Administrative Code

Virginia Administrative Code
3/3/2024

Chapter 10. Rules of the Virginia Board of Bar Examiners

Part I
General Provisions

18VAC35-10-10. Examinations.

A. Unless otherwise directed by the board, in each year bar examinations will be held on two successive days in either the City of Richmond or Norfolk beginning on the Tuesday immediately preceding the last Wednesday in February at 9 a.m., and in the City of Roanoke beginning on the Tuesday immediately preceding the last Wednesday in July at 9 a.m.

B. Each examination will consist of two parts, with each part having a morning and afternoon session. The first part, given on Tuesday, is the essay part which is prepared and graded under the supervision of the Virginia Board of Bar Examiners. This part will test the applicant's knowledge of:

Agency

Conflict of Laws

Constitutional Law

Contracts

Corporations

Creditor's Rights

Criminal Law and Procedure

Domestic Relations

Equity

Evidence

Federal Practice and Procedure

Local Government Law

Partnerships

Personal Property

Professional Responsibility

Real Property

Sales

Suretyship

Taxation

Torts

Trusts

Uniform Commercial Code

Virginia Pleading, Practice and Procedure in law and equity (including appellate procedure)

Wills and Administration of Estates

The second part, given on Wednesday, is the Multistate Bar Examination, compiled and graded under the supervision of the National Conference of Bar Examiners Office of Testing. The second part will test the applicant's knowledge of:

Constitutional Law;

Contracts;

Criminal Law;

Evidence;

Real Property;

Torts.

C. All applicants must concurrently take the essay part and the multistate part of an examination at the same exam administration in Virginia. The scores of both parts will be weighted and combined to determine if the applicant has achieved an overall passing score as set by the board. Such weighting shall be made by a credit of 60% being given the score made on the essay part and a credit of 40% being given the scale score made on the multistate part. Only applicants who achieve such overall passing score will be licensed to practice law in Virginia.

Statutory Authority

§§ 54.1-3922 and 54.1-3927 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR168-01-02 § 1.1, eff. October 1, 1993.

18VAC35-10-20. Academic requirements.

A. An applicant for a Virginia bar examination shall:

1. Have received a degree from a law school approved by the American Bar Association, or the board; or

2. Be enrolled and in good standing in any such approved law school and, in the course of regular study, complete all degree requirements prior to the time such examination is given; or

3. Have been approved by the board and thereafter completed the required period of law study as set forth in the Law Reader Program Rule and Regulations of the Virginia Board of Bar Examiners.

B. An applicant who has received a portion of his legal training in a foreign law school is also required to have received a degree from an American Bar Association approved law school, and if such degree is other than the LL.B or J.D., the applicant shall furnish a certificate from the dean, assistant dean or acting dean of an American Bar Association approved law school in Virginia that his foreign legal education, together with his approved law school degree, is the equivalent of that required for an LL.B or a J.D. degree in such dean's law school. In addition, such applicant must furnish to the board evidence of his foreign legal degree and of his degree from the American Bar Association approved law school.

C. No applicant will be issued a license to practice law in this state until he has received a degree from an approved law school, or has successfully completed the required period of law study referred to above, and has furnished evidence of the same to the board.

D. Study by correspondence or in a nonapproved law school does not meet the foregoing requirements.

Statutory Authority

§§ 54.1-3922 and 54.1-3926 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR168-01-02 § 1.2, eff. October 1, 1993.

18VAC35-10-30. Character requirements.

A. No person shall be licensed to practice law in Virginia by the Virginia Board of Bar Examiners unless such person first produces evidence satisfactory to the board that the applicant is a person of honest demeanor and good moral character and possesses the requisite fitness to perform the obligations and responsibilities of a practicing attorney. The applicant has the burden to prove by clear and convincing evidence that he possesses these qualifications. If an applicant fails to answer any question on the Character and Fitness Questionnaire or which is otherwise propounded by the board, or to supply any requested documentary material, the board may find that the applicant has not met the burden of proving his good moral character.

