Bar reciprocity by state

Bar reciprocity in the United States is a concept that allows attorneys to practice law in a state other than the one in which they’re licensed. This can be especially useful for attorneys who want to temporarily work in a different state, or for those who have recently moved to a new state and wish to continue practicing law.

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Requirements to qualify for bar reciprocity

To get reciprocity in a new state, attorneys must typically apply for admission to the bar of that state. Each state has its own rules and requirements for admission, which may include:

  • passing an exam.
  • completing a certain amount of continuing legal education (CLE) credits.
  • submitting to a background check.

Some states have reciprocity agreements with other states, which allow attorneys who are licensed in those states to be admitted to the bar without having to take the exam or complete additional CLE requirements. This is often contingent on the lawyer having practiced law for a minimum amount of time. The state may also require a degree from an ABA accredited law school.

Alternatively, to get reciprocity, attorneys may need to apply for admission to the bar, register as in-house counsel, transfer their exam scores through the uniform bar exam, or qualify for a military spouse exemption.

Bar reciprocity by state

This list outlines where you can go based on which state you're admitted to practice law in. If there’s a state you’d like to transfer to, please check for the appropriate context and reciprocity requirements.

Alabama

May transfer to: AK, CO, CT, DC, GA, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NH, NJ, NM, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, TN, TX, UT, VT, VA, WA, WI, WY

Alaska

May transfer to: AL, AZ, AR, CO, CT, DC, GA, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VI, VA, WA, WI, WY

Arizona

May transfer to: AK, AR, CO, DC, GA, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VA, WA, WI, WY

Arkansas

May transfer to: AK, CO, CT, DC, GA, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NH, NJ, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VI, VA, WA, WI, WY

California

May transfer to: CO, DC, IL, IN, IA, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MT, NE, ND, OH, OR, TN, TX, VT, WA, WI

Colorado

May transfer to: AL, AK, AZ, AR, CT, DC, GA, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VI, VA, WA, WV, WI, WY

Connecticut

May transfer to: AL, AK, AR, CO, DC, GA, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VI, VA, WA, WV, WI, WY

Delaware

May transfer to: CO, DC, IL, IN, IA, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MT, NE, ND, OH, OR, TN, TX, VT, WA, WI

District of Columbia

May transfer to: AL, AK, AZ, AR, CO, CT, GA, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VI, VA, WA, WV, WI, WY

Florida

May transfer to: CO, DC, IL, IN, IA, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MT, NE, ND, OH, OR, TN, TX, VT, WA, WI

Georgia

May transfer to: AL, AK, AZ, AR, CO, CT, DC, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VI, VA, WA, WI, WY

Hawaii

May transfer to: CO, DC, IL, IN, IA, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MT, NE, ND, OH, OR, TN, TX, VT, WA, WI

Idaho

May transfer to: AK, AZ, AR, CO, DC, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VA, WA, WI, WY

Illinois

May transfer to: AL, AK, AZ, AR, CO, CT, DC, GA, ID, IN, IA, KS, KY, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VI, VA, WA, WV, WI, WY

Indiana

May transfer to: AL, AK, AZ, CO, CT, DC, GA, IL, IA, KS, KY, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NY, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VI, VA, WA, WV, WI, WY

Iowa

May transfer to: AK, AZ, AR, CO, CT, DC, GA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VI, VA, WA, WV, WI, WY

Kansas

May transfer to: AL, AK, AZ, AR, CO, CT, DC, GA, ID, IL, IN, IA, KY, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MO, MT, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, TN, TX, UT, VT, VA, WA, WI

Kentucky

May transfer to: AL, AK, AZ, AR, CO, CT, DC, GA, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NH, NJ, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VI, VA, WA, WV, WI, WY

Louisiana

May transfer to: CO, DC, IL, IN, IA, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MT, NE, ND, OH, OR, TN, TX, VT, WA, WI

Maine

May transfer to: AL, AK, AZ, AR, CO, CT, DC, GA, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VI, VA, WA, WV, WI, WY

Maryland

May transfer to: AZ, AR, CO, CT, DC, GA, IL, IN, IA, KS, ME, MA, MI, MN, MS, MT, NE, NH, NJ, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VI, VA, WA, WI, WY

Massachusetts

May transfer to: AL, AK, AZ, AR, CO, CT, DC, GA, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, ME, MD, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VI, VA, WA, WV, WI, WY

Michigan

May transfer to: AL, AK, AZ, AR, CO, CT, DC, GA, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, ME, MD, MA, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VI, VA, WA, WV, WI, WY

Minnesota

May transfer to: AL, AK, AZ, AR, CO, CT, DC, GA, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, ME, MD, MA, MI, MS, MO, MT, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VI, VA, WA, WV, WI, WY

Mississippi

May transfer to: AL, AK, AZ, AR, CO, CT, DC, GA, ID, IL, IN, IA, KY, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MO, MT, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, TN, TX, UT, VT, VA, WA, WV, WI

Missouri

May transfer to: AL, AK, AZ, AR, CO, CT, DC, GA, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, MT, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VI, VA, WA, WV, WI, WY

Montana

May transfer to: AK, AZ, CO, CT, DC, GA, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, NE, NH, NJ, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VI, VA, WA, WI, WY

Nebraska

May transfer to: AL, AK, AZ, AR, CO, CT, DC, GA, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VI, VA, WA, WV, WI, WY

