***PROCESS FOR APPLICATION SUBMISSION***

All applications for admission (including applications to sit for the Vermont bar exam) must now be submitted through Odyssey File and Serve.  Instructions on how to use File and Serve can be found here: Attorney Licensing eFiling Guide.

 

***INFORMATION ABOUT JULY 2022 BAR EXAM***

Absent emergency circumstances, the July 2022 Vermont bar examination will be administered in person (at the Burlington Hilton on Battery Street in Burlington).  Pursuant to A.O. 49, Section 23(b), the Board of Bar Examiners has adopted several policies with regards to the administration of that exam, which can be found here:

 

The Rules of Admission to the Bar of the Vermont Supreme Court set out three paths to admission to the Vermont bar:

  1. Admission by examination via the Uniform Bar Examination (UBE)
  2. Admission by transferred UBE score
  3. Admission without examination

The Board of Bar Examiners and the Character and Fitness Committee oversee the process of admission to the Vermont bar in accordance with the Rules of Admission.

General Eligibility and Educational Requirements

To be eligible for admission to the Vermont bar, you must:

  1. Be at least 18 years old;
  2. Be a U.S. citizen or an alien who is lawfully present in the U.S.;
  3. Meet the character and fitness requirements set out in the Rules of Admission and;
  4. Demonstrate minimal professional competence by satisfying the requirements for admission by examination, transferred UBE score, or without examination.

Educational Requirements for Admission by Examination or Transferred UBE Score

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:

  1. Graduated from an approved law school or satisfied the requirements for early examination in Rule 9(c)(5) of the Rules of Admission;
  2. Completed the Law Office Study Program; or
  3. 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.

Admission by Examination

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:

        July 26-27, 2022, Burlington Hilton, Battery St., Burlington (application deadline is May 1, 2022)

A passing score in Vermont is 270 or higher.

Eligibility

To be eligible to sit for the UBE in Vermont, you must:

  1. Meet the educational requirements;
  2. 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
  3. 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.

Please be aware that Vermont does not allow courtesy seating on its exam.  By submitting an application to sit for the Vermont bar exam, applicants are certifying that they intend to become licensed in Vermont upon passage of the bar exam.  Recall that false statements on a bar application can form the basis of professional disciplinary action.

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.

Admission by Transferred UBE Score

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:

  1. You must meet the educational requirements;
  2. You must have earned a passing UBE score of 270 or greater;
  3. 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;
  4. 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
  5. 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.

Admission 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:

  1. Be currently licensed in another U.S. jurisdiction, in good standing, and not be suspended or disbarred;
  2. 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
  3. 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.

How To Apply For Admission

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 on the NCBE website.  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 and submit the NCBE application, the NCBE will provide further instructions on how to access the application required by the Vermont Board of Bar Examiners.  (By design, those Vermont-specific applications are not made available until after you have completed and submitted the NCBE Standard Character and Fitness Electronic Application.)  The completed Vermont application must be submitted through Odyssey File and Serve.  Instructions on how to use File and Serve can be found here: Attorney Licensing eFiling Guide.

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 applications to sit for the February exam must be received by December 1.  Vermont applications to sit for the July exam must be received by May 1.

Please be aware that Vermont does not allow courtesy seating on its exam.  By submitting an application to sit for the Vermont bar exam, applicants are certifying that they intend to become licensed in Vermont upon passage of the bar exam.  Recall that false statements on a bar application can form the basis of professional disciplinary action.

Exam Accommodations

If you have a disability and need to request an accommodation for the bar exam, you should complete the Request for Accommodations on Bar Exam and submit it along with your Vermont application by the applicable exam application deadline:

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 application is received, it is reviewed by the Board of Bar Examiners or its designee.  The Board or its designee 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, your name is placed on the Board of Bar Examiners' 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 Examiners' motion, you will be invited to join the bar.

Licensing

Once notified of the approval by the Supreme Court, you have 90 days to:

  1. Take the Attorney’s Oath;
  2. Complete and submit the required licensing statement and forms; and
  3. 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.

The Law Office Study Program

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 either (1) a bachelor's degree from an institution of higher education whose accreditor has been approved by the U.S. Department of Education, or (2) an undergraduate degree in a foreign jurisdiction if you can establish that the degree is equivalent to a bachelor’s degree from an institution of higher education whose accreditor has been approved by the U.S. Department of Education.

To enroll in the LOS Program, you must complete the following documents:

and submit them through Odyssey File and Serve.  Instructions on how to use File and Serve can be found here: Attorney Licensing eFiling Guide.

For further information on the Law Office Study Program, see Rule 7 of the Rules of Admission.

For Current LOS Participants

If you are currently enrolled in the LOS Program, you must submit the following form (with the appropriate fee) every six months:

This form must be submitted (and the fee paid) through Odyssey File and Serve.  Instructions on how to use File and Serve can be found here: Attorney Licensing eFiling Guide.

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:

 

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.

Eligibility for Graduates of Foreign or Non-Approved U.S. Law Schools

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 arrange with the law school to have the school send an official transcript to the Office of Attorney Licensing.  Electronic transcripts are acceptable.

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:

  1. 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
     
  2. 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 complete the following application

and submit it (and pay the fee) through Odyssey File and Serve.  Instructions on how to use File and Serve can be found here: Attorney Licensing eFiling Guide.

You must also arrange with your law school to have the school send an official transcript directly to the Office of Attorney Licensing.  Electronic transcripts are acceptable.

For those seeking admission by examination, the foreign equivalency determination application and all required documents (including transcripts) must 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.

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.  If you need an extension to establish eligibility under these provisions, you must include a request for the extension (and establish good cause) as part of your foreign equivalency determination application.

First-Year Requirements for Newly Admitted Attorneys

Learn about about the first-year CLE and mentorship requirements for newly admitted attorneys.

Fees

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.

Appeals

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.