Attorney Admissions: Where to Start?
With the Rules! The Arizona Supreme Court has jurisdiction over any person or entity engaged in the practice of law in the state. It exercises this authority through an organization known as the State Bar and through a set of rules that lay out the mechanisms by which one can be admitted to that practice. For more detail on the manner in which the Supreme Court regulates the practice of law consult Section V. of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Arizona.
The typical route for a law student to become a lawyer in Arizona is by taking a uniform bar exam, although there are other routes: such as score transfer and admission on motion. All these paths are detailed in the Rules.
For most students, taking the bar exam is the major hurdle of interest. Another hurdle is getting your head around all the bar-associated acronyms! Arizona utilizes the UBE (Uniform Bar Exam), coordinated by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) as its gatekeeping mechanism. The UBE is composed of three parts administered together over two days: the MEE (Multistate Essay Exam), the MPT (Multistate Performance Test), and the multiple-choice MBE (Multistate Bar Exam). In addition, the MPRE (Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam) is administered separately by NCBE, but also part of the UBE array of exams.
|Multistate Essay Examination (MEE)||Multistate Performance Test (MPT)||Multistate Bar Examination (MBE)|
Six 30-minute essays (3 hours total)
Subjects: the 7 MBE topics plus Business Associations, Conflict of Laws, Family Law, UCC Art. 9 (Secured Transactions). and Trusts & Estates
Two 90-minute items (3 hours total)
Content: a simulated case file presented in a realistic setting and calling for the test candidate to demonstrate fundamental lawyering skills regardless of the area of law in which the task arises
200-question, multiple-choice exam (6 hours total)
Subjects: Contracts, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law and Procedure, Evidence, Real Property, Torts, and Civil Procedure
The UBE is uniformly administered, graded, and scored, but each jurisdiction sets its own passing score. In Arizona a 270 scaled score is needed to pass the exam, but other jurisdictions set their own standards. See this page for information on the minimum scores needed to pass in different jurisdictions and the portability of scores.
The UBE is administered twice a year, over two days. The timing is always the same: the last Tuesday and Wednesday in February and the last Tuesday and Wednesday of July, with the written part on the Tuesday and the multiple choice part on the Wednesday. (*Technically, it is keyed to the Wednesday; this is why the Feb test seemed a bit early in 2023, on Feb 21s-22nd, because the 22nd was the last Wednesday of that month, though Feb 28th was to be the last Tuesday of the month.)
To view the University of Arizona Law first-time Bar pass rates, please go to the College of Law website.
Frequently Asked Questions
Taking the bar exam -
Whether or not to take the bar exam is a highly personal decision. Your legal education has provided you with valuable skills for any career and you may be planning on a career that does not require practicing law. If getting the JD is itself an end goal for you, that is great.
However, if you think that there is even a possibility that you will want or need to practice law at some point in the future, it is generally advisable that you sit for the exam right away, as your legal education draws to a close.
Some students elect to take the bar exam early, before they graduate, in February of their 3L year, however, the great majority of takers sit for the bar exam in July after they graduate. Most students who plan to take the bar exam do so in the calendar year that they graduate, but this is not necessary for attorney admissions. You can sit for a bar exam at a later date.
The Supreme Court has a specific set of Rules (Rule 34(b)(2)) that govern when a student can take the test early. If you think you are interested in early testing, please also review the materials on our site about early testing.
Where do I take the bar exam?
It may be best to take the bar exam in the jurisdiction where you intend to practice.
Some students sit for the bar exam in a state in which they do not intend to practice. Many states offer this option as a courtesy. If you think you may wish to do this, research "courtesy seating" to make sure you understand the rules of the jurisdiction in which you would like to sit.
Explore the requirements for any jurisdiction(s) you may be interested in sitting for a bar exam in and/or practicing in.
Consider costs of the bar exam and the costs of score transfer.
Research other testing and admissions requirements and deadlines.
- Use the NCBE site for reference on each state's requirements. The NCBE site provides helpful links to the body charged with attorney admissions in each jurisdiction.
When do I register to take the bar?
The timeline is different for each jurisdiction. In Arizona, you can timely apply for the February bar exam between August 15th and October 31st. Timely application for the July exam is between January 15 and March 30th.
For more information on the requirements of your jurisdiction, go to the website of the relevant body that handles attorney admissions. In Arizona, the Arizona Judicial Branch handles attorney admissions. Their website can be found here.
The Arizona Supreme Court's webpage on the "Bar Exam Cycle Calendar" has more information on dates and deadlines.
States administering UBE (and the date each began using the UBE)
Check the NCBE Website for updates and changes.
- Alabama (July 2011)
- Alaska (July 2014)
- Arizona (July 2012)
- Arkansas (February 2020)
- Colorado (February 2012)
- Connecticut (February 2017)
- District of Columbia (July 2016)
- Idaho (February 2012)
- Illinois (July 2019)
- Indiana (July 2021)
- Iowa (February 2016)
- Kansas (February 2016)
- Kentucky (February 2021)
- Maine (July 2017)
- Maryland (July 2019)
- Massachusetts (July 2018)
- Michigan (February 2023)
- Minnesota (February 2014)
- Missouri (February 2011)
- Montana (July 2013)
- Nebraska (February 2013)
- New Hampshire (February 2014)
- New Jersey (February 2017)
- New Mexico (February 2016)
- New York (July 2016)
- North Carolina (February 2019)
- North Dakota (February 2011)
- Ohio (February 2021)
- Oklahoma (July 2021)
- Oregon (July 2017)
- Pennsylvania (July 2022)
- Rhode Island (February 2019)
- South Carolina (February 2017)
- Tennessee (February 2019)
- Texas (February 2021)
- Utah (February 2013)
- Vermont (July 2016)
- Washington (July 2013)
- West Virginia (July 2017)
- Wyoming (July 2013)
- Virgin Islands (July 2017)
See this map on the NCBE website for what portions of the UBE these "non-UBE" jurisdications administer on their bar exam.
Northern Mariana Islands
The UBE is a uniform test that is administered by most jurisdictions in the United States. Although jurisdictions set their own requirements for a passing score, you can sit for the UBE in a state that administers the UBE and apply for admission and (assuming you meet the jurisdiction's other requirements) be admitted into any other UBE state if your score is sufficient for admission in that state. In other words, you might take the UBE in Texas, fail to earn the 270 required for admission there, but be admitted to practice in Kansas, which requires only a 266.
Don't make assumptions about your ability to practice in any jurisdiction based only upon the passing score needed. Each jurisdiction sets its own rules governing admissions of attorneys and you want to familiarize yourself fully with the rules in any state in which you are considering practicing law.
Helpful FAQs can be explored on the NCBE website, here.