B. The primary purposes of character and fitness screening before admission to the Virginia bar are to assure the protection of the public and safeguard the system of justice. An attorney should be one whose record of conduct justifies the trust of clients, adversaries, courts, and others with respect to the professional duties owed to them. A record manifesting a significant deficiency in the honesty, trustworthiness, diligence, or reliability of an applicant may constitute a basis for denial of admission. The revelation or discovery of any of the following may be treated as cause for further inquiry before the board decides whether the applicant possesses the character and fitness to practice law:

1. Commission or conviction of a crime;

2. Violation of the honor code of the applicant's college or university, law school, or other academic misconduct;

3. Making of false statements or omissions, including failing to provide complete and accurate information concerning the applicant's past;

4. Misconduct in employment;

5. Other than an honorable discharge from any branch of the armed services;

6. Acts involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation;

7. Abuse of legal process;

8. Neglect of financial responsibilities;

9. Neglect of professional obligation;

10. Violation of an order of a court;

11. Evidence of mental or emotional instability;

12. Evidence of an existing and untreated drug or alcohol dependency;

13. Denial of admission to the bar in another jurisdiction on character and fitness grounds;

14. Disciplinary action by a lawyer disciplinary agency or other professional disciplinary agency of any jurisdiction, including pending, unresolved disciplinary complaints against the applicant;

15. Commission of an act constituting the unauthorized practice of law, or unresolved complaints involving allegations of the unauthorized practice of law; or

16. Any other conduct which reflects adversely upon the character or fitness of an applicant.

C. The board shall determine whether the present character and fitness of an applicant qualify the applicant for admission to the practice of law. In making this determination, the following factors will be considered in assigning weight and significance to the applicant's prior conduct:

1. Age of the applicant at the time of the conduct;

2. Recency of the conduct;

3. Reliability of the information concerning the conduct;

4. Seriousness of the conduct;

5. Factors underlying the conduct;

6. Cumulative effect of the conduct or information;

7. Evidence of rehabilitation;

8. Positive social contributions of the applicant since the conduct;

9. Candor of the applicant in the admissions process; and

10. Materiality of any omissions or misrepresentations.

D. Each applicant must file with the board a completed character and fitness questionnaire and pay the required character investigation fee. Applicants may submit their character and fitness questionnaires as soon as they begin their second semester of law school and are encouraged to file their questionnaires as early as possible. Any applicant who believes he may have a character or fitness problem should file early so that such potential problem may be resolved as soon as practicable. The investigation fee shall be set from time to time by the board. The current fee schedule is available from the Office of the Secretary of the board.

Statutory Authority

§§ 54.1-3922 and 54.1-3925.1 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR168-01-02 § 1.3, eff. October 1, 1993.

18VAC35-10-40. Applicant eligibility.

Any person who meets the foregoing education, character and fitness requirements may file an application to take a Virginia bar examination.

Statutory Authority

§ 54.1-3922 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR168-01-02 § 1.4, eff. October 1, 1993.

Part II
Filing Procedure

18VAC35-10-50. Procedure for completing and filing application.

A prospective applicant should read these rules thoroughly before attempting to complete and submit an application for a bar examination.

It is the responsibility of each applicant to see that his application is filed in strict compliance with these rules. Such application shall: (i) be on the proper form with all answers fully and accurately supplied; (ii) contain the filing fee and all required attachments; and (iii) be RECEIVED in the Office of the Secretary on or before the filing deadline. All recitals in and provisions of the application shall become binding upon the applicant when filed.

If an application contains all required attachments and is otherwise complete and properly submitted, the applicant will be informed by the Office of the Secretary that he is filed for the current examination.

If an application does not contain all required attachments, or is otherwise incomplete or improperly submitted, the applicant will be informed by the Office of the Secretary that he is not filed for the current examination. If the application is not properly completed by a specified date, the applicant will be advised that his application is being carried forward to the next Virginia bar examination. The applicant must thereafter supply the missing attachments or information by the appropriate deadline to be considered filed for the subsequent examination.

Statutory Authority

§§ 54.1-3922 and 54.1-3925 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR168-01-02 § 2.1, eff. October 1, 1993.

18VAC35-10-60. Fees.

