State-by-State Bar Exam Information: New York

Bar Information


New Professional Responsibility Requirement

In April 2012, the State of New York made a number of changes to its rules for the admission to practice law. (Those rules can be found here.) Among the changes was the adoption of a new requirement that students take a two-credit course in professional responsibility. The State of New York has approved the following three courses taught at the Law School as satisfying this requirement: Legal Profession, Professional Responsibility, and Law and Ethics of Lawyering. Students who plan to sit for the New York bar exam and who take Lawyering: A History to satisfy the Law School's and the ABA's legal profession requirement should also take one of these three courses in order to satisfy New York's professional responsibility requirement.

New Pro Bono Requirement

In September 2012, the State of New York adopted a new pro bono requirement for applicants seeking admission to the bar. Any student who will be seeking admission to the New York bar after January 1, 2015 will be required to complete 50 hours of pro bono service prior to admission. Because there is no territorial restriction on where this pro bono service may be performed, Pitt Law students will be able to fulfill this requirement while here in law school. In fact, many of the activities that Pitt Law students already engage in at the Law School appear to be eligible to meet this requirement (e.g., work in one of the Law School's legal clinics or in an externship with a nonprofit, a government agency, or a judge).

The text of the rule implementing the new pro bono requirement can be found here. A list of FAQs on the new rule can be found here. Please take the time to carefully read the rules and FAQs to ensure that you meet this requirement prior to seeking admission to the New York bar.


Key Dates

When is the Bar Exam: 

The last Tue and Wed of February and July

By when is the application for the July exam due?: 
April 30th. $250

Exam Details

What tests and types of questions are on the bar exam?: 

Written: Five New York essay questions and one Multistate Performance Test

Multiple-choice: 50 New York multiple-choice questions and the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE)

What subjects are tested: 

The MBE tests Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law,  Evidence, Real  Property, and Torts.

The New York portion tests the MBE subjects, statutory no-fault insurance provisions, Business Relationships, Conflict of Laws, New York Constitutional Law, Criminal Procedure, Family Law, Remedies, New York and Federal Civil Jurisdiction and Procedure, Professional Responsibility, Trusts, Wills and Estates , and UCC Articles 2, 3, and 9. NOTE: Effective with the July 2014 bar exam, the Board will no longer test UCC Article 3 – Negotiable Instruments – on the New York section of the bar exam. Effective with the February 2015 exam, Administrative Law will be added to the list of subject matters tested on the New York section of the bar exam.   

Where is the July exam administered?: 
Albany, New York City, Buffalo, Saratoga Springs, as well as other locations that can vary from exam to exam. Students who are not New York residents will usually be assigned to Albany. Pitt Law students who would prefer to sit in Buffalo should inform Professor Bratman or the associate dean, as the New York Board will likely be able to accommodate the request.
Is it possible to take the written portions of the exam on a laptop computer?: 

Yes. Information regarding laptop registration is made available on the Board's website to candidates at the time of application. All applicants who request to take the exam on a laptop will be able to do so unless space is limited.

Are past exam questions and sample answers available?: 

Yes--on the Board of Law Examiners' website at

How is the exam scored?: 

The relative weights assigned are 50% to the written portion (40% essays and 10% MPT), 10% to the New York multiple choice, and 40% to the MBE portion.


What was the first-time taker pass rate for the most recent July bar exam? : 

2012: 76%; 2011: 79% (This statistic includes foreign law graduates, who are permitted to sit for the NY exam. The pass rate for first-time takers from ABA-approved U.S. law schools is higher)

What was the overall pass rate for all takers of the most recent July bar exam?: 

2012: 68%; 2011: 69% (This statistic includes foreign law graduates, who are permitted to sit for the NY exam. The pass rate for all takers from ABA-approved U.S. law schools is higher.)


Can MBE scores be transferred from other jurisdictions?: 

Yes, but concurrent examination only

Can applicants already admitted in another state gain admission without taking the bar exam?: 

Yes, but only if the applicant has practiced law for five of the last seven years in a jurisdiction with which New York has reciprocity. Please consult the jurisdiction directly for more detailed information on admission by motion.

The information for New York comes from the New York Board of Law Examiners' website and response to our survey, as well as the National Conference of Bar Examiners' Comprehensive Guide to Bar Admission Requirements.