Have you ever had a dream that was kept on halt due to a lot of circumstances?  Whether controllable or uncontrollable, there is always a perfect timing for everything though.  I was raised in a family where education has been inculcated as the best investment and gift one could have for your family and self. 

My dream of becoming a New York lawyer is not a “spur of the moment decision”.  I graduated in 2009 from a prominent and competitive law school in Manila, Philippines, took the 2009 Bar Exams and passed it on first try.  I had plans then of reviewing for the New York Bar (not yet UBE as it is today).  Before I started law school, I took the Certified Public Accountant Licensure Exams and passed it.  It was exhausting and never would I take it again even if I’m paid a hefty sum. I got tired of the continuous studies and preparing for national licensure exams.  Thus, I unconsciously joined the workforce and never enrolled in any higher education/graduate courses for more than thirteen (13) years. 

The dream of becoming a New York lawyer with reference to the famed characters Harvey Specter or Mike Ross of the series, Suits, has been known to my select few law school and childhood friends.  But priorities changed and circumstances happen along the way, the lack of financial resources and poor time management set in.  Until the pandemic happened. 

The pandemic has taught me a lot of life lessons.  While on lockdown, it dawned on me that this would be the perfect time to start the process of becoming a New York lawyer.  Law studies and bar reviews in the US was conducted online which gives everyone around the world in equal footing, save for the in-person scheduled exams.


As a foreign graduate, the usual route is to enroll in an American Bar Association (ABA)-approved law school in the US for Master of Laws (LLM) to be eligible to sit in the Bar Exams.  This was not an option for me, for time and financial constraints and upon a thorough evaluation of whether or not this could be the best investment at that moment.  Fortunately, I came across a vlog from Gordon Chung entitled How I Become a Lawyer in New York.  It was informative that it served as my guide for my whole application process. 

I could not find any written or video material of a Filipino lawyer who took the New York Bar Exams under the Uniform Bar Exams (UBE).  The Uniform Bar Examination (UBE) is a standardized bar examination in the United States developed by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE), and which New York State has adopted the same effective July 2016. 

Hence, this guide. 

First and foremost, for a foreign graduate, an application for eligibility to sit for the New York Bar Exam should be made before the NYS Board of Law Examiners.  I have decided then that once evaluation results came out and in the event that I would be required to take up Master of Laws in an ABA-accredited law school, then I have to defer this dream of becoming a New York lawyer once again. 

FIRST, CREATE A NATIONAL CONFERENCE OF BAR EXAMINERS (“NCBE”) ACCOUNT.  This is essential as all communications in the entire application and examination process would make reference to the NCBE Number that will be assigned to you.   

Click this link and just complete the relevant information as required in the boxes and navigate through the pop ups until you reach the last window and consequently to your created dashboard.  Take note of your NCBE Number which is given in this format – N12345678. 

SECOND, CREATE A BOLE ACCOUNT at Navigate through the said website and click on Forms on the bottom which will direct you to Evaluation of Foreign Academic Credentials.  On the next pages, Create New BOLE Account and upon reaching the “Applicant Services Portal” enter your NCBE Number and click on Create New BOLE Account.  Fill out all the relevant information and once complete, an email shall be sent for your BOLE ID. 


This step is crucial for foreign-educated candidates who have no ABA-approved law school education.  After the creation of the BOLE account, there would be a window outlining how the NY BOLE will assess your foreign legal credentials and specific details are needed to complete this form.  When asked “Have you completed all of the educational/academic requirements for admission to the Bar in your Country?  You must click “Yes”.  Then you will be required to certify that all information provided is correct and accurate. 

Upon completion of the above online section of the application, the New York Board of Law Examiners will request your law school alma mater, to submit your University Transcripts and copy of Degree Certificate.  Documents should be sent directly by your University to:


Building 3- Corporate Plaza

254 Washington Avenue Extension

Albany, New York

12203-519, USA 

Always ensure that any correspondence sent to the NY State Board of Law Examiners references your BOLE ID. 

Upon receipt of the credentials, an email will be sent to the one used in the registration process advising candidates to allow NY Board of Law Examiners up to 6 months to evaluate and confirm eligibility.   

I am fortunate for the swift response of my alma mater and in a matter of two (2) months from the last email on receipt of credentials, I received an email on confirming my eligibility to sit for the New York State Bar Exams last July 2021.


I actually took a different path on the completion of all requirements to be admitted to the New York Bar.  To sit for the July Bar Exams, registration should be made between April 1-30 and between November 1-30 for the February exams.  There are no exceptions or late filing deadlines. 

There are three scheduled exams that an applicant to the New York Bar must hurdle:

1.     Multi-State Professional Responsibility (MPRE) – which we are all familiar as the Legal Ethics.   The passing score in New York State for the MPRE is 85.   

This is scheduled every March/August/November of each year.


EMPIRE STATE PLAZA, ALBANY, New York - testing site for the Bar Exams and venue for the swearing-in ceremonies

2.    Complete the New York Law Course (NYLC) and pass the New York Law Exam.  The NYLC is an online course on important and unique aspects of New York Law in the subjects of Administrative Law, Business Relationships, Civil Practice and Procedure, Conflicts of Laws, Contracts, Criminal Law and Procedure, Evidence, Matrimonial and Family Law, Professional Responsibility, Real Property, Torts and Tort Damages and Trusts, Wills and Estates.  The NYLC consists of approximately 15 hours of online lectures with embedded questions that must be answered correctly before an applicant can continue viewing the lecture.  Access to the NYLC can be done through the BOLE Account and it is free of charge while the NYLE requires a registration fee of about $29 payable to Examsoft. 

