Reciprocity is the process where an attorney allowed to lawfully practice law in one state may also practice law in another state. Most states have some form of reciprocity on the bar exam. However, no state has reciprocity with all states. A handful of states do not allow reciprocity at all. Due to reciprocity issues, some law students opt to take multiple bar exams so they can be licensed in multiple states.
Some states offer partial reciprocity based on specific parts of the bar exam. These are different components that you may not need to retake once you have taken them in one state. These include the multi-state bar exam, the multi-state essay exam, the multi-state performance test and the multi-state professional responsibility exam. Every state uses the multi-state bar exam portion of the test, but only some states use the multi-state performance test and the multi-state essay test. About 20 different states offer some form of partial reciprocity.
These states do not offer reciprocity or only offer it in very limited circumstances; California, Delaware, Florida, Guam, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, West Virginia.
Criteria for Reciprocity
Examples of criteria used to grant reciprocity to out-of-state lawyers often include: the number of years you've been practicing, the law school attended, performance on the multi-state portion of the bar, the state you are licensed in and your standing with the state you are licensed in. Some states granting reciprocity only grant it to a small number of states in the same geographic area. Others grant reciprocity in 10 to 25 different states.
Pro Hoc Vice
Even if you are unable to get reciprocity in another state, it is often possible to practice law in that state for a very limited purpose by receiving a pro hoc vice status. The criteria for receiving a pro hoc vice status is similar to the criteria necessary for reciprocity, but often less stringent.
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