Bar Preparation Track
Are you a foreign-trained lawyer who wants to be licensed to practice law in the United States? At Georgia State Law, you can earn the degree needed to take the Georgia bar examination and practice in the United States in just two semesters: with a minimum of 26 credit hours.
Georgia State Law offers a tailored LL.M. curriculum prescribed by the Georgia Supreme Court and the Georgia Board of Bar Examiners that leads to an LL.M. for the Practice of Law in the United States.
To sit for the Georgia bar examination and to be fully licensed in the state of Georgia, you must first earn the equivalent of a professional law degree, or similar credential, and be “authorized to practice law in a foreign jurisdiction.” Georgia allows foreign-trained lawyers to take the bar examination after completing a prescribed, bar-focused LL.M. curriculum.
Learn more about the State Bar of Georgia rules here:
- Supreme Court of Georgia Office of Bar Admissions LL.M. Curriculum Information
- Supreme Court of Georgia Ruling on LL.M. Requirements
- Class of 2016 LL.M. Bar Passage Rate>>
Bar Preparation Curriculum
Our curriculum is specially designed to assure students of the best possible preparation at an affordable cost. Eligible students who plan to complete their LL.M. and take the Georgia bar examination in the shortest time should plan to graduate in the spring semester to be eligible for the summer administration of the Georgia bar examination. Those preparing for the Georgia Bar follow a set curriculum.
|Introduction to U.S. Law||3 credit hours*|
|Civil Procedure I||3 credit hours*|
|Professional Responsibility||3 credit hours|
|Lawyering Skills for LL.M. Students||3 credit hours*|
Total Fall Semester Full-Time = 12 hours
*Total first-year, fall semester part-time only required courses = 9 hours
|Civil Procedure II||3 credit hours*|
|Constitutional Law II||3 credit hours*|
|Evidence||3 credit hours*|
|Research Methods in Law||2 credit hours*|
|Legal Writing and Analysis for LL.M. Students||3 credit hours|
Total Fall Semester Full-Time = 14 hours
*Total first-year, spring semester part-time hours = 9 hours
*In their second year, part-time students take Professional Responsibility, Research Methods in Law and Legal Writing and Analysis for LL.M. students. This completes the required 26 hours to sit for the Georgia Bar.
Key Bar Examination Sites
Earning an LL.M. does not in and of itself qualify foreign lawyers to practice law in the United States. Each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories regulates the admission of attorneys to the practice of law within its jurisdiction. The requirements for bar admission vary from state to state, and can be quite complex. A foreign-trained lawyer who plans to sit for a bar examination in the United States should carefully investigate the relevant requirements prior to beginning his or her studies.
The American Bar Association (ABA) and the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) provide information about bar examinations published in The Comprehensive Guide to Bar Admission Requirements on their websites.
Foreign applicants should refer to Chart 4: Eligibility to Take the Bar Examination and contact the board of examiners in the state(s) in which they wish to take the bar examination using the directory in the guide.
The Georgia State Law courses prescribed for the bar preparation curriculum have been carefully tailored to conform to the specific requirements of the Supreme Court of Georgia and the Georgia Board of Bar Examiners.
The Rules Governing Admission to the Practice of Law, Section 4(c) impose three basic educational requirements for foreign-educated lawyers who plan to take the Georgia bar examination.
- They must have received their legal education from a foreign law school. Section 4(c)(1).
- They must be authorized to practice law in a foreign jurisdiction. Section 4(c)(2).
- They must have been awarded an LL.M. degree for the Practice of Law in the United States (an LL.M. degree that conforms to the curricular criteria prescribed by the Supreme Court of Georgia). Section 4(c)(3).
