Louisiana Bar Exam

Written by: Will Bond

Last updated:

Passing the Louisiana bar exam is an essential part of being admitted into the state’s bar and beginning a successful career practicing law.

In this guide, we’ll break down everything you need to get started, including:

  • The bar exam’s eligibility criteria, content, and structure
  • The steps you can take in order to give yourself the best chance of passing on your first attempt
  • The additional requirements you’ll need to satisfy in order to become admitted into the state’s bar

We’ll also briefly look at the requirements you’ll need to satisfy in order to maintain your attorney license.

Recommended: Interested in getting started? We recommend Kaplan’s bar exam preparation materials, which come with a free retake guarantee, interactive and flexible learning, and lawyer-led tutoring.

4.7 out of 5 starsKaplan ($1,699+)

Louisiana Bar Exam Overview

The Louisiana Committee on Bar Admissions (the Committee) — created by the Louisiana Supreme Court to oversee the admission of bar applicants — is responsible for administering the bar exam in this state.

The Louisiana bar exam takes place twice a year at the end of February and July, but the exact dates vary slightly from year to year. For the current testing year (2024), the bar exam will occur between February 19 and 23 as well as between July 22 and July 26.

In order to take the bar exam, you’ll need to submit an application by November 2 for the February bar exam or February 1 for the July bar exam. You’ll also need to pay a filing fee with your application, which ranges from $850 to $975 depending on the candidate.

Late filing is available for submissions made after the deadlines outlined above — up until December 15 for the February exam and May 15 for the July exam — though you’ll have to pay a $850 late filing fee. The Committee won’t consider any applications received after these final deadlines.

Bar Exam Prerequisites

Keep in mind that in order to qualify for the Louisiana bar exam, you will need to satisfy the following eligibility requirements per Rule XVII, Section 3 of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Louisiana:

  1. Age Requirement: All candidates must be at least 18 years old in order to qualify.
  2. US Citizenship: Applicants to the Louisiana bar must either be a US citizen, have been granted permanent residence, or otherwise be authorized to work in the United States.
  3. Moral Character: Applicants must demonstrate they possess a sound mind and the character and fitness necessary to practice law in this state, according to Section 5 of this rule.
  4. Legal Education: All candidates must have graduated with a Juris Doctorate (JD) degree — or its equivalent — from an American Bar Association (ABA)-accredited law school and provide a written certification from their school’s dean or chancellor as proof of this.
    • Graduates of foreign law schools must submit an application for an equivalency determination to the Committee under Section 6 of this rule

You can read about these requirements in more detail in the Rules of the Supreme Court of Louisiana, Rule XVII, Section 3.

Note: Prospective applicants enrolled in a Louisiana law school must take part in the Law Student Registration (LSR) Program during the second year of their degree (see below).

Louisiana Exam Structure

Unlike the majority of other US states, Louisiana opted to forgo the Universal Bar Exam (UBE) in favor of its own proprietary assessment made up of two parts.

Part 1 of the Louisiana bar exam adheres to the following structure:

Day 1:

  • Civil Code I (Two Hours)
  • Civil Code II (Two Hours)
  • Civil Code III (Three Hours)

Day 2:

  • Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure (Two Hours)
  • Torts (Two Hours)
  • Business Entities (Three Hours)

Day 3:

  • Constitutional Law (Two Hours)
  • Criminal Law and Procedure & Evidence (Two Hours)
  • Federal Jurisdiction & Procedure (Three Hours)

For Part 2 of the Louisiana bar exam, all candidates must take the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) through the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE).

Below, we’ve broken down the content and structure of each exam-related requirement in more detail.

Part I: A Nine-Part Examination

Part I of the Louisiana bar exam primarily includes essay questions along with a few multiple-choice questions. This part has nine distinct tests, which take place over the course of three days:

  1. Civil Code I
  2. Civil Code II
  3. Civil Code III
  4. Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure
  5. Torts
  6. Business Entities
  7. Constitutional Law
  8. Criminal Law and Procedure & Evidence
  9. Federal Jurisdiction & Procedure

These nine tests are divided into two categories, depending on the skills they assess in applicants:

  • Code Exams (Tests 1-5): These tests will mainly assess your knowledge and application of statutory law and the Louisiana Civil Code. They cover specific legal codes and their interpretations, including topics like contracts, torts, property, and civil procedure
  • Non-Code Exams (Tests 6-9): These tests will assess your understanding of broader legal principles and professional skills. They cover a wider range of topics, including constitutional law, legal ethics, legal writing, and evidence

Each of these tests is worth 100 raw points, although the code subjects carry double the weight of their counterparts and contribute 60% to your overall score. In order to pass Part I of the Louisiana bar exam, you’ll need to obtain a minimum weighted score of 650 out of a possible 900 points.

