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What Are Options for Attorneys Who Want to Practice in Multiple States?
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Summary: Harrison Barnes of BCG Attorney Search outlines the ways that attorneys can practice in multiple jurisdictions.

Taking the bar exam is brutal, and if you’ve already passed, excellent! But what are your options for practicing in another state? Being able to work in multiple jurisdictions is great business, but the idea of taking the exam again is something most attorneys don’t want to bother with. Luckily, there are opportunities, which Harrison Barnes of BCG Attorney Search outlined extensively in his recent post, “A Comprehensive Guide to Bar Reciprocity: What States Have Reciprocity for Lawyers and Allow You to Waive into the Bar.


“When you look at other markets and use your qualifications to approach firms in other markets, you give yourself additional options—lifestyle, financial, prestige, happiness and other considerations—that could be worthwhile,” Barnes said.

One of the easiest ways for an attorney to practice in multiple states is to take the exam in a state that offers the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE). The UBE is a three part test created by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBEX), and it tests general legal concepts as opposed to the intricacies of a particular state’s laws. In 2011, Missouri and North Dakota were the first states to adopt the UBE, but it is now adopted in 26 states such as New York, Kansas, and Wyoming. For a complete list as of today, see the map below, courtesy of NCBEX.

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For lawyers who did not take the UBE, there are other options to practice across multiple states, and this includes being admitted into the federal courts bar or being admitted Pro Hac Vice (“for this one particular occasion”). Another option which Barnes discusses in detail in his post is state reciprocity.

“Some states allow admission on motion, but only for attorneys coming from states with “reciprocity” to that state. Therefore, if State A allows attorneys from State B to waive in, then attorneys from State B can “reciprocally” waive in to State A,” Barnes stated.

Barnes noted that certain states had unique rules when it came to reciprocity. For instance, Connecticut allows reciprocal jurisdiction for an attorney if the applicant is a full-time faculty member or full-time clinical fellow at an accredited Connecticut law school. In Oregon, reciprocal jurisdiction is approved as long as the applicant has practiced for at least 5-7 years and comes from a state that grants Oregon attorneys similar privileges. Like Oregon, Mississippi and Wyoming allow reciprocal bar admission to candidates from states that grant similar privileges to their attorneys.

Other reciprocity rules could include stipulations about where attorneys attended their school and whether or not that school was ABA-approved. For instance, Arkansas and Connecticut allow an admission on motion if the applicant is from an ABA-accredited law school.

For more detailed information including a reciprocity chart, check out BCG Attorney Search


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