How to Become a Lawyer in North Carolina

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To practice law in North Carolina, a person must become a member of the State Bar, which usually takes at least a year from the start of the application process for new attorneys. An applicant who successfully completes all portions of the bar admissions process will be granted a license to practice law in North Carolina.


Applicants who are licensed attorneys in other states typically have to complete fewer steps than new attorneys to receive a North Carolina law license.

Things You'll Need

  • Enrollment in law school
  • Application for Admission to Take the North Carolina Bar Examination (this is an online application)
  • $700.00

Law School and MPRE

  • Apply and enroll in an accredited law school. North Carolina requires license applicants to complete a law school program; these are typically three years in length.

    The law school application process varies depending on the school, but typically includes taking the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) and submitting the required application form and fee.

  • Take and pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE). The exam is held three times a year and is typically taken after completion of the second year of law school. It is designed to test a student's knowledge of the rules governing attorney conduct.

    Passing the MPRE is required before a student can apply to become a licensed attorney in North Carolina. Additional information on registration and exam dates is available in the Resource section of this article.

  • Receive a Juris Doctor, or law degree, from an accredited law school. A law degree is required to practice law in North Carolina. Applicants must have received the law degree before the bar exam or within thirty days after the exam.

Bar Application and Exam

  • Register for access to the North Carolina Board of Law Examiners (NCBE) Online Character and Fitness Application. This application is required to apply for a license to practice law in North Carolina.

    To register for access to the application, you must first obtain a password. To do this, go to the NCBE website and click on the "Applications" page. On this page, you must click "new users register to get a password" link and complete the registration as instructed. A link to the NCBE website is provided in the Resources section of this article.

    Both new and previously licensed attorneys must register for access to this application.

  • Complete the NCBE Online Character and Fitness Application. Supply all required background information including: family history, past and current residences, education, military service, past and present employment, credit status, involvement in disciplinary, civil or criminal proceedings, substance abuse, mental treatment and bar admission and discipline history. In 2011, the application must be submitted by the first Tuesday in January along with the $700.00 fee. This application must be approved by the board before an applicant is permitted to take the bar exam.

    Previously-licensed attorneys must also complete this application and pay a $2,000 fee. After approval of this application, a previously-licensed attorney is granted a license to practice law in North Carolina without the additional steps required for new attorneys.

  • Take and pass the bar examination. After applicants' character and fitness applications are approved, they may register to take the bar exam. As of 2010, the Board of Law Examiners offers this exam twice a year, in February and July. Subjects possibly included on the exam are: Business Association, Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law and Procedure, Evidence, Family Law, Legal Ethics, Real Property, Secured Transactions including The Uniform Commercial Code, Taxation, Torts, Trusts, Wills, Decedents' Estates and Equity.

    After passing the bar exam, the applicant is granted a license to practice law in North Carolina.

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