Updated: June 17, 2020

Lawyer Bar Exam and Licensing

Washington administers the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) in February and July of each year. The two-day exam is held in Tacoma, Washington. Candidates for the lawyer bar exam must meet all qualifications for taking the exam and are subject to character and fitness review.

Diploma Privilege Order for Summer Bar Exam

 

UPDATE June 12, 2020: The Washington Supreme Court issued an order stating “applicants for admission to practice law who are currently registered for either the Washington July or September 2020 bar examination and who have received a Juris Doctorate degree from an ABA accredited law school, and applicants currently registered to take the LLLT examination scheduled for July 2020, are granted the option of receiving a diploma privilege to practice in Washington.”

Lawyer Bar Exam Applicants

Diploma privilege is available in lieu of the UBE for applicants who:

  • are currently registered for the Washington July or September 2020 UBE, and
  • have a J.D. from an ABA accredited law school.

Applicants for the Washington July or September 2020 bar exam must choose to exercise diploma privilege or to take the Uniform Bar Exam. Applicants are NOT permitted to do both.  Applicants must indicate their choice on the Online Admissions Dashboard.  For planning purposes, this must be entered by 12 p.m. (noon) on Wednesday, June 17, 2020. However, applicants who have indicated that they want to take the UBE will be able to change their selection to diploma privilege instead, at any time prior to the date of the exam for which they are registered.

Applicants who take and fail the Washington July or September 2020 bar exam will not have the option to exercise diploma privilege.

Applicants exercising diploma privilege must comply with all licensing requirements prior to a recommendation for admission to the Washington Supreme Court.

The WSBA Admissions team is working with the Court to clarify some questions related to the order.  We will provide more information as soon as possible.

Diploma Privilege Frequently Asked Questions

 

Update May 20, 2020: Due to COVID-19, the Washington Supreme Court has temporarily reduced the minimum UBE passing score in Washington from 270 to 266. The temporary modified minimum passing score will apply ONLY to applicants who sit for the July 2020 or September 2020 UBE.  In addition, applicants applying for admission by UBE score transfer from another jurisdiction, who sit for and achieve a 266 or higher on the July 2020 or September 2020 UBE, may transfer their score to Washington. Because this change is temporary pursuant to the Court's order, the minimum score will revert to 270 beginning of with the February 2021 bar examination.

Update May 13, 2020: The Uniform Bar exam will be administered in Washington on July 28 & 29 and Sept. 9 & 10, for applicants who timely submitted applications for the July Bar exam by the deadlines. The period for submitting applications has closed and the deadlines have passed. If you have applied to take the July bar exam in Washington, you do not need to submit a new application for the September exam. The exams will be administered on both dates in the Seattle/Tacoma/Everett area and the Spokane area, at specific testing sites that will be identified later, and all administrations will comply with then-existing public health guidelines.  Please see the May 13, 2020 letter from the Washington Supreme Court. We will be working hard to provide a safe and appropriate testing setting for every applicant.  We will post any additional information as soon as it is available.

Admission by Motion and UBE Score Transfer

Lawyers licensed to practice law in other states and territories of the United States may be eligible for Admission by Motion or by Uniform Bar Exam Score transfer to Washington.

Limited Practice for Lawyers

Lawyers licensed to practice law in other U.S. states and territories or outside of the U.S may be eligible for limited licenses to practice in Washington.

  • House Counsel and Multi-Jurisdictional Practice

    Limited license to practice through Washington Supreme Court APR 8(f), and Multi-Jurisdictional practice through Washington Supreme Court RPC 5.5.

  • Pro Hac Vice

    The Washington State Bar Association's limited license for lawyers practicing in a particular case or proceeding.

  • Foreign Law Consultants

    Limited licenses for lawyers only licensed outside the U.S., to advise about the law of their licensing country.

  • Indigent Representation

    Represent indigents while waiting to take the lawyer bar exam, or while their application is pending for admission by motion or UBE score transfer.

 

 

Please Note : All applicants are subject to a character and fitness review prior to being admitted to practice law in Washington.  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 Washington Supreme Court Admission and Practice Rules (APR)  20-24.2(a). 

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.