Reciprocity / Admission on Motion

“Reciprocity”

The word “reciprocity” is commonly used to describe several different types of bar admission rules and procedures. These rules and procedures include transferring bar exam scores, attorneys’ exams, and admission based on previous practice in another jurisdiction. For the purposes of BarReciprocity.com, “bar reciprocity” and “admission on motion” are used interchangeably. Both terms refer to the type of bar admission where attorneys licensed in other jurisdictions may be admitted without taking the bar exam based on the active practice of law for a specified number of years. States have also described this type of bar admission as admission without examination or admission by comity.

Individuals and official state websites may also use the term “reciprocity” to refer to Bar Exam Reciprocity. Bar exam reciprocity means transferring a bar exam score from one jurisdiction to another. Attorneys might take advantage of bar exam score transfers when they are not eligible for bar reciprocity/admission on motion. For bar exam reciprocity, the bar exam score transfers to the new jurisdiction and typically exempts attorneys from having to take the Multistate Bar Exam (multiple choice) or otherwise allows attorneys to use the previous MBE score. Thus, attorneys are only required to take the written portions of the new jurisdiction’s bar exam. This process may also be referred to as an Attorneys’ Exam. In addition, the entire previous bar exam score may also transfer to a new jurisdiction. These transfers occur between jurisdictions that use the Uniform Bar Exam.

“Reciprocity” may also refer to federal court admission based on a state law license outside of the state where the federal court is located. For example, Iowa federal courts require attorneys to be admitted to the Iowa bar. Colorado federal courts allow attorneys to be admitted with a Colorado license or license from any other state. Colorado federal courts may be referred to as having “reciprocity” with Iowa but not vice versa.

Types of Bar Reciprocity (Admission on Motion)

Even when “Bar Reciprocity” is used to describe admission on motion, it is an umbrella phrase that covers several categories of bar reciprocity admission. Once again, bar reciprocity and admission on motion refer to the practice where attorneys licensed in other jurisdictions may be admitted without taking the bar exam based on the active practice of law for a specified number of years. The bar reciprocity requirements for a particular jurisdiction fall into one of the following categories:

  • No Admission on Motion allowed
  • Admission on Motion allowed based on Criteria (attorneys from any state may admitted)
  • Admission on Motion based on Reciprocity (Attorneys may be admitted if attorneys from the admitting jurisdiction can be admitted to the transferring jurisdiction under similar rules.)
  • Semi-Pure Reciprocity (Attorneys may be admitted if attorneys from the admitting jurisdiction can be admitted to the transferring jurisdiction under similar rules, but applicants are subject to the more stringent rules, requirements, and fees of the transferring jurisdiction if applicable.)
  • Pure Reciprocity (Attorneys may be admitted based on the rules of the transferring jurisdiction.)

The following map identifies the different categories of bar reciprocity. Please click on the state where you seek admission to view that state’s individual admission requirements and that jurisdiction’s list of reciprocal jurisdictions.

States admitting attorneys from other jurisdictions based on Criteria and not reciprocity
States admitting attorneys based on a form of Reciprocity
States that do provide rules for Admission on Motion

For Semi-Pure and Pure Reciprocity jurisdictions, a common requirement for admission is a passing score on the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (“MPRE”) if the attorney’s home jurisdiction requires the MPRE for attorneys seeking admission on motion in the attorney’s home jurisdiction. The map below identifies the states that require the MPRE for admission on motion.

Bar Reciprocity MPRE Requirement Map

MPRE is required for Admission on Motion
MPRE is required if the attorney’s home jurisdiction requires the MPRE for Admission on Motion.

Overall, the process and language can be confusing for law students, newly admitted attorneys, and experienced attorneys. BarReciprocity.com strives to simplify the bar reciprocity process by providing each jurisdiction’s basic admission requirements and lists of reciprocal jurisdictions. Washington and Wyoming do not publish lists of their reciprocal jurisdictions. This makes the process even more difficult. The bar reciprocity lists for those three states are not available at this time.

2 Responses to Reciprocity / Admission on Motion

  1. Justin Johnson says:

    Unfortunately, we do not have that information consolidated. Some jurisdictions identify Puerto Rico and other US territories on their reciprocity lists as being reciprocal or non-reciprocal. We’ve included links to the “official” reciprocity lists for each jurisdiction’s website. It’s a painful process, but you could review those lists to determine if Puerto Rico is included. The few jurisdictions I tried specifically excluded Puerto Rico (Alaska, Arizona, Pennsylvania).

  2. juan pagan says:

    Interested in finding out if there are any states that provide reciprocity with the Puerto Rico, territory of US

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