Admission Without Examination Experienced Out-of-State Attorneys

Beginning July 1, 2019, experienced attorneys licensed to practice in another U.S. jurisdiction may be eligible for admission to the Bar of Maryland without examination. Admission without examination will be governed by Maryland Rules 19-215 and 19-216 (effective March 1, 2019). This page summarizes the eligibility requirements and application procedure for admission without examination.

Eligibility for admission without examination will be governed by Md. Rule 19-215.
To be eligible for admission without examination, the petitioner must establish:

  1. Current admission in good standing to the Bar of a state (defined as a U.S. State, territory or possession, or the District of Columbia)
  2. Having passed the bar examination in a state or having been admitted by diploma privilege after graduating from an ABA law school
    1. The petitioner is not required to be a current, active member of the Bar in any state where they previously were admitted after passing the bar exam, so long as the petitioner is a current active member in good standing of at least one state bar. (For example, a situation where the petitioner voluntarily resigned their bar membership or became inactive in a state where they took and passed the bar exam, but had also become the member of the bar of another state by motion/waiver admission).
    2. A petitioner who took the UBE in a UBE state where the score they achieved was not a passing score but who was admitted to another UBE state based upon that UBE score is considered to have passed the bar exam in the UBE state where they became admitted using that UBE score.
  3. Having accumulated the professional experience required by Rule 19-215(b) by working for 3 of the most recent 5 years or for more than 10 years overall in
    1. The full time authorized practice of law in a state or
    2. Full time employment as a teacher of law at an ABA-approved law school or
    3. Full time employment as a judge of a court of record of a state or
    4. A combination of (a) – (c)
  4. Good moral character & fitness for the practice of law in Maryland.
  5. “Exceptional cases”
    1. The Board may make an exception to the strict requirements of Rule 19-215(c)(1) which addresses the type(s) of work done by a person claiming to be a “practitioner of law.”
    2. The Board may not make an exception to the duration of professional requirements required under Rule 19-215(d).
    3. If an individual believes that his or her professional qualifications constitute an “exceptional case,” the individual must include in the Statement of Professional Qualifications a detailed explanation as to how the individual’s circumstances are exceptional. 

The process for applying for admission without examination will be governed by Rule 19-216.

  1. The formal application document to be filed with SBLE is a “Petition for Admission Without Examination” (Petition)
    1. The Petition is created online in SBLE’s eBar system.
    2. The petitioner must submit the Petition online AND print and file a hard copy.
    3. The Petition elicits certain information including the petitioner’s history of bar admissions. The petitioner must list every state bar to which they have ever been admitted, even if not currently admitted there.
  2. The hard copy Petition must be accompanied by several documents

    Other admissions requirements:

    The admissions procedure AFTER petition filing

    1. Statement of Professional Qualifications - organized in chronological order beginning with the date of the petitioner’s first Bar admission and first qualifying professional experience and ending with the most recent qualifying professional experience. The Statement should aver whether each admission to a State Bar was by examination, by motion, or by diploma privilege. If averring professional experience as a “practitioner of law,” as to each period of legal employment, the petitioner should include sufficient detail pursuant to Maryland Rule 19-215(c)(2) on the requirements and duties of the position to allow the Board to determine that such employment constituted the “authorized practice of law.”
    2. Certificates of Good Standing from each jurisdiction where the petitioner is currently admitted. Each Certificate must have been issued within the 3 months immediately preceding the date of filing the hard copy Petition.
    3. Completed National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) Character Questionnaire
      1. Character investigations for individuals seeking admission without examination are conducted by the National Conference of Bar Examiners.
      2. Petitioners must complete the NCBE’s online character questionnaire at the NCBE’s website – www.NCBEX.org – then print the NCBE character questionnaire and sign it where required in the instructions accompanying the questionnaire and file the hard copy together with the Petition.
      3. The appropriate fees
        1. The Petition fee - include with the filing a check or money order payable to “State Board of Law Examiners” in the amount of $700.
        2. The NCBE character investigation fee
          1. The current fee for a new investigation by NCBE is $500.
          2. Some petitioners may be eligible for a reduced fee if NCBE has recently concluded a character investigation of the petitioner for another U.S. jurisdiction. Petitioners should consult the fee charts on NCBE’s website for the appropriate fees.
          3. Petitioners may pay NCBE online by credit card at the time OR may submit to SBLE a check or money order in the proper amount that is payable to “National Conference of Bar Examiners.”
      4. Petitioners under Rules 19-215 and 19-216 must satisfy the requirements of Rule 19-212 by reporting to SBLE a Qualifying MPRE Score
        1. Board Rule 6 establishes the qualifying MPRE score as a scaled score of 85 or greater earned at any time, so long as the score can be officially reported to SBLE by NCBE or, if the score is too old to be reported by NCBE, by bar admissions officials in another U.S. state.
        2. NCBE currently maintains MPRE score reports back to 1999. State bar admissions officials may maintain older scores.
        3. Petitioners may cause NCBE to report a Qualifying MPRE Score any time after creating an account in SBLE’s eBar system.
      5. Petitioner under Rues 19-215 and 19-216 must satisfy the requirements of Rule 19-213 by completing the Maryland Law Component.
        1. The Maryland Law Component consists of a set of written outlines and an online quiz designed to confirm familiarity with the outline materials.
        2. Petitioners may complete the Maryland Law Component any time after filing the Petition.
      6. After the petitioner has filed all the required documents and payments, SBLE will conduct a preliminary review to determine whether the petitioner is eligible under Rule 19-215.
        1. If the petitioner is eligible, SBLE will deposit the petitioner’s fees and direct NCBE to begin the character investigation.
        2. If the petitioner appears not to be eligible, SBLE will inform the petitioner of the basis for that decision and provide the opportunity to withdraw the Petition.
          1. If the petitioner chooses to withdraw, SBLE will return the petitioner’s materials without depositing the fees.
          2. If the petitioner chooses to proceed, SBLE will deposit the fees and direct NCBE to begin the investigation. The Board will make a final determination on eligibility after NCBE finishes the character investigation.
            1. This procedure will apply to every petitioner seeking to establish their professional experience as an “exceptional case” as described above.
      7. NCBE will conduct the character investigation and generate a character summary report.
        1. NCBE’s investigations typically take anywhere from 2 to 6 months to complete.
        2. While the NCBE investigation is ongoing, the petitioner is obligated to provide application updates directly to NCBE via NCBE’s online application.
        3. SBLE will promptly notify the petitioner when SBLE receives NCBE’s character summary report.
      8. SBLE will review the NCBE’s character summary a report and determine whether any further information or documents are required.
        1. If further information or documents are required, SBLE will notify petitioner of those requirements and provide a deadline for compliance.
        2. If no further information or documents are required or as soon as all newly requested documents and information are produced, SBLE will direct the Petitioner to complete an Affirmation form. The Affirmation form contains averments to be signed under oath that the Petitioner has provided all required disclosures and that the Petition is complete.
        3. After the SBLE receives the NCBE Character Report, the petitioner is obligated to provide application updates directly to SBLE in the form of a signed letter, which may be delivered, mailed, or scanned and emailed to SBLE’s administrative office.
      9. When the Petitioner provides the signed Affirmation, SBLE will submit the Petition and all the investigation materials to a Board member for review.
        1. If the Board approves the Petition, SBLE will notify the petitioner.
        2. If the Board believes grounds may exist to deny the Petition, SBLE will notify the Petitioner and schedule a hearing before the Board at which the Board will receive testimony and evidence as to potentially any negative character issues and or any issue regarding eligibility.
          1. The Board will not hold a hearing until its confirms that the petitioner has complied with Rule 19-212 (Maryland Law Component) and Rule 19-213 (MPRE).
      10. Recommendation to the Court
        1. If the Board approves the Petition without a hearing, SBLE will notify the Court of Appeals for admission that the applicant is cleared for admission to the Bar promptly upon confirming Petitioner’s completion of all other admissions requirements.
        2. If the Board approves the Petition after a hearing, SBLE will notify the applicant and forward its recommendation in favor of admission to the Court.
          1. The Court may approve the Board’s recommendation without a hearing and order that the Petitioner be admitted OR
          2. The Court may hold a show cause hearing to address any concerns it might have, and issue an Order that the Petitioner be admitted or denied admission.  
        3. If, after a hearing, the Board believes there are grounds to deny admission, the Board will notify the petitioner, provide the petitioner with a draft of the proposed recommendation to the Court, and offer the petitioner the option to withdraw the Petition.
          1. If the petitioner withdraws the Petition, the Board will retain the records and report to the Court only that the petitioner withdrew.
          2. If the petitioner elects not to withdraw, the Board will transmit to the Court a report and recommendation against admission together with the hearing transcript and all the papers pertaining to the matter.
            1. The Court may approve the Board’s recommendation without a hearing and order that the Petitioner be admitted OR
    4. The Court may hold a show cause hearing to address any concerns it might have, and issue an Order that the Petitioner be admitted or denied admission.