The application fee shall be set from time to time by the board and shall be in addition to the character investigation fee. The current fee schedule is available from the Office of the Secretary. No application will be considered filed unless at the time it is delivered to the Office of the Secretary there is attached the current application fee in the form of a cashier's or certified check or money order made payable to "Virginia Board of Bar Examiners." NO APPLICATION ACCOMPANIED BY CASH, PERSONAL CHECK OR FIRM CHECK WILL BE ACCEPTED. The application fee shall be nonrefundable. NO PART OF THE APPLICATION FORM OR REQUIRED ATTACHMENTS MAY BE TRANSMITTED BY A FACSIMILE MACHINE.

Statutory Authority

§§ 54.1-3922 and 54.1-3925 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR168-01-02 § 2.2, eff. October 1, 1993.

18VAC35-10-70. Filing deadline.

The proper form of application for examination, complete with fee and all required attachments, must be RECEIVED in the Office of the Secretary on or before December 15 when applying for the February examination, or May 15 when applying for the July examination. ABSOLUTELY NO APPLICATIONS RECEIVED AFTER SUCH DATES WILL BE ACCEPTED. APPLICANTS WHO MAIL THEIR APPLICATIONS OR USE DELIVERY SERVICES DO SO AT THEIR OWN RISK. No application for Examination will be accepted unless the applicant's completed character and fitness questionnaire, with the applicable fee, has been previously filed with the secretary of the board or is filed simultaneously with the application for examination. Early filing of the character and fitness questionnaire is encouraged.

Statutory Authority

§§ 54.1-3922 and 54.1-3925 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR168-01-02 § 2.3, eff. October 1, 1993.

18VAC35-10-80. Form required.

When filing for examination in Virginia for the first time, the applicant shall submit the Application For Examination and For License To Practice Law (a white form), with all answers fully supplied and all required attachments enclosed.

When an applicant has taken a previous Virginia bar examination, the applicant shall submit the Application For Re-Examination (a blue form), with all answers fully supplied and all attachments enclosed.

Current forms for application may be obtained from the Office of the Secretary; Mutual Building, 909 East Main Street, Richmond, VA 23219-3013, or from the Registrar's Offices of the approved law schools in Virginia and in the District of Columbia.

The application form and all attachments should be neatly typed or printed in dark blue or black ink, and the applicant should use his full legal name (first, middle or maiden, and last, Jr., etc.) in all places where such name is required.

Applications must be sworn to or affirmed before a notary public and must bear the notary's seal.

Statutory Authority

§§ 54.1-3922 and 54.1-3925 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR168-01-02 § 2.4, eff. October 1, 1993.

Part III
Attachments Required of All Applicants

18VAC35-10-90. Educational certificates.

At the time an application is filed in the Office of the Secretary of the board, it must include the appropriate certification of the applicant legal education as described below. Such certificates must be original documents, personally signed, and where appropriate must be on school stationery and under school seal. Copies, transcripts, and rubber stamp signatures are not acceptable. The requirements are:

1. For graduates of approved law schools, a certificate from the president, dean, or other proper official stating what degree the applicant received and the date such degree was awarded;

2. For persons enrolled in law schools at the time of filing for examination, both: (i) a certificate dated within 90 days of the filing deadline, signed by the dean and a professor of the approved law school stating that the applicant is regularly enrolled and in good academic standing at said law school and is scheduled, in the regular course of study, to complete all requirements for a specified degree prior to the date of examination for which application is being made; and (ii) after all degree requirements have been completed the applicant must submit to the Office of the Secretary either a certificate of graduation or a certificate from the law school stating that the applicant has completed all degree requirements and the date such requirements were completed (which date must be prior to the date of the upcoming bar examination), and also stating the date on which the applicant will receive the degree from such law school. This certificate must be received before the date of the scheduled Virginia Bar examination;

3. For persons who have studied law under a supervising attorney in the approved law reader program, on forms provided by the Office of the Secretary of the board, either: (i) certification that the entire required period of study has been completed, or will be completed prior to the examination, under the supervision of an approved attorney; or (ii) certification that the required period of study was completed partly in an approved law school and partly in an approved attorney's office.

Statutory Authority

§§ 54.1-3922 and 54.1-3926 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR168-01-02 § 3.1, eff. October 1, 1993.

18VAC35-10-100. Character and fitness investigation.

Every applicant for a Virginia bar examination must have produced satisfactory evidence that he meets the requirements of these rules.

