Washington, D.C. Bar Exam: What You Need to Know

If you plan on practicing law in Washington, D.C. then you have a sizeable challenge ahead of you. However, before you can even begin to think about practicing law in D.C., you will need to qualify for, sit for, and pass the Washington, D.C. Bar Exam. The first step in successfully completing this process is to read the rest of this article, which will go over the qualification for sitting for the D.C. Bar Exam, how the test is formatted, where to get application materials, and what is on the exam.


The first qualification to sit for the Washington, D.C. Bar Exam is to be a graduate from an ABA approved law school with a J.D. or an L.L.M. If you have not graduated from an ABA approved law school you will need to complete at least 26 semester hours of coursework that covers the subjects that are tested during the Washington, D.C. Bar Exam. You will need to have these credits approved and reviewed by the Committee on Admissions. They can be contacted at:

Committee on Admissions
500 Indiana Avenue N.W., Room 4200
Washington, D.C. 20001

You will also need to take the Multistate Professional Responsibilities Exam and pass it with a score of at least 75.

Finally you will need to take and pass a mandatory course that covers the D.C. Rules of Professional Conduct. For more information about this course please contact the D.C. Bar at (202) 626-1315 or 1-877-33-DCBAR, ext. 315


Once you have met your educational requirements you will need to fill out and submit a complete application package along with the $100 application fee by the stated deadlines. In addition to the $100 application fee you will also need to pay a $48 testing fee for the MSE and a $40 testing fee for the essay exams. You can request an application package from the D.C. Court of Appeals, or you can download the materials from their website.

D.C. Court of Appeals
Committee on Admissions
500 Indiana avenue N.W., Room 4200
Washington, D.C. 20001
(202) 737) 4700 Telephone Number


The Washington, D.C. Bar Exam will be administered over a two day period. On the first day you will be given two Multistate Performance Tests and Six Multistate Essay Questions. The Multistate Performance Test will be used to test your abilities to perform basic legal procedures such as preparing a brief and composing legal documents. The testing agent will provide you with all of the information needed to perform these tasks, however, you will need to determine what references to use, how to format your response, and how to cite the sources that you used. On the second day of the exam you will take the Multistate Bar Exam, which is made up of 200 multiple choice questions that cover a variety of legal topics that are applicable to the U.S. in general.


The Multistate Bar Exam, as mentioned above is made up of 200 multiple choice questions. These questions will not cover how the topic are interpreted in Washington, D.C., but will instead cover their general application in the United States. The topics that will be covered in this section include:

1. Constitutional Law
2. Contracts and Sales
3. Criminal Law and Procedures
4. Evidence
5. Real Property
6. Torts

The remaining sections of the Washington, D.C. Bar Exam will generally cover the following topics as they are interpreted in Washington, D.C.:

1. Administrative Law
2. Contracts
3. Agency
4. The Uniform Commercial Code
5. Equity
6. Business Associations
7. Conflicts of Laws
8. Evidence
9. Torts
10. Wills, Trusts, and Estates
11. Family Law
12. Real and Personal Property
13. Civil Procedures
14. Criminal Procedures
15. Constitutional Law
16. Criminal Law
17. Legal Ethics
18. Tax Law

The following online resources provide reference materials that cover the above topics:

1. Washington, D.C. Legal Code can be found at http://government.westlaw.com/linkedslice/default.asp?rs=gvt1.0&vr=2.0&sp=dcc-1000

2. The Uniform Commercial Code can be found at http://www.law.cornell.edu/uniform/ucc.html

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