What Is Bar Reciprocity, and How Does It Work?

Eric Cervone
If you’re an attorney moving out of state, determining bar reciprocity should be at the top of your list when researching your new home.

If you’re an attorney moving out of state, determining bar reciprocity should be at the top of your list when researching your new home.

Jacob Ammentorp Lund via iStock

If you’ve passed the bar exam in one jurisdiction but are looking to practice law in another, you may not have to retake the bar exam in your new jurisdiction. Many states offer what is known as bar reciprocity. If you’ve already passed the bar exam and have practiced law for a specified time, you might be eligible to be admitted on motion (also known as “waiving”) into your new jurisdiction. Being admitted on motion means that instead of retaking the bar exam, you’ll simply have to submit your application for admission to the jurisdiction’s bar, which may include proving you have good moral character, retaking the MPRE, or other requirements. And if your application is accepted, you’ll be able to practice in your new state.

The National Conference of Bar Examiners provides a comprehensive guide to bar admissions—which it updates annually—but below, we’ve provided a summary of how each United States jurisdiction handles reciprocity. It’s important to keep in mind that jurisdictions might update their reciprocity rules. Be sure to check with your new state’s bar about their specific reciprocity rules before making any decisions.

If you do find yourself having to retake the bar exam in your new state, you may feel confident preparing on your own, having already succeeded on one exam. But keep in mind that there are now many affordable, quality bar review options on the market, like Quimbee! For just $999, Quimbee Bar Review offers a comprehensive program that features real, licensed questions; attorney-graded essays; and unique, beautifully designed videos. We hope the information in this article gives you the information you need to skip the bar exam, but if not, we’re here for you.

Alabama

  • Provides for admission on motion: Yes
  • Required number of years practicing to be admitted on motion: five of previous six
  • Admission on motion fee: $875

Alaska

  • Provides for admission on motion: Yes
  • Required number of years practicing to be admitted on motion: five of previous seven
  • Admission on motion fee: $1,500

Arizona

  • Provides for admission on motion: Yes
  • Required number of years practicing to be admitted on motion: three of previous five
  • Admission on motion fee: $1,800

Arkansas

  • Provides for admission on motion: Yes
  • Required number of years practicing to be admitted on motion: three of previous five
  • Admission on motion fee: $1,500

California

  • Provides for admission on motion: No, though attorneys with an active license who have practiced for at least four years may take the one-day Attorneys’ Examination in lieu of the full-length bar exam.

Colorado

  • Provides for admission on motion: Yes
  • Required number of years practicing to be admitted on motion: three of previous five
  • Admission on motion fee: $1,800

Connecticut

  • Provides for admission on motion: Yes
  • Required number of years practicing to be admitted on motion: five of previous 10
  • Admission on motion fee: $1,800

Delaware

  • Provides for admission on motion: No

District of Columbia

  • Provides for admission on motion: Yes
  • Required number of years practicing to be admitted on motion: none
  • Admission on motion fee: $418

Florida

  • Provides for admission on motion: No

Georgia

  • Provides for admission on motion: Yes
  • Required number of years practicing to be admitted on motion: five of previous seven
  • Admission on motion fee: $600

Hawaii

  • Provides for admission on motion: No

Idaho

  • Provides for admission on motion: Yes
  • Required number of years practicing to be admitted on motion: three of the previous five
  • Admission on motion fee: $1,000

Illinois

  • Provides for admission on motion: Yes
  • Required number of years practicing to be admitted on motion: three of the previous five
  • Admission on motion fee: $1,250

Indiana

  • Provides for admission on motion: Yes
  • Required number of years practicing to be admitted on motion: five of previous seven
  • Admission on motion fee: $875

Iowa

  • Provides for admission on motion: Yes
  • Required number of years practicing to be admitted on motion: five of previous seven
  • Admission on motion fee: $900

Kansas

  • Provides for admission on motion: Yes
  • Required number of years practicing to be admitted on motion: five of previous seven
  • Admission on motion fee: $1,250

Kentucky

  • Provides for admission on motion: Yes
  • Required number of years practicing to be admitted on motion: five of previous seven
  • Admission on motion fee: $1,500

Louisiana

  • Provides for admission on motion: No

Maine

  • Provides for admission on motion: Yes
  • Required number of years practicing to be admitted on motion: three of previous five
  • Admission on motion fee: $900

Maryland

  • Provides for admission on motion: Yes
  • Required number of years practicing to be admitted on motion: three of previous five, or 10 total
  • Admission on motion fee: $700

Massachusetts

  • Provides for admission on motion: Yes
  • Required number of years practicing to be admitted on motion: five of previous seven
  • Admission on motion fee: $1,015

Michigan

  • Provides for admission on motion: Yes
  • Required number of years practicing to be admitted on motion: three of previous five
  • Admission on motion fee: $800

