California Bar Admissions Information

Checklist of Dates, Applications & Fees Required for Admission to the California Bar

This document is intended to help students begin to prepare for the California State Bar application process and does not substitute your own research. As fees and dates can change without notice, please visit to ensure the accuracy of all information contained in this document. Fees provided are current as of August 2014.

Registration with the Committee of Bar Examiners

Students are required to register with the California Committee of Bar Examiners as a law student. You likely did this during your first 90 days of law school as a first-year. If you did not, you can still do so, but you may be charged a late registration fee. You can register at the above listed website for the CA state bar. Fee: $108 (not including late fees)

You can find additional information on California Bar admissions here:
For admission information in all jurisdictions:

Complete the Requisite Legal Education

You must graduate from law school and be certified by the Registrar’s Office to take the CA bar exam. For those without a law school degree, visit the state bar website for other requirements. Fee: add up your student loan debt or amount paid in cash/credit

Application for the Determination of Moral Character

A positive moral character determination is a prerequisite to being admitted to the CA state bar and practicing law in CA. The filing of the moral character application begins the process of character investigation, which generally takes 8 to 10 months (sometimes longer). “Good moral character” includes but is not limited to qualities of honesty, fairness, candor, trustworthiness, observance of fiduciary responsibility, respect for and obedience to the law, and respect for the rights of others and the judicial process. Fee: $500 (if moral character application is denied, there is another $500 to appeal the state bar’s determination).

Live Scan Fingerprinting

State law mandates that the State Bar of California “… require that an applicant for admission or reinstatement to the practice of law in California… be fingerprinted in order to establish the identity of the applicant and in order to determine whether the applicant or member has a record of criminal conviction…” An Application for Determination of Moral Character or Application for Extension of Determination of Moral Character will not be considered complete without the appropriately processed fingerprints. Applicants who reside in California must submit fingerprints via Live Scan technology. Whittier Law School will bring fingerprinting opportunities to the campus; read the bar prep newsletters and email blasts for dates. Note: The paper copy of your Moral Character Application must be received within 90 days of the date your fingerprints are processed or your application will be considered incomplete. In the event, you cannot attend the fingerprinting on campus and/or cannot submit your Moral Character Application within 90 days of the on campus fingerprinting, you can find a live scan fingerprinting location at Fee: Varies (usually between $20 and $40).


The current minimum Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) score required for admission to practice law in California is a scaled score of at least 86. Applicants may take the examination anytime after completing their first year of study and after registering with the Committee of Bar Examiners (Committee). It is necessary for an applicant to request that his/her score be reported or transferred to California. Simply being a California applicant or resident will not cause this to occur. More information regarding the examination dates and content is provided by the NCBE through the following link: Fee: $80

Bar Exam Application

To practice law in CA, all applicants must file an application to take the California Bar Examination and after eligibility has been confirmed, take and pass the examination. The deadline to apply for the bar exam becomes available on October 1 for the February exam and March 1 for the July exam. Timely filing ($50 to $250 late fees) is November 1 for the February bar exam and April 1 for the July bar exam. Fee for timely filing: $614 for hand writers and $753 for typists (includes a laptop computer fee)

Laptop Certification

If you plan on using a laptop computer for the essay and performance test portion of the CA bar exam, you must apply for laptop certification and pay the additional $139 laptop fee included above in the fee to take the bar exam for typists. Only laptop computers will be allowed into the examination room, and they must meet the specifications outlined in this bulletin. Applicants requiring special equipment due to medical reasons must request permission to use such equipment through the testing accommodations petition process. For requirements on laptops and information regarding downloading SofTest (as of the July 2013 bar exam) visit: Go to the state bar website to make sure that the requirements have not changed for your particular bar exam date. Fee: $139 (paid with application to take the bar exam).

Testing Accommodations

Applicants with disabilities are granted reasonable testing accommodations provided that they submit a petition for testing accommodations o the Committee’s forms with the required documentation and are able to establish to the satisfaction of the Committee the existence of a disability that prevents them from taking an examination under standard testing conditions. An applicant must apply for accommodations separate from their application to take the bar exam. An applicant is encouraged to file a Petition For Testing Accommodations as far in advance as practicable. To allow sufficient processing time, general applicants are encouraged to submit their petitions at least by the beginning of their last year of law study. If an applicant waits until the final examination application deadline (January 15 for the February bar exam and June 15 for the July bar exam) for a particular examination to petition for testing accommodations, it is possible that processing will not be completed or the applicant will not be able to complete all required or available procedures prior to administration of the examination. If a law school has provided testing accommodations, a qualified applicant must submit the petition with the designated Committee form, completed by a law school official or legal education supervisor. If a complete petition is filed at least six months before the examination for which testing accommodations are sought, the applicant may expect a final determination at least a month before the examination. For more information on the rules visit: and Fee: None

Comply with CA-court ordered child or family support obligations (if applicable)

Applicants who have met all other requirements but who have been certified by the State Department of Social Services as being in non-compliance with court ordered child or family support will not be certified to the Supreme Court as qualified to practice law in California unless the appropriate release has been obtained.

Take the Attorney’s Oath within 5 years of passing the CA bar exam

Your bar examination results are valid for five years from the last day of administration of the examination you passed. Your have five years to complete the attorney’s oath as well as your membership enrollment card, which you must send to the State Bar of California’s Membership Records office. Whittier Law School provides access to the oath (by both state and federal judges) on campus at our swearing in ceremonies (dates and times announced after bar results are published). Note that you cannot be sworn in or take the oath until you have completed all of the above requirements. Fees: Admission Certificate $81, Supreme Court Enrollment Fee $5 (federal district fees varies, for CA state bar dues, these are prorated for your first year, but are otherwise $420 per year).

Helpful Links

California State Bar
CA Bar Exam General Info.
Moral Character Info.
Past exams and answers
ABA Scholarships
OC Bar Assoc. Scholarships
Cal Bar Foundation Scholarships
OC Women Lawyers Scholarships