Recommended Course

Interested in getting started? We recommend Kaplan’s bar exam preparation materials, which come with a free retake guarantee, interactive and flexible learning, and lawyer-led tutoring.

4.7 out of 5 starsKaplan ($1,699+)

For a more in-depth look into the content of each test in Part I of the Louisiana bar exam, you can find practice paper questions on the Louisiana Supreme Court Committee on Bar Admissions website.

Part 2: The Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE)

The MPRE is made up of 60 multiple-choice questions (50 scored questions and 10 unscored questions) and is administered via Pearson VUE.

Like the MBE exam, each question offers four possible answers, one of which is correct.

The exam’s content is based on law that relates to the conduct and discipline of attorneys and judges and includes the American Bar Association’s (ABA) Model Rules of Professional Conduct and Model Code of Judicial Conduct, as well as important constitutional common law and generally accepted principles.

In relation to questions of professional responsibility in the context of evidentiary issues (e.g., litigation sanctions, attorney-client evidentiary privilege, etc.), the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the Federal Rules of Evidence will apply unless otherwise stated.

Note: You will have two hours to complete the MPRE exam in its entirety, and must obtain a score of 80 or higher in order to pass.

For more information, we recommend having a look at the National Conference of Bar Examiners’ (NCBE) Official Sample Test Questions document. A holistic Subject Matter Outline is also offered.

How to Pass the Louisiana Bar Exam

In order to give yourself the best chance of passing the Louisiana exam on your first attempt, it’s important to take enough time to make sure that you are adequately prepared.

Louisiana Bar Exam Tips

Despite the infamous difficulty of Louisiana’s bar exam, passing it on your first attempt is definitely possible with the right tools and preparation techniques.

Below, we’ve broken down a few key tips that should aid you in your licensing journey:

  • Start Strong in Your First Year: This is important due to the fundamental areas of law practice that the first year of law school generally covers, such as Contracts, Tort, and Constitutional Law
  • Leverage Academic Support: If your law school offers additional support services that are aimed at improving your preparation, we recommend utilizing these as much as possible. This can involve one-on-one tutoring, academic counseling, and mock exam programs
  • Obtain Practical Legal Experience: If possible, we recommend gaining as much practical experience as you can during law school (i.e., through summer internships, mock trials, etc.). This is because this can go a long way in cementing your legal knowledge
  • Adopt a Broad Study Approach: When studying for the bar, you should aim for a wide-ranging understanding of various subjects rather than an in-depth study of a few. This is important due to the huge amount of content that you will need to learn and/or will be tested on

Most importantly, make sure you remain consistent so that you do not have to resort to last-minute cramming.

Research has shown that we are able to retain a higher degree of information – and more easily – when revisiting old content in comparison to when learning it for the first time. This is known as Ebbinghaus’s Forgetting Curve.

Recommended: Interested in getting started? We recommend Kaplan’s bar exam preparation materials, which come with a free retake guarantee, interactive and flexible learning, and lawyer-led tutoring.

4.7 out of 5 starsKaplan ($1,699+)

Other Louisiana Bar Requirements

Apart from qualifying for and passing the Louisiana bar exam, you’ll need to meet several other requirements in order to become — and remain — a licensed attorney in the state. These include:

  1. Taking the Law Student Registration (LSR) Program
  2. Satisfying the Good Moral Character and Fitness Requirements
  3. Undergoing Fingerprinting and Criminal Background Checks
  4. Completing the Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) Requirements

1. Taking the Law Student Registration (LSR) Program

In Louisiana, all prospective applicants to the bar who’re currently enrolled at a Louisiana law school must take part in the LSR Program during the fall semester of their second year of legal studies.

Students may complete this program online through the Committee’s website between the registration period of August 1 and October 1.

This mandatory program is important for a number of reasons, including:

  1. Early Character and Fitness Review: The LSR Program allows the Committee to get a head start on an applicant’s character and fitness review process, enabling it to identify any potential issues early on. This can help applicants address any concerns beforehand and avoid delays in their bar application process later.
  2. Streamlined Application Process: Participating in the LSR Program during your second year of law school simplifies the bar application process when you’re ready to take the exam. You also won’t need to pay an additional fee for the character and fitness review because the Committee will have already started it through the LSR Program.
  3. Early Access to Information: Participating in the LSR Program provides you with early access to valuable information and resources related to the bar exam and the application process. This allows you to start planning and preparing for the exam well in advance.

