCBE to report your MPRE score to Vermont.
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 report your UBE score to Vermont.
To be admitted by transferred UBE score, you must meet the following requirements:
- You must meet the educational requirements;
- You must have earned a passing UBE score of 270 or greater;
- Your passing score must have been achieved at an administration of the UBE no more than 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 U.S. jurisdiction in which you were a member in good standing—no more than five years before the date on which you file your application;
- Your passing score must have been achieved at an administration of the UBE no later than five years after graduating from law school or completing the Law Office Study Program; and
- You must have achieved the passing score in no more than four sittings of the UBE.
For further information, see Rule 13 of the Rules of Admission.
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 the above requirements, you must achieve 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. You must arrange for the NCBE to report your MPRE score to Vermont.
To sit for the UBE in Vermont or be admitted to the Vermont bar by transferred UBE score, you must meet certain educational requirements. Specifically, you must have:
- Graduated from an approved law school or satisfied the requirements for early examination in Rule 9(c)(5) of the Rules of Admission;
- Completed the Law Office Study Program; or
- Graduated from a nonapproved Law School, if you have met the equivalency requirements.
You do not need to meet these requirements for admission without examination. For further information, see Rule 8 of the Rules of Admission.
One way to satisfy the educational requirements for admission by examination and admission by transferred UBE score is by completing Vermont’s Law Office Study Program (“LOS Program”). The LOS Program requires you to work under the supervision of an experienced Vermont judge or attorney for four years and to follow a systematic course of study.
To be eligible for the LOS Program, you must have earned 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.
To enroll in the LOS Program, submit the following three documents to the Office of Attorney Licensing:
1. the completed LOS Program Registration;
2. the completed LOS Program Notice of Commencement; and
3. an official transcript of your undergraduate degree.
If you are currently enrolled in the LOS Program, here are some useful forms:
For specific recommendations from the Board of Bar Examiners on how LOS Program participants can increase the likelihood of achieving a passing score on the UBE, see here:
For further information on the Law Office Study Program, see Rule 7 of the Rules of Admission.
Interested in serving as an attorney supervisor for a participant in the Law Office Study Program? Contact Licensing Counsel Andrew Strauss at JUD.AttyLicensing@vermont.gov.
Nonapproved U.S. Law Schools
If you have graduated from a U.S. law school that has not been approved by the American Bar Association (ABA), you can satisfy the educational requirements for admission by examination and admission by transferred UBE score if you demonstrate that the law school you attended was in the process of obtaining ABA approval during the time you attended and has not since been denied accreditation. You must also provide an official transcript of your course of study, including your date of graduation.
Foreign Law Schools
If you have graduated from a law school outside the U.S., you can satisfy the educational requirements for admission by examination and admission by transferred UBE score if you establish that you have:
- completed a legal education at a foreign law school whose curriculum provided training in a system based on the common law of England and that is otherwise equivalent to graduation from an approved law school, as determined by the equivalency determination process; AND
- been admitted to the bar of a court of general jurisdiction in the country in which you attended the foreign law school and have maintained good standing in that bar or resigned from that bar while still in good standing. (The Board may waive this second requirement for good cause.)
To begin the equivalency determination process, you must submit the following application, along with all required documents and fees, to be received by the preceding December 1 to sit for the July bar exam and by the preceding August 1 to sit for the February bar exam:
The application fee is $50.00. However, if the Board of Bar Examiners determines that it is necessary to retain an expert to prepare a foreign equivalency report in your case, you will be notified and required to pay an additional $250 before such a report will be commissioned.
If you are unable to establish equivalency because your law school education was not based on the common law of England, you may cure this deficiency by obtaining an LLM degree from an ABA-approved law school in the U.S. The LLM degree must meet the specific requirements laid out in Rule 8(c)(4) of the Rules of Admission. If you wish to rely on this cure provision to meet the educational requirements, you must still complete and submit the application for foreign equivalency determination by the applicable deadlines. Your application must include an official transcript documenting your LLM degree.
