Topic: Research the requirements for admission to the New York bar for foreign licensed attorneys with LL.M. degrees. Summarize these requirements. How could these requirements be modified and improved? How do your suggestions improve the bar admission process?
Journal Assignment #4
For LL.M students to be qualified to sit for New York bar examination, there are two categories of requirements; a first degree in law to kick in plus a LL.M degree to “cure” possible deficiencies.
In light of the first law degree requirement, differences exist between foreign licensed attorneys and foreign law students without admission to practice in other countries, but the differences are slight because both of them are required to qualify either durational requirements or substantive requirements, and the formers face slightly loose compliance. Durational requirements require the program of a foreign law student’ first law degree to be substantially equivalent in duration to the legal education provided by an ABA approved law school in the United States, also, the courses must be in substantial compliance with the instruction and academic calendar requirement of section 520.3(c)(1)(i) and (ii) and (d)(2) of the rules. So the key of issue turns out to be the “substantive requirements” of the rule, the requirements seem to be gatekeeper of the bar examination and bottom line allowing foreign legal educated law students to sit for its state forum bar.
The substantive requirement talks most about the equivalence of legal education in the United States. If a student holds a first degree in law is from a country whose jurisprudence is based upon the principles of English Common law, and the program and courses were substantial equivalent of those in ABA approved law school, then he or she might also face a looser standard of durational requirement, for example, students from common law countries with part-time or joint degree can satisfy this requirement and use LL.M degree to cure the durational requirements. How about students from civil law countries? They cannot. Given the basic idea of substantive requirements, it is not hard to understand the second category of requirements set in LL.M degree, which focus on criteria like credit hours, duration of instruction time and semester calendar as well as course requirement, for instance, legal research and writing are compulsory.
Given the facts that students from common law countries facing a looser compliance, I would say evening the requirements for all foreign law students should be an improvement, because common law and civil law systems nowadays are actually learning from each other and differences are less and less. In addition, it is fair.
Most of foreign law students pursue LL.M degree from civil law countries are in their young age, and even experienced foreign attorneys with ongoing LL.M degree may have difficulty in adjusting to the legal career and representation or other consultation in the United States, so I suppose adding one more requirement of practicing law as intern in legal area for a period of time, not mere pro bono service, to be a licensed lawyer could be a necessity.