Illinois Bar Requirements for Foreign Law Graduates

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By Steven Soto, BARBRI Legal Coordinator

Are you considering becoming qualified to practice law in the United States? Illinois may be just the place to dual-qualify and expand your career.

While many non-U.S. educated law graduates and attorneys who study with BARBRI for their bar prep go on to practice in New York or California, BARBRI provides study options for all 50 states. The rules to practice law in some states are stricter than others, so it’s worth reviewing the following information to see if qualifying in Illinois is a possibility for you.

What are the Illinois Bar Exam requirements for foreign law graduates?

In New York or California, a degree in English common law or an attorney certificate may be enough to establish eligibility to sit for the state bar exam. Other states in the U.S. allow foreign-trained attorneys without a U.S. LL.M. degree to sit for the bar exam combined with other requirements. Illinois is one such state.

To qualify to sit for the Illinois Bar Exam as a foreign-educated applicant, you must meet the following threshold requirements:

  1. Must have been licensed to practice law in the country in which your law degree was conferred and/or in the highest court of law in any U.S. state, territory or the District of Columbia for a minimum of 5 years;
  2. Be in good standing as an attorney or equivalent in that country and/or in any U.S. jurisdiction where admitted to practice;
  3. During each of no fewer than 5 of the 7 years immediately prior to making an application in Illinois, you must have verifiably devoted an annual minimum of 1,000 hours to the practice of the law of such country and/or to the law of any U.S. jurisdiction(s) where licensed.

With all of the above threshold requirements met, you are eligible to apply for permission to sit for the Illinois Bar Exam. Please see Rule 715 from the Illinois Board of Admissions for more details.

U.S. qualification is achievable

Passing this state bar exam and becoming a licensed U.S. attorney is a great way to add valuable credentials to your C.V. or resume. It will allow you to work with international clients for a globalized career.

Think you meet the above requirements? Feel free to contact a BARBRI representative to discuss your options. Or, fill out an application to apply to the Illinois Bar here.

To learn more about your eligibility, including in states like California and New York, visit our foreign eligibility page.

Best regards on your international career journey!

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