Eligibility of STL Graduates and Students for
Bar Admission or Law Licenses Worldwide
(Updated in October 2022）
Bar exam and admission rules around the world vary considerably and often are quite complex. The best source of advice for law students about bar eligibility is the bar exam/law license authorities of each jurisdiction.
1. Foreign Bar Exam Eligibility of STL Graduates Who Become Licensed in China
STL students who are PRC citizens may become licensed to practice China law under current rules by (i) passing the National Judicial Exam and (ii) working for one year under the supervision of a China-licensed lawyer.
STL graduates who become licensed China lawyers are eligible, by virtue of their China law license, to take the California General Bar Exam (and perhaps the bar exams of other U.S. states).
Additionally, STL graduates who become licensed China lawyers are eligible to take the U.K. SQE (“Solicitors Qualifying Examination”). For further details, please see Solicitors Regulation Authority official website (https://www.sra.org.uk/become-solicitor/qualified-lawyers/ ). Admission as a U.K. solicitor, in turn, creates eligibility for licensure in a host of Commonwealth nations worldwide.
STL graduates are prepared for the bar exams and license requirements of most Common Law jurisdictions by virtue of STL’s Common Law J.D. curriculum.
STL’s PRC graduates with China law licenses also qualify to act as foreign registered lawyers in many jurisdictions (including Hong Kong), even without bar admission to practice the law of the foreign jurisdiction. “Foreign registered lawyers” are authorized to reside in the foreign jurisdiction and offer advice on the law of their home jurisdiction in which they are licensed, but not on the law of the foreign jurisdiction in which they are registered foreign lawyers.
2. Foreign Bar Exam Eligibility of STL Graduates Who do NOT Become Licensed in China and STL Current Students
STL Graduates who do not become licensed in China and STL current students are eligible to take the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) route to become a UK solicitor. To qualify through the SQE route, students need to have a degree in any subject or equivalent level 6 qualification, pass both stages of the SQE assessment, have two years' full-time (or equivalent) qualifying work experience ( The two years’ full-time qualifying work experience can be gained before, during or after they sit the SQE assessments.) and pass our character and suitability requirements. For further details, please see Solicitors Regulation Authority official website (https://www.sra.org.uk/become-solicitor/sqe/ ).
Current STL students who earn two semesters of credit in residence at an ABA-approved law school in the United States generally are eligible by virtue of those credits to take the bar exams of California, Washington. D.C. and New York (if the year of study results in the award of an LL.M. degree) upon graduation from STL. Further, the credits earned while visiting an ABA-approved law school in the U.S. usually count toward the credits required for STL’s J.D. degree, without extending the duration of STL’s program. (Note that each of the U.S. jurisdictions mentioned in this paragraph has requirements regarding the specific courses a visiting student must take in order to achieve Bar Exam eligibility.)
In fact, STL has agreements with a number of excellent U.S. law schools for full-year visits at significantly reduced rates of tuition. Several STL students have availed themselves of these opportunities. Other students may negotiate similar outcomes directly with a U.S. school they hope to visit. As noted above, students planning a visit must become aware of the specific course requirements of the jurisdiction(s) in which they hope to take a bar exam based on a full year of study in the U.S.
STL students who, after graduating from STL, earn an LL.M. degree following a full year of study at an ABA-approved U.S. law school, also may achieve eligibility to take the Bar Exams of California, Washington, D.C., New York and perhaps other jurisdictions.
Even without a period of foreign study or a China law license, some jurisdictions outside of the United States will consider STL graduates for bar admission based on the Common Law education STL graduates received in STL’s J.D. program. One STL graduate successfully applied for admission in Canada on this basis.
3. Important Restrictions on Foreign Bar Exam Eligibility
Most STL students who desire Bar Exam eligibility in a United States jurisdiction do so because they hope to become a partnership-track associate in a Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, or Hong Kong office of a foreign law firm based in the United States. U.S. law firms generally may not make someone a partner who is not admitted to practice in a major U.S. state.
Some students also hope to practice law the law of a major U.S. jurisdiction while residing in the jurisdiction (e.g., California, New York, Washington, D.C.). This too is permitted by admission to the Bar in one of these jurisdictions (assuming the candidate meets immigration and work permit requirements).
However, unlike graduates of ABA-approved law schools in the United States, STL graduates are not eligible to take Bar Exams or for Bar admission in all fifty U.S. states. Eligibility exists only in those states with special rules pertaining to the admission of lawyers educated or licensed outside of the United States.