WSR 05-01-042



[ December 6, 2004 ]




NO. 25700-A-805

The Washington State Bar Association having recommended the adoption of the proposed amendment to APR 3, and the Court having approved the proposed amendment for publication;

Now, therefore, it is hereby


(a) That pursuant to the provisions of GR 9(g), the proposed amendment as attached hereto is to be published for comment in the Washington Reports, Washington Register, Washington State Bar Association and Administrative Office of the Court's websites in January 2005.

(b) The purpose statement as required by GR 9(e), is published solely for the information of the Bench, Bar and other interested parties.

(c) Comments are to be submitted to the Clerk of the Supreme Court by either U.S. Mail or Internet E-Mail by no later than April 29, 2005. Comments may be sent to the following addresses: P.O. Box 40929, Olympia, Washington 98504-0929, or Comments submitted by e-mail message must be limited to 1500 words.

DATED at Olympia, Washington this 2nd day of December 2004.
For the Court
Gerry L. Alexander

GR 9 Cover Sheet




Submitted by the Board of Governors of the Washington State Bar Association

Purpose: Adopting this Admission to Practice Rule (APR) amendment will benefit the Washington legal, business and academic communities. The ability of international businesses to operate effectively from Washington, as part of the global economy, depends upon their ability to employ attorneys with comprehensive transnational and international legal knowledge and technical expertise in areas such as information technology, bio-technology and intellectual property rights. Permitting foreign attorneys who have received an LL.M. from an ABA-accredited law school to sit for the bar examination in Washington would remove procedural roadblocks to retaining that expertise within the State.

Washington has a long history and reputation as a center for high quality transnational and international legal education. Although the State's leading law schools recruit and educate outstanding foreign attorneys in their LL.M. programs, ineligibility to take the Washington Bar discourages enrollment in an LL.M. program in Washington and deters such outstanding attorneys from remaining in Washington after graduation. At present, the admission to practice rules in Washington allow such foreign attorneys to take the bar exam only after completion of the law clerk program or, in the case of common-law trained attorneys, after three years' practice in their home jurisdiction. The result is that, foreign attorneys who seek to work in Washington State, or who are recruited to do so, typically take the New York Bar Exam, which has an admission rule similar to this proposed amendment, as a prerequisite for employment. The proposed change addresses this anomalous situation enabling this small group of highly qualified, sought-after foreign attorneys. to take the bar examination in the State of Washington.

Most foreign attorneys taking an LL.M. program in the U.S. seek training in U.S. law as well as advanced education in a specialized field such as intellectual property. There is no uniform curriculum for LL.M. programs, but the overwhelming number of LL.M. programs requires completion of mandatory courses such as "Introduction to U.S. Law" and "Legal Analysis and Writing". Beyond these courses, students typically choose to take, or are required by the law school to take, a range of JD courses in U.S. law such as secured transactions, corporations, antitrust, bankruptcy, sales and administrative law.

The proposed rule change to APR 3 does not seek to prescribe a minimum number of U.S. law courses within the LL.M., on the basis that both LL.M. program design and the realities of practice require foreign attorneys to take more than the minimum required.

Allowing highly capable foreign attorneys with U.S. LL.M. degrees the opportunity to sit for the Washington bar examination would directly benefit Washington business, the legal profession and our higher education institutions. Adoption of these revisions to APR 3 will eliminate what has amounted to an unfair burden on this group of highly skilled and motivated students and practitioners, enabling them to sit for the Bar and, upon successful completion of its rigorous requirements, to practice law and contribute to Washington State.




(a) Prerequisite for Admission. [No change]

(b) Qualification for Bar Examination. To qualify to sit for the bar examination, a person must present satisfactory proof of either (i) graduation from a law school approved by the Board of Governors, or (ii) completion of the law clerk program prescribed by these rules, or (iii) admission to the practice of law by examination, together with current good standing, in any state or territory of the United States or the District of Columbia or any jurisdiction where the common law of England is the basis of its jurisprudence, and active legal experience for at least 3 of the 5 years immediately preceding the filing of the application. "Active legal experience" shall mean experience either in the active practice of law, or as a teacher at an approved law school, or as a judge of a court of general or appellate jurisdiction, or any combination thereof, in a state or territory of the United States or in the District of Columbia or in any jurisdiction where the common law of England is the basis of its jurisprudence or (iv) successful completion of legal studies in a country other than the United States from a law school that is recognized by a competent accrediting agency in that country as qualified and approved, and successful completion of an LL.M. program consisting of at least 20 credit hours or the equivalent in an American Bar Association approved law school in the United States.

(c) Exceptions. [No change]

(d) Forms; fees; filing. [No change]

Reviser's note: The brackets and enclosed material in the text of the above section occurred in the copy filed by the agency and appear in the Register pursuant to the requirements of RCW 34.08.040.

Reviser's note: The typographical error in the above material occurred in the copy filed by the State Supreme Court and appears in the Register pursuant to the requirements of RCW 34.08.040.

Legislature Code Reviser 


Washington State Code Reviser's Office