Statutory Authority

§§ 54.1-3922 and 54.1-3925.1 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR168-01-02 § 3.2, eff. October 1, 1993.

18VAC35-10-110. Fingerprints.

Each applicant must file with his Application for Examination one set clear and distinct fingerprints, making certain that all the personal history data (height, weight, age, etc.) is listed in the space provided on the fingerprint card, and that the card is signed both by the applicant and the person taking the fingerprints. These fingerprints must be taken by an authorized police official on the form prescribed by the Secretary of the board, a form used by authorized police officials, or the form for an "Applicant" by the U.S. Government Printing Office (Form 1-391).

Statutory Authority

§ 54.1-3922 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR168-01-02 § 3.3, eff. October 1, 1993.

18VAC35-10-120. Photographs.

Each applicant for examination must attach to the proper application form two identical unmounted, passport-style photographs of himself taken within the preceding twelve months. Snapshots will not be accepted.

Statutory Authority

§ 54.1-3922 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR168-01-02 § 3.4, eff. October 1, 1993.

Part IV
Attachments Required of Some Applicants

18VAC35-10-130. Certificates of good standing.

Any applicant for a Virginia bar examination who has been admitted to the bar of another jurisdiction must attach to his application for examination a certificate of good standing from a judge or the clerk of the court of last resort of each such jurisdiction. Such certificate must be an original document and dated within one year of the filing deadline for such examination. If an applicant has ever applied for admission, by examination or otherwise, to any jurisdiction and was not admitted thereto, he must file with his application a statement listing each such jurisdiction and the date of application, and stating the reason the applicant was not admitted. No applicant who is, at the time of filing his application or subsequently, under disbarment or suspension in any jurisdiction, shall be eligible to take the Virginia bar examination.

Statutory Authority

§§ 54.1-3922 and 54.1-3931 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR168-01-02 § 4.1, eff. October 1, 1993.

18VAC35-10-140. Applicants with foreign legal training.

Any applicant who has received a portion of his legal training in a foreign law school should consult subsection B of 18VAC35-10-20 and enclose the required attachments with the application for examination.

Statutory Authority

§§ 54.1-3922 and 54.1-3931 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR168-01-02 § 4.2, eff. October 1, 1993.

18VAC35-10-150. Certification of study for reexamination.

An applicant for reexamination in Virginia shall execute and file with his other application materials, upon a form provided by the Office of the Secretary of the board, a certificate that he will have within the four months preceding the examination, studied diligently not less than 90 hours in preparation therefor.

Statutory Authority

§ 54.1-3922 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR168-01-02 § 4.3, eff. October 1, 1993.

18VAC35-10-160. Supplementary sheets.

Any questions on the application form which cannot be fully answered in the space provided may be answered on a supplementary sheet, so long as the appropriate space on the application notes the attachment of supplementary sheets, and each sheet is on standard 8½ inch paper, properly labeled, and signed by the applicant.

Statutory Authority

§ 54.1-3922 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR168-01-02 § 4.4, eff. October 1, 1993.

18VAC35-10-170. Applicants with disabilities.

It is the policy of the board that the Virginia bar examination be administered to all eligible applicants in a manner that does not discriminate against applicants with proven disabilities. An applicant who is otherwise eligible to take the Virginia bar examination may request a modification of the manner in which the examination is administered if, by reason of a temporary or permanent disability, such applicant is unable to take the examination under normal testing conditions. An applicant requesting non-standard testing conditions must file with the secretary, NOT LATER THAN THE FILING DEADLINE FOR THE APPLICATION FOR EXAMINATION, a Petition for Non-Standard Testing Conditions on the form available from the secretary as early as possible to permit an evaluation of the request. Insofar as practicable any accommodation requested shall be consistent with the security of the examination.

Statutory Authority

§ 54.1-3922 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR168-01-02 § 4.5, eff. October 1, 1993.

Part V
Reexaminations

18VAC35-10-180. Requirements for reexamination.

