Qualifications for Taking the UBE in Washington

To take the Washington Bar Exam, you must meet the qualifications stated in APR 3. In all cases, you must establish that you possess good moral character and the requisite fitness to practice law.   

To qualify to take the bar exam, you must have:

  • graduated from an ABA-accredited law school; or
  • completed the APR 6 Law Clerk Program; or
  • graduated from any U.S. law school and earned an LLM degree that meets the requirements of APR 3 from an ABA-approved law school; or
  • "Active legal experience" means experience:
    • in the active practice of law; or
    • as a teacher at an ABA-accredited law school; or
    • as a judge of a court of general or appellate jurisdiction; or
    • in any combination of the above in a state or territory of the U.S. or in the District of Columbia or in any jurisdiction where the common law of England is the basis of its jurisprudence.
    graduated from a university or law school outside of the U.S. with a degree in law that qualifies the applicant to practice law in that jurisdiction and earned an LLM degree that meets the requirements of APR 3 from an ABA-approved law school; or
  • been admitted to the practice of law in any jurisdiction where the common law of England is the basis of its jurisprudence and have active legal experience* for at least three of the five years immediately preceding the filing of the application.



Important character and fitness information

All bar-exam applicants are subject to a character and fitness review prior to being admitted to practice law in Washington State. The practice of law is a privilege, not a right. Admission may be withheld pending a hearing before the Character and Fitness Board and final determination regarding whether the applicants have met their burden of proving that they are of good moral character and fit to practice law and have met the Essential Eligibility Requirements. See APR 20-24.3. Factors considered by admissions staff and Bar Counsel when determining whether an applicant should be referred to the Character and Fitness Board are set forth in APR 21.

Washington requires resolution of all character and fitness issues at least 60 days prior to sitting for the bar exam. Applicants with unresolved character and fitness issues will not be permitted to sit for the exam; therefore, applicants who disclose information that may raise an issue of character or fitness are strongly encouraged to file their applications early. Early filing does not guarantee all issues will be resolved 60 days prior to the exam.


NCBE Report: Applications of all attorney applicants and foreign law school applications
 will be investigated and verified by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE). For U.S. attorneys, it generally takes three to four months to receive a report from an NCBE investigation. For foreign attorneys and applicants with a foreign law degree, it may take up to nine months to receive a report from the NCBE. Attorney applicants may sit for the exam only after the WSBA receives a report from the NCBE at least 18 days prior to the first day of the exam. Therefore, attorney applicants are advised that they may not be eligible to sit for the exam they applied for. Furthermore, foreign attorneys and applicants with a foreign law degree must apply during the application period for the exam scheduled prior to their preferred exam time (see Application Filing Deadlines).

All applicants have the option to transfer registration fees and application to the next scheduled exam if the character-and-fitness review is not complete or the NCBE report is not received by deadline. Applicants may also choose to withdraw from the exam and receive a partial refund if the request is made at least 60 days prior to the first day of the exam.

Note: Any discrepancy or conflict between the information provided here and the rules and regulations set by the Washington Supreme Court, or the bylaws and policies of the Washington State Bar Association, is unintentional and will be resolved in favor of strict compliance with the rules, regulations, bylaws, and policies.

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