Minnesota

  • Provides for admission on motion: Yes
  • Required number of years practicing to be admitted on motion: three of previous five
  • Admission on motion fee: $1,150

Mississippi

  • Provides for admission on motion: Yes
  • Required number of years practicing to be admitted on motion: five
  • Admission on motion fee: $1,500

Missouri

  • Provides for admission on motion: Yes
  • Required number of years practicing to be admitted on motion: five of previous 10
  • Admission on motion fee: $1,240

Montana

  • Provides for admission on motion: Yes
  • Required number of years practicing to be admitted on motion: five of previous seven
  • Admission on motion fee: $2,500

Nebraska

  • Provides for admission on motion: Yes
  • Required number of years practicing to be admitted on motion: three of previous five
  • Admission on motion fee: $925

Nevada

  • Provides for admission on motion: No

New Hampshire

  • Provides for admission on motion: Yes
  • Required number of years practicing to be admitted on motion: five of previous seven or the past three
  • Admission on motion fee: $1,225

New Jersey

  • Provides for admission on motion: Yes
  • Required number of years practicing to be admitted on motion: five of previous seven
  • Admission on motion fee: $1,500

New Mexico

  • Provides for admission on motion: Yes
  • Required number of years practicing to be admitted on motion: five of previous seven
  • Admission on motion fee: $2,500

New York

  • Provides for admission on motion: Yes
  • Required number of years practicing to be admitted on motion: five of previous seven
  • Admission on motion fee: $400

North Carolina

  • Provides for admission on motion: Yes
  • Required number of years practicing to be admitted on motion: four of previous six
  • Admission on motion fee: $2,000

North Dakota

  • Provides for admission on motion: Yes
  • Required number of years practicing to be admitted on motion: four of previous five
  • Admission on motion fee: $400

Ohio

  • Provides for admission on motion: Yes
  • Required number of years practicing to be admitted on motion: five of previous 10
  • Admission on motion fee: $1,500

Oklahoma

  • Provides for admission on motion: Yes
  • Required number of years practicing to be admitted on motion: five of previous seven
  • Admission on motion fee: $2,000

Oregon

  • Provides for admission on motion: Yes
  • Required number of years practicing to be admitted on motion: five of previous seven
  • Admission on motion fee: $1,175

Pennsylvania

  • Provides for admission on motion: Yes
  • Required number of years practicing to be admitted on motion: five of previous seven
  • Admission on motion fee: $1,325

Rhode Island

  • Provides for admission on motion: No

South Carolina

  • Provides for admission on motion: No

South Dakota

  • Provides for admission on motion: Yes
  • Required number of years practicing to be admitted on motion: three of previous five
  • Admission on motion fee: $650

Tennessee

  • Provides for admission on motion: Yes
  • Required number of years practicing to be admitted on motion: five of previous seven
  • Admission on motion fee: $1,100

Texas

  • Provides for admission on motion: Yes
  • Required number of years practicing to be admitted on motion: five of previous seven
  • Admission on motion fee: $890

Utah

  • Provides for admission on motion: Yes
  • Required number of years practicing to be admitted on motion: five of previous seven
  • Admission on motion fee: $850

Vermont

  • Provides for admission on motion: Yes
  • Required number of years practicing to be admitted on motion: five of previous ten, or past three
  • Admission on motion fee: $800

Virginia

  • Provides for admission on motion: Yes
  • Required number of years practicing to be admitted on motion: three of previous five
  • Admission on motion fee: $2,500

Washington

  • Provides for admission on motion: Yes
  • Required number of years practicing to be admitted on motion: three of previous five
  • Admission on motion fee: $620

West Virginia

  • Provides for admission on motion: Yes
  • Required number of years practicing to be admitted on motion: five of previous seven
  • Admission on motion fee: $2,000

Wisconsin

  • Provides for admission on motion: Yes
  • Required number of years practicing to be admitted on motion: three of previous five
  • Admission on motion fee: $850

Wyoming

  • Provides for admission on motion: Yes
  • Required number of years practicing to be admitted on motion: five of previous seven
  • Admission on motion fee: $600

Guam

  • Provides for admission on motion: No

Northern Mariana Islands

  • Provides for admission on motion: No

Puerto Rico

  • Provides for admission on motion: No

US Virgin Islands

  • Provides for admission on motion: Yes
  • Required number of years practicing to be admitted on motion: five of previous seven
  • Admission on motion fee: $2,500

If you’re an attorney moving out of state, determining bar reciprocity should be at the top of your list when researching your new home. With any luck, you’ll be able to waive into your jurisdiction and avoid the headaches (which you almost certainly remember) that come with the bar exam. And if not, Quimbee Bar Review can make studying just a little easier. Have a safe and enjoyable move!

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Eric Cervone

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Eric Cervone is a staff author at Quimbee. He holds a BA from the University of Pittsburgh, a JD from Notre Dame Law School, and an LLM from Duke University.