Any applicant failing to pass an examination may, after such failure, be reexamined not exceeding four additional times, provided that no examination may be taken more than five times except upon conditions recited in § 54.1-3930 of the Code of Virginia. Upon seeking reexamination, the applicant shall:

1. File the Application for Reexamination, with all required attachments enclosed, in the place and by the deadlines described herein;

2. Pay the current application fee at the time of filing the application;

3. File a supplement to his character and fitness questionnaire, updating the information therein. The board may require a new character and fitness investigation if more that two years has elapsed since the applicant's graduation from law school or from the date of the completion of the original character and fitness investigation; and

4. Procure and file current certificates of good standing from the court of last resort of all jurisdictions to which the applicant has been admitted.

Statutory Authority

§ 54.1-3922 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR168-01-02 § 5.1, eff. October 1, 1993.

Part VI
Filing an Application but Not Taking the Examination

18VAC35-10-190. Procedure for taking examination.

An applicant who properly files for an examination with the Office of the Secretary but fails to take the examination shall forfeit the application fee for that examination unless:

1. By written notice to the Office of the Secretary such applicant requests that the application for examination on file be carried forward to an examination within one year of the date of the examination for which the original application was made.

a. Such notice shall be received by the Office of the Secretary of the board within 30 days of the date of the examination which the applicant missed;

b. The applicant shall thereafter timely file with the Office of the Secretary of the board such documents as are necessary to update the application for the subsequent examination, including: (i) a statement of intention to sit for such examination; (ii) a supplement to the applicant's character and fitness questionnaire; (iii) a notarized statement regarding any criminal offenses of which the applicant may have been convicted since the filing of the original application, or a statement that there have been none; and (iv) current certificates of good standing from the court of last resort of any jurisdiction to which the applicant has been admitted; and

c. In case the application fee for the examination has been increased since the examination for which the applicant did not appear, he shall pay the amount of the difference.

2. No portion of the application fee shall be refundable.

Statutory Authority

§ 54.1-3922 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR168-01-02 § 6.1, eff. October 1, 1993.

Part VII
Additional Information

18VAC35-10-200. Applicant requirements.

A. Any person who has been admitted to practice before the court of last resort of any state or territory of the United States or of the District of Columbia may file an application to be admitted to practice law in this Commonwealth without examination, if counsel licensed to practice in Virginia may be admitted to practice in such jurisdiction without examination. Inquiries concerning the filing of such may be directed to Clerk, The Supreme Court of Virginia, Supreme Court Building, 100 North 9th Street, Richmond, Virginia 23219.

B. Every applicant will be required to sign the following pledge before taking the examination:

"I hereby certify that I will neither receive nor give aid or assistance in any manner during this examination. If any violation of this pledge by others comes to my knowledge, I will report it promptly to the examiners."

Should any applicant violate this pledge, his paper will not be read on that examination, nor will he be admitted to any future examinations; but the board may thereafter remove by unanimous vote such prohibition upon a showing of changed circumstances which, in its opinion, clearly justify such action.

C. Applicants must write the answers to the essay portion of the examination with ink (dark blue or black) or with typewriter, and must write the answers to the multistate portion of the examination with pencil. They may bring nothing else into the examination rooms. The board will furnish each applicant with material in which the answers to the questions shall be written.

D. The manner of dress for the examination shall conform to the standard of suitable attire for a lawyer appearing in a court of record; i.e., a suit or jacket with tie for males, or a suitable dress or suit for females.

E. The Office of the Secretary is located in the Mutual Building, 909 East Main Street, Richmond, Virginia 23219-3013. Telephone: (804) 786-7490.

Statutory Authority

§ 54.1-3922 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR168-01-02 § 7.1, eff. October 1, 1993.

FORMS (18VAC35-10).

Application for Examination and License to Practice Law (eff. 9/1/94).

Rules of the Virginia Board of Bar Examiners (eff. 4/94).

Applicant's Character and Fitness Questionnaire (eff. 2/11/94).

Schedule of Fees (eff. 10/15/94).

Supplement to Character and Fitness Questionnaire (eff. 3/8/94).

Fingerprint Form.

Petition for Non-Standard Testing Conditions.

Application for Re-Examination (eff. 10/1/93).

Update of Previously Filed Application (eff. 3/94).

Application for Law Reader Program.

Memorandum on the Concept of Reading Law Under an Attorney's Supervision.

Law Reader Program Rules (eff. 3/1/93).

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