Career and U.S. Bar Information

U.S. Bar Exam Information

The LL.M. in American Legal Studies is not specifically designed for U.S. bar examination preparation, however, after graduation from the program, many of our students sit for the New York or other state bar exams. We urge students who are interested in taking a U.S. bar exam to review the Comprehensive Guide to Bar Admission Requirements, which lists the bar eligibility requirements for the 50 states and the District of Columbia. This guide is published by the National Conference of Bar Examiners.

Information about the New York bar is available at Foreign-trained attorneys should pay particular attention to Rule 520.6 of the Court of Appeals for the Admission Attorneys and Counselors at Law and to the pre-LL.M. education requirements. Foreign-trained attorneys must submit an evaluation of their foreign credentials up to one-year in advance of sitting for the New York bar exam. Students interested in sitting for the D.C. bar exam should review the complete eligibility requirements on the D.C. Bar website and consult with the LL.M. Director regarding course selections.

Bar Examination Preparation Classes                                           

Although the cost of taking a bar prep course is expensive, they are usually well worth the money.  We have found over the past few years that students who choose to save the money and study on their own usually do not pass the examination while those who take the course do significantly better.

Although William & Mary does not offer bar preparation courses, nor endorses any particular company, students are strongly encouraged to research the many bar prep course options available.  Several of the top companies provide on-campus representatives who can help students with their course decisions.

New York Bar Exam

Foreign-trained LL.M. students who wish to take the New York Bar Exam must complete at least 12 credits of required classes of the 24 credits needed for the LL.M. degree including:

  • Introduction to the American Legal System  (or equivalent course): 3 credits – offered in summer only
  • Legal Writing and Research for LL.M.s: required - 2 credits  – offered in fall & spring
  • Professional Responsibility: 2 or 3 credits – offered in fall & spring
  • Basic Lawyering Skills (1 credit) and Advanced Lawyering Skills (1 credit)

At least six credits from the following courses:

  • Civil Procedure (3 or 4 credits – fall)
  • Torts (4 credits – fall)
  • Business Associations or Corporations (3 or 4 credits – offered in fall & spring)
  • Evidence (4 credits – offered in fall & spring)
  • Property (4 credits – spring)
  • Contracts (4 credits – spring)
  • Constitutional Law (4 credits – spring)
  • Other courses may be eligible, please consult with Professor Stevenson for more information.

Because of these increased requirements, students who are opting to sit for the New York bar exam may be limited in their other course selections.

New York Bar Pro Bono Requirement

All candidates seeking admission after January 1, 2015, with the exception of admission on motion candidates, will need to file documentation showing that they have completed 50 hours of qualifying pro bono work, as required by Rule 520.16 of the Rules of the Court of Appeals. For further information regarding the implementation and requirements of the new rule, along with “Frequently Asked Questions,” please visit

William & Mary LL.M. students may satisfy the 50 hour pro bono requirement through a school sponsored externship during their spring semester. For more information, please read about externships here.

Optional Practical Training

Some LL.M. students choose to enhance their U.S. legal experience by gaining practical training in a law firm or other legal organization after graduation. W&M's Office of International Students, Scholars, & Programs will assist you with applying for Optional Practical Training (OPT) prior to graduation. For further information on OPT, visit William & Mary's Office of International Students, Scholars, & Programs.