The Maryland Bar Application: What Every Applicant Needs to Know
So you are ready to graduate from law school and begin working as an attorney in the State of Maryland. Of course, things are not quite so simple. Earning your juris doctor is just the first step. Before you can practice law, you must first apply for admission to the Maryland Bar. The admission process itself involves several steps and requires you to provide a significant amount of background information to the State Board of Law Examiners. Here is a brief rundown of the Maryland Bar application process.
Are You Eligible for Bar Admission?
First things first: Are you eligible to sit for the Bar exam? According to Rule 19-201 of the Rules Governing Admission to the Bar of Maryland, you must have already completed your “pre-legal education”–i.e., received a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university–and graduated from an ABA-approved law school in the United States (or be on the cusp of graduating). The law school requirement may be waived if you have already been admitted to the Bar of another state, remain in good standing of the Bar of that state, and the Board finds you are qualified by reason of education or experience to take the Maryland Bar Examination.
How do I Apply?
Assuming you meet the eligibility requirements, your next step is to file an application. More precisely, you must create and submit an online Bar Application and Notice of Intent through the Board of Law Examiners’ eBar web portal. The Notice of Intent refers to your intentions to take the Bar examination, which is administered each February and July.
Together with your application and notice, you must also pay certain mandatory fees. The Bar Application fee is either $225 or $275, depending on how early you file. There is then a separate fee to take the Bar exam itself, which is $250. You may also be charged a separate fee if you wish to use your laptop during the Bar exam itself.
What Additional Information do I Need to Provide?
You are responsible for filing an official transcript from your undergraduate institution with the State Board of Law Examiners. This transcript must be filed before or together with your Bar Application. You must also make arrangements with your law school to have them send your final transcripts to the Board. These transcripts must be received by September 1 if you took the Bar exam the preceding July, or by March 15 if you took the Bar exam the preceding February.
Finally, you need to provide the Board with information that is considered relevant to your personal character, which includes, but is not limited to, the following:
- a Certificate of Good Standing from any other state Bar where you are currently admitted to practice law, together with records of any disciplinary decisions issued against you;
- if you served in the armed forces, a copy of your official discharge papers, including documents related to any court martial initiated against you;
- a recent copy of your credit report from any of the three major reporting agencies;
- copies of any civil judgments or court decisions issued against you–including orders related to child support or alimony–issued by any court in the United States; and
- any documents related to criminal charges brought against you, even in cases where you may have been charged but not tried or convicted.
Need Help Proving Your Character to the Board of Law Examiners?
Keep in mind that when it comes to personal character, the burden is on you as the applicant to demonstrate to the Board’s satisfaction that your application should be approved. If you do run into trouble during a character investigation, you have the right to speak to a Maryland professional licensure attorney. Contact the Law Firm of J.W. Stafford, L.L.C., today at 410-514-6099 if you need assistance in dealing with the Board of Law Examiners on any issue related to your Bar admission.
(image courtesy of Rob Bye)