Bar Exam and Law License Information
STL is committed to working with students from around the world to help ensure that you enjoy a meaningful range of excellent professional opportunities upon graduation, including opportunities requiring a license to practice law, the requirements for which typically vary from nation to nation and jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Fortunately, there are excellent pathways to the world’s most significant law licenses for all STL graduates.
Chinese J.D./J.M. Graduates
Most Chinese STL graduates take and pass China’s National Judicial Exam before graduating from STL. This means that, upon their graduation from STL, these graduates are entitled to obtain a China Law License after twelve months of law practice experience under the supervision of a China-licensed lawyer.
Possessing a China law license entitles an STL graduate to sit for both the California (U.S.) bar exam and the U.K. Solicitor’s Exam as a foreign-licensed lawyer, assuming the graduate meets the other requirements of these jurisdictions, principally pertaining to one’s character and fitness for the practice of law (i.e., not having a criminal record or other character problem in need of explanation). Significantly, STL graduates are well prepared for both the California and the U.K. examinations by virtue of their common law J.D. degree.
In this respect, STL’s Chinese J.D./J.M. graduates are unique among all law graduates in the world in terms of their simultaneous qualification for China, U.S. and U.K. law licenses 1.
International and Chinese J.D. Graduates
STL’s J.D. program prepares STL graduates for the bar examination of virtually any of the scores of common law nations and jurisdictions around the world, including those in North America, the United Kingdom, U.K. Commonwealth Nations, Africa, and Southeast Asia. However, each jurisdiction determines its own bar exam eligibility requirements, and a foreign-based law degree sometimes is accompanied by special restrictions and requirements. STL will work with students to assess the eligibility of STL graduates to sit for the bar examination of any nation or jurisdiction.
In the United States, for example, individual states typically require that a bar exam applicant graduate from a law school approved by the American Bar Association (“ABA”). Even though STL believes that our J.D. program meets all of the requirements for ABA approval, the ABA, to date, has declined to extend its law school approval jurisdiction outside of the territorial United States. Individual U.S. states, nonetheless, retain the power to permit graduates from foreign law schools to sit for their bar examinations, and STL is petitioning several different U.S. jurisdictions for STL graduate bar exam eligibility.
Importantly, however, alternative pathways to a U.S. law license are immediately available to STL J.D. graduates. For example, the island nation of Palau is a common law jurisdiction with very close ties to the United States. Significantly, Palau’s bar examination includes the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE) and the Multistate Essay and Practice Tests (MEE and MPT), the two most common elements of U.S. bar exams. Moreover, Palua allows graduates of any law school accredited where located to sit for its bar exam. An STL graduate who passes the Palau bar exam (for which STL’s J.D. program prepares students well) and who thereby obtains a license to practice law from Palau, becomes immediately eligible to apply as a foreign-licensed lawyer to sit for the California bar exam (and perhaps the bar exams of other U.S. jurisdiction), and for the U.K. solicitors exam.
1 This is significant. China law firms are growing rapidly and gaining an increasing share of the market for cross-border international legal services. U.K.-based firms represent 12 of the largest 20 foreign law firms with offices in China. U.S.-based firms remain dominant in terms of their share of all international cross-border work. Lawyer regulatory authorities in each of these and other jurisdictions increasingly are considering permitting partnerships and other affiliations among lawyers and law firms from different nations. By virtue of their unique ability to qualify easily for China, U.S. and U.K. law licenses, STL graduates will be among the most sought-after and capable lawyers of the 21st century.