If you fail to register for the LSR Program, you’ll incur an additional $350 fee when you eventually apply to take the bar exam.

Note: This requirement only applies to prospective applicants who’re currently studying at a law school based in Louisiana. All other applicants can ignore this step.

2. Satisfying the Good Moral Character and Fitness Requirements

In order to maintain the quality of the administration of justice in Louisiana, each candidate to the state bar must be able to prove they possess the moral character and fitness required to carry out the duties of this profession.

To this end, the Committee’s Panel on Character and Fitness (the Panel) will look into the past conduct of each applicant in search of a record that justifies the trust of clients, courts, and other professionals in this industry.

If your application shows a distinct lack of these essential qualities — such as honesty, reliability, trustworthiness, and attention to detail — the Panel may recommend the denial of your application to the bar.

Evidence of the following in your past conduct may harm your application:

  • Arrests and Criminal Convictions
  • Unlawful Conduct
  • Any Acts of Fraud or Dishonesty
  • Abuse of the Legal Process
  • Neglecting Professional Responsibilities
  • Academic Misconduct

There’s no set length of time it takes the Committee to conduct this character and fitness investigation because it can depend on a number of factors, including when you submitted your questionnaire to the NCBE, how long it takes the NCBE to hear back from your references, and if the Committee needs to conduct any further inquiries.

Note: Don’t worry if you haven’t heard back from the Committee regarding this investigation before the date of your bar exam; you may still take it even if your character and fitness review is pending.

3. Undergoing Fingerprinting and Criminal Background Checks

As part of your application to take the bar exam in Louisiana, all applicants must undergo fingerprinting as well as state and federal criminal background checks.

To initiate this process, you’ll need to enroll on the IdentoGO website with the Committee’s unique service code: 27N41T. This code also appears on the Fingerprint Service Code Form — so make sure to keep it on hand when completing your enrollment.

Once you complete this, you’ll be able to schedule an appointment at your local IdentoGO fingering location and obtain more information on what to bring on the day.

Note: For more details on these required criminal background checks, see the Committee’s Criminal Background Check Information report.

4. Completing the MCLE Requirements

In order to remain compliant with the Louisiana State Bar Association, you must complete at least 12.5 hours of approved MCLE credits each calendar year. As part of this annual requirement, at least one hour should focus on both legal ethics and professionalism.

For newly admitted Louisiana attorneys, at least eight of these 12.5 hours in the first calendar year following their admission should cover any combination of the following areas:

  • Legal Ethics
  • Professionalism
  • Law Office Management

While attorneys may use computer-based credits as a substitute for attending MCLE activities in person, there’s a four-hour limit for such computer-based courses each year.

Note: You’ll have until Jan. 31 of the following calendar year to provide the MCLE Committee with records that prove your compliance with these continuing education requirements.

Admission on Motion (Reciprocity)

Unlike states using the Uniform Bar Examination (UBE), Louisiana doesn’t offer admission on motion to its state bar.

This means all applicants, regardless of their bar admission status in another jurisdiction, must take and pass the Louisiana bar exam or be specially admitted under another rule to practice law in the state.

If you’re not a graduate of an ABA-accredited law school and haven’t already passed the Louisiana bar exam, you must therefore fulfill the standard admission requirements for becoming a lawyer outlined at the start of this article.

Louisiana Bar Exam FAQ

How hard is the Louisiana bar exam?

In addition to lasting longer than bar exams in most other states (three days vs. two), Louisiana’s bar exam can be particularly challenging to prepare for because it’s largely based on content unique to the courses of Louisiana law schools.

Is the Louisiana bar exam different?

Yes. Unlike the majority of states that adopted the Uniform Bar Examination (UBE), Louisiana has its own unique bar exam that lasts three days instead of the standard two and assesses candidates on different content. To learn more about how this exam is different, check out our Louisiana Bar Exam article.

What is the pass rate for the Louisiana bar exam?

Despite being so different from the majority of bar exams taken in states across the country, the Louisiana bar examination actually has quite a high overall pass rate. Specifically, around 70% of test-takers achieve a passing score. Check out our What is the Bar Exam article for information on how to get started working toward passing the exam yourself.

Can you take the bar exam without going to law school in Louisiana?

No. When it comes to legal education, the only stipulation is that Louisiana bar applicants is that they’re graduates of a law school accredited by the American Bar Association. While there’s no requirement to study at a law school based in Louisiana, this can certainly prove beneficial because a large part of the bar exam will assess content specific to courses from schools in this state.