Applicants must complete the NYLC before they can take the NYLE.  The NYLE is a two-hour open-book test but who would have the time and luxury to open books for a 50-item multiple choice test on a wide scope of New York laws.  An applicant who fails the NYLE will be required to retake both the NYLC and the NYLE. 

The NYLE is conducted at least three times in a year but you have to be cautious of the registration deadlines.  All deadlines are based on Eastern Time.  The month of exam dates vary though as I took the 16 June 2022 NYLE but schedule for the upcoming NYLE seems to be different:


Dates of NYLE

Registration Deadline

Thursday, December 14, 2023 12:00PM 

Tuesday, November 14, 2023 11:59PM

Thursday, April 11, 2024, 12:00PM

Tuesday, March 12, 2024 11:59PM

Thursday, September 19, 2024 12PM

Tuesday, August 20, 2024 11:59PM 

Results came out two weeks after the exam and was sent thru email.  It’s either PASS or FAIL.  The passing score for the NYLE is 60%. 

I took and passed both the MPRE and NYLE prior to the July 2023 UBE, which is not a usual route for foreign graduate applicants as some would register and take the exams after results came out for the UBE.  I took the risk of registering and taking these exams even prior to the UBE, as I intend to finish all examinations at the soonest possible time since time is of the essence in my case for obvious reasons of financial constraints.


3.  The US Bar Exam (tested on federal laws) is administered on the last Tuesday and Wednesday every February and July.  I passed the July 2023 UBE where I took the same at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center, Albany, New York.


The Bar Exam is a 12-hour test broken into two-days of testing with the first day:  the Multi-State Essay Exam (MEE) and the Multi-State Performance Test (MPT) and the second day for the Multi-State Bar Exam (MBE). 

The MEE consists of six 30-minute questions.  Areas of law that may be covered on the MEE include the following:  Business Associations (Agency and Partnership, Corporations and Limited Liability Companies), Civil Procedure, Conflict of Laws, Constitutional Law, Contracts including Article 2 of the Uniform Commercial Code, Criminal Law and Procedure, Evidence, Family Law, Real Property, Torts, Trusts and Estates, and Article 9 (Secured Transactions) of the Uniform Commercial Code.

The MPT consists of two 90-minute practice set.  The specific assignment the examinee is to complete is described in a memorandum from a supervising attorney.  The File may include transcripts of interviews, depositions, hearings or trials, pleadings, correspondence, client documents, contracts, newspaper articles, medical records, police reports or lawyer’s notes.  The volume of documents provided needs to sorted in a matter of 45 minutes for each item.  Time management was a challenge but with constant practice, work product is attainable.  With over a decade of experience of being a lawyer in the Philippines, this component becomes relatively manageable (but not easy).

However, I opted for the handwrite portion for the MEE and MPT, thus, the challenge of continuously writing for 90 minutes, doing the outlines and finalizing the work product/pleading was exhausting and indeed challenging.  My only consolation is that, I don’t have to worry on any technical issues in the administration and submission of my answers. 

The MBE consists of 200 multiple-choice questions: 175 scored and 25 unscored pretest questions.  The pretest questions are indistinguishable from those that are scored; thus, it is important to answer all the questions. 

NCBE scores the MBE component for the entire UBE-states of America.  The NY Board of Law Examiners grade the MEE and MPT component.  The MEE and MPT scores are scaled to the MBE and UBE total scores are calculated by NCBE. The MBE is weighted 50%, the MEE 30% and the MPT 20%.  UBE total scores are reported on a 400-point scale and the passing rate for the State of New York is 266. 

To save expenses and time, I would suggest either of the following schedule:

a.     If you want to take the February Bar Exams, register for the March MPRE and take the NYLC and NYLE after; or

b.     If you want to take the July Bar Exams, register for the August or November MPRE and consequently, complete the NYLC and NYLE 

In this case, you would make the most out of your itinerary while in New York. 


            In my case, I was fortunate to have been given the opportunity to serve through the Integrated Bar of the Philippines-Makati City Chapter Legal Aid Clinic.  For a consecutive number of Wednesdays last 2022, when I go back to Manila, I served as volunteer lawyer for the Legal Aid Clinic at the Makati City Hall. 



The path to become a New York Lawyer is not an easy feat as what the movies or our favorite series would depict.  Since I do not have the luxury of prolonging the process, I risked it all and took whatever is available at the earliest possible schedule while working in Manila.  I flew to New York City for the in-person exams and it was financially challenging and time consuming.  However, the rewards are unimaginable and I am looking forward to being part of the New York Bar.  There really is no limit to what one can achieve and for now, I am contemplating if a Master’s Degree in the US is still a viable and worthy investment.


I am proud and grateful to say that apart from being a Certified Public Accountant and a Bar Passer of the Philippines, I am now a New York State Bar passer, which likewise serves as my UBE admission now adopted by 41 jurisdictions/states of the United States of America. 

As a lawyer practicing corporate and international law, there is no other city that can improve and enhance my legal career other than New York - the world’s capital of the legal profession.

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