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Directions For Navigating The Winding Path To Law License Reciprocity

Whether you are looking to expand your practice or relocate, taking another State Bar Exam is never something that an attorney looks forward to. Fortunately, if you are looking to practice in Ohio, the Ohio State Bar has reciprocity for every state. However, in order to qualify, there are certain requirements and standards that must be met. Below is a generalized, but specific list of what is needed for an attorney to become admitted to the Ohio Bar without confronting another bar exam.

Before reviewing this information, it is imperative that you know what type of bar exam you took. As with every aspect of the law, the answer and information will depend on your specific circumstances.

The Supreme Court of Ohio began using the National Conference of Bar Examiners’ Uniform Bar Examination (UBE) in July 2020. The UBE is a two-day test comprised of three components prepared by the National Conference of Bar Examiners, the Multistate Bar Exam, the Multistate Performance Test, and the Multistate Essay Exam.

If you took the Ohio bar exam before the Uniform Bar Exam’s implementation, you are left with only one option for admission without examination.

If you are an attorney licensed to practice in another state, here are the basic requirements for you to become admitted into the Ohio Bar without examination. You must:

Meet the technical requirements for admission, which are as follows:

■ Be 21 years of age;
■ Have a bachelor’s degree or doctoral-level degree from an accredited college or university;
■ Have a J.D. or L.L.B. from an ABA-accredited law school;
■ Successfully pass the character and fitness process for Ohio;
■ Be admitted to practice in another state;
■ Have actively practiced for 5 years prior to application;
■ Have not taken and failed the Ohio bar within 5 years prior to application;
■ Have not engaged in the unauthorized practice of law;
■ Be a citizen or resident alien of the United States;
and
■ If applicable, be registered pursuant to Ohio Gov. Bar. R. VI, Section 3. File an Application for Admission to the practice of Law without Examination with the Office of Bar Admissions.

This includes the following:
■ Applicant Affidavit;
■ Certificate of Presentation;
■ NCBE Character Questionnaire;
■ Certificate of Good Standing from every jurisdiction you are admitted to;
■ Affidavit of Employment;
■ Affidavit of Practice;
■ Undergraduate and Law School Transcript;
■ An Authorization and Release Form; and
■ Costs/Fees.

If you are an attorney who took the UBE, then these specific rules apply:
■ A UBE score of 270 or higher and your score cannot be more than 5 years old.
■ An MPRE score of 85 or higher is required.
■ Completion of the Ohio Law Component training course with a score of 80% or more.
■ A current Ohio Character and Fitness certification.
■ Meet the technical requirements of 1(a) – (c) listed above.
■ File an Application for Admission by UBE Transfer Score, which includes:
• Certificate of Good Standing from every jurisdiction you are admitted to, if applicable;
• Undergraduate and Law School Transcript;
• NCBE Character Questionnaire;
• Applicant Affidavit;
• An Authorization and Release Form; and
• Costs/Fees.

Now, if you are an Ohio attorney and would like to become admitted to the State Bar of Michigan, the process is similar. But there are noticeable differences. Therefore, an Ohio attorney attempting to waive into Michigan’s State Bar may move the State of Michigan to admit them without examination, but you must comply with the following:

Meet the technical requirements for admission, which are as follows:
■ Be licensed to practice in the United States, its territories, or the District of Columbia;
■ Be a member in good standing of the Ohio Bar;
■ Intend to practice law in Michigan; and
■ For three of the five years before applying, have actively practiced law as your main occupation/business, been employed as an instructor in an ABA-accredited law school, or been on active duty serving as a judge advocate, legal specialist, or legal office (certified by the judge advocate general).

1. Apply for a Request for Preparation of a Character Report from the National Conference of Bar Examiners.
2. Complete the Michigan Law Component training course. This is an online course available at http://www.icle.org/michiganlawbasics.
3. Finally, you must fill out an Application for Admission without Examination and pay the required costs.

If you are an Ohio attorney who took the UBE, then these specific rules apply:
■ A UBE score of 268 or higher and your score cannot be more than 3 years old.
■ An MPRE score of 85 or higher is required.
■ Completion of the Michigan Law Component training course.
■ Verification of graduation from an ABA-accredited law school.
■ A current Michigan Character and Fitness certification.

As we all know, general guidelines are never sufficient in the legal field. So, it is important for those who intend or want to apply to a new bar, either Ohio, Michigan, or other jurisdictions, the state bar in which you are attempting to gain admission may require additional information or documentation and may require additional procedures based on the individual applicant. As always, it is best to contact the local state bar for more information.

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