NOTICE: The Rules of Admission (see Rules 9(b)(1) and 13(d)) require that a passing UBE score must be achieved at an administration of the UBE no later than 5 years after completing the necessary educational requirements, unless time is extended for good cause or the applicant is already currently licensed to practice law in another U.S. jurisdiction. As such, even if your application for foreign equivalency is granted, you may still be required to get further permission from the Board of Bar Examiners to sit for the bar exam (or transfer a UBE score) when you submit an application for admission, depending on the dates of your law degree and the relevant UBE administration.
Beginning Your Application
No matter which path to admission you choose, you must start the application process by completing the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) Standard Character and Fitness Electronic Application, which can be found here. If you haven’t done so already, you will need to create an NCBE Account to access the Character and Fitness Electronic Application.
Once you complete the NCBE application, the NCBE will direct you to the additional application and forms required by the Vermont Board of Bar Examiners. By design, those Vermont-specific application and forms are not made available until after you have completed the NCBE Standard Character and Fitness Electronic Application. Also note that the Vermont-specific application must be notarized and cannot be submitted electronically.
As part of the application process, you must also arrange for the NCBE to report your relevant scores (transferred UBE, MPRE) to Vermont.
Deadlines for applications for admission by examination: Vermont-specific applications to sit for the February exam must be received by December 1. Vermont-specific applications to sit for the July exam must be received by May 1.
If you have a disability and need to request an accommodation for the bar exam, you should complete and submit the Request for Accommodations on Bar Exam:
Requests for accommodations must be received by December 1 for the February exam and by May 1 for the July exam. However, applicants are encouraged to submit their application and accommodation request as soon as possible to ensure sufficient time for the Board to consider the accommodation request.
The Board of Bar Examiners has also issued an information sheet concerning accommodations for breastfeeding during the examination:
Board of Bar Examiners Review
Once your completed Vermont-specific application is received, it is reviewed by the Board of Bar Examiners or its designee, usually at the Board’s first meeting following receipt of the complete application. The Board meets the second Wednesday of each month. The Board will determine whether you meet the relevant criteria (to sit for the Vermont bar exam, to be admitted by transferred UBE score, or to be admitted without examination) and you will be notified of the Board’s decision.
Character and Fitness Committee Review
Once your application is either approved by the Board of Bar Examiners (for admission by transferred UBE score or admission without examination) or you pass the UBE (for admission by examination), your character and fitness report is received from the NCBE, and you have met all other admission requirements (such as graduation from law school or obtaining a passing MPRE score), your application is forwarded to the Character and Fitness Committee for character and fitness review. It is your burden to demonstrate to the Committee that you possess the necessary moral character and fitness for admission to the bar. You will be notified of the Committee’s decision.
If the Character and Fitness Committee does not certify your character and fitness upon initial review, an evidentiary hearing is held before a panel of the Committee in accordance with Rules 16(e)(2) and 17 of the Rules of Admission.
Supreme Court Approval
Once you have been certified by the Character and Fitness Committee, and we receive proof of an eligible passing MPRE score (for examination and transferred UBE applicants), your name is placed on the Board of Bar Examiner’s next motion for admission to the Vermont Supreme Court. The Supreme Court considers motions for admission at its monthly administrative meetings. If the Supreme Court approves the Board of Bar Examiner’s motion, you will be invited to join the bar.
Once notified of the approval 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.
Upon our receipt of the certification of the oath, licensing statement, and licensing fee, your licensing card will be issued. When you receive the licensing card, you will then be licensed to practice law in Vermont.
Learn about about the first-year CLE and mentorship requirements for newly admitted attorneys.
The fees associated with the admissions process can be found on the fee schedule approved by the Court Administrator’s Office. Please note that these fees are in addition to the fee for the character and fitness investigation by the National Conference of Bar Examiners required of all applicants. Also note that, absent a showing of extraordinary circumstances, application fees are non-refundable, even if the application is denied.
Except as otherwise provided in the Rules of Admission, a decision of the Board of Bar Examiners or Character and Fitness Committee may be appealed by filing an action with the Vermont Supreme Court as a matter of original jurisdiction and in accordance with Vermont Rules of Appellate Procedure. For more information on the appeals process, click here.