With respect to the first requirement, Georgia State Law is responsible for certifying that the foreign law school from which the applicant graduated is properly accredited under the laws of the foreign state where it is located. This proper accreditation is measured by conformity to one of three metrics: Either (1) legal education institutions in the foreign country are sanctioned, recognized or regulated by the government [Rules, Part B, Section 4(c)(1)(a)] and this institution is sanctioned, recognized or regulated pursuant to applicable law; or (2) legal education institutions in the foreign country are recognized or approved by an evaluation body [Rules, Part B, Section 4(c)(1)(b)] and this Institution is recognized or approved pursuant to applicable law; or (3) legal institutions in the foreign country are chartered to award the first professional degree in law by an appropriate authority [Rules, Part B, Section 4(c)(1)(c)] and this institution is chartered pursuant to applicable law. Although the certification responsibility falls upon Georgia State Law, all graduates wishing to apply for the Georgia bar examination must upon request provide information showing that the foreign law school from which they graduated satisfies one of the three metrics set out above.
The second requirement is an important consideration for applicants planning to take the Georgia bar examination, but is not, strictly speaking an educational requirement. It is a prerequisite for taking the Georgia bar examination. In order to be permitted to take the Georgia bar examination, an LL.M. graduate must be “authorized to practice law in a foreign jurisdiction.”
Under the Rules Governing Admission to the Practice of Law, Part B (Board of Bar Examiners), Section 4 (Educational requirements), subsection (c)(2) [hereinafter Rules], in order to be permitted to take the Georgia bar examination, an LL.M. graduate must be “authorized to practice law in a foreign jurisdiction.” The Comment on the meaning of the language “authorized to practice law in a foreign jurisdiction” in the American Bar Association’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar’s Proposed Model Rule on Admission of Foreign Educated Lawyers [hereinafter Model Rule] interprets this phrase as meaning that an “applicant can, in his or her own country, engage in the activities which are generally considered the practice of law in the United States.”
Graduates must eventually be prepared to provide sufficient evidence that they meet the requirements of Part B (4)(c)(2) as interpreted by the Comment to the ABA’s Model Rule quoted above. This authorization or ability to practice law must be current, and not lapsed, suspended or revoked for any reason including but not limited to loss of residency or citizenship in the applicant’s “own,” i.e., foreign country, failure to take the requisite steps to initiate authorization or failure to maintain active status through nonpayment of dues or loss of such status for disciplinary or similar reasons. Verification that an applicant has met the requirement of Part B, 4(c)(2) of the Rules will be done by the Board to Determine Fitness of Bar Applicants after the applicant applies for fitness certification.
With respect to documentary evidence of authorization to practice law, the Comment to the ABA’s Model Rule should serve as a guide:
COMMENT A. Meaning of “authorized” to practice law
As used in (2) of this rule, the word “authorized” is intended to mean that the applicant has achieved the ability to engage in activities which would be recognized in the United States as the practice of law. Foreign jurisdictions vary in the ways persons acquire the ability to engage in these activities and the labels attached to such authorization. For example some countries in Central and South America, do not issue specific certificates or licenses to practice law. Only the completion of [a] law degree program, at a law school approved by the Ministry of Education to grant the degree, is required. Other South American countries require the graduate to register with the appropriate bar association by presenting the diploma and a police certificate that the law school graduate does not have a criminal record. In general countries assign different labels to approval by the government to practice law. Whatever the label or requirement, a United States jurisdiction considering an application under this rule should insure that the applicant can, in his or her own country, engage in the activities which are generally considered the practice of law in the United States.
Limited exceptions to this requirement apparently exist. For example, if an applicant intending to take the Georgia bar examination is unable to provide documentary evidence that he/she is admitted or otherwise authorized to practice law in the foreign country where the applicant received his or her legal education due to danger or political interference in the foreign country, the Board to Determine Fitness may waive this requirement for good cause shown by clear and convincing evidence.
Applicants planning to take the Georgia bar examination who are not “authorized to practice law in a foreign jurisdiction” may lack of authorization for a variety of reasons. For example, the foreign jurisdiction may require that law graduates undergo a period of apprenticeship either before or after that jurisdiction’s bar examination, or lawyers who previously practiced in a foreign jurisdiction may have allowed their authorization to lapse, but know that it can be reinstated before they apply to take the Georgia bar examination. Although such lawyers are welcome to apply for the Track 2 LL.M. program, they must recognize that they will not be eligible to take the Georgia bar examination until they are authorized to practice law in their home country, and will necessarily have to defer taking the Georgia bar examination until such time as they have completed all necessary prerequisites required by their home country.