Nevada

May transfer to: CO, DC, IL, IN, IA, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MT, NE, ND, OH, OR, TN, TX, VT, WA, WI

New Hampshire

May transfer to: AL, AK, AZ, AR, CO, CT, DC, GA, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NJ, NM, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VI, VA, WA, WI, WY

New Jersey

May transfer to: AK, AZ, AR, CO, CT, DC, GA, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NH, NM, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VI, VA, WA, WI, WY

New Mexico

May transfer to: AL, AK, AZ, CO, CT, DC, GA, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NH, NJ, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, TN, TX, UT, VT, VI, VA, WA, WV, WI, WY

New York

May transfer to: AK, AZ, AR, CO, CT, DC, GA, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VA, WA, WV, WI, WY

North Carolina

May transfer to: AK, AZ, AR, CO, CT, DC, GA, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NY, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VI, VA, WA, WV, WI, WY

North Dakota

May transfer to: AK, AZ, AR, CO, CT, DC, GA, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, OH, OK, OR, PA, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VI, VA, WA, WV, WI, WY

Ohio

May transfer to: AL, AK, AZ, CO, CT, DC, GA, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, ND, OK, OR, PA, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VI, VA, WA, WV, WI, WY

Oklahoma

May transfer to: AL, AK, AZ, AR, CO, CT, DC, GA, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, ND, OH, OR, PA, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VI, VA, WA, WV, WI, WY

Oregon

May transfer to: AL, AK, AZ, AR, CO, CT, DC, GA, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, PA, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VI, VA, WA, WI, WY

Pennsylvania

May transfer to: AL, AK, AZ, AR, CO, CT, DC, GA, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VI, VA, WA, WV, WI, WY

Puerto Rico

May transfer to: CO, DC, IL, IN, IA, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MT, NE, ND, OH, OR, TN, TX, WA, WI

Rhode Island

May transfer to: CO, DC, IL, IN, IA, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MT, NE, ND, OH, OR, TN, TX, VT, WA, WI

South Carolina

May transfer to: CO, DC, IL, IN, IA, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MT, NE, ND, OH, OR, TN, TX, VT, WA, WI

South Dakota

May transfer to: AK, AZ, AR, CO, CT, DC, GA, ID, IL, IN, IA, KY, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MO, MT, NE, NH, NJ, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, TN, TX, UT, VT, VA, WA, WV, WI

Tennessee

May transfer to: AL, AK, AZ, AR, CO, CT, DC, GA, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, SD, TX, UT, VT, VI, VA, WA, WV, WI, WY

Texas

May transfer to: AL, AK, AZ, AR, CO, CT, DC, GA, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, SD, TN, UT, VT, VI, VA, WA, WV, WI, WY

Utah

May transfer to: AL, AK, AZ, AR, CO, CT, DC, GA, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, SD, TN, TX, VT, VI, VA, WA, WI, WY

Vermont

May transfer to: AK, AZ, AR, CO, CT, DC, GA, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NJ, NM, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, WA, WV, WI, WY

Virgin Islands

May transfer to: AK, AR, CO, CT, DC, GA, IL, IN, IA, KY, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MO, MT, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, TN, TX, UT, VA, WA, WI

Virginia

May transfer to: AL, AK, AZ, AR, CO, CT, DC, GA, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VI, WA, WV, WI, WY

Washington

May transfer to: AL, AK, AZ, AR, CO, CT, DC, GA, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VI, VA, WV, WI, WY

West Virginia

May transfer to: AK, AR, CO, CT, DC, IL, IN, IA, KY, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NH, NM, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, SD, TN, TX, VT, VA, WA, WI

Wisconsin

May transfer to: AL, AK, AZ, CO, CT, DC, GA, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VI, VA, WA, WV, WY

Wyoming

May transfer to: AL, AK, AZ, AR, CO, CT, DC, GA, ID, IL, IN, IA, KY, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MO, MT, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, TN, TX, UT, VT, VA, WA, WI

Alternatives to bar reciprocity

Even if there isn't formal reciprocity between two states, there may be other ways you can practice law in other states.

Waiver on motion, or comity

​​Some states allow out-of-state attorneys to transfer to the state’s bar without taking the state’s bar exam, even if there’s no reciprocity agreement in place between the two states. These states typically have a process called “waiver on motion,” “waiver,” or “comity” which allows attorneys who are already licensed to practice law in another state to be admitted to the bar of the new state without taking the bar exam.

To qualify for admission through waiver on motion, an attorney typically must meet certain requirements, such as:

  • Being a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
  • Being admitted to practice law in another state, U.S. territory, or commonwealth.
  • Being in good standing in all states where the attorney is admitted to practice.
  • Having a certain amount of legal experience, typically at least a few years.
  • Meeting the character and fitness requirements for admission to the bar in the new state.

It’s worth noting that the requirements for admission through waiver on motion vary from state to state. Therefore, it’s important to verify the specific requirements in the state where the attorney is seeking admission. Additionally, even if an attorney qualifies for admission through waiver on motion, the attorney may still have to complete other requirements, such as paying fees, completing criminal background checks, and completing a course on the rules of professional conduct in the new state.

In-house counsel registration

In-house counsel registration is another option for attorneys who want to practice law in a different state. In-house counsel registration allows attorneys who work as in-house counsel for a company to practice law on behalf of that company in a state where they are not licensed. 

To qualify for in-house counsel registration, attorneys must typically be employed full-time as in-house counsel for a company and have a certain amount of legal experience.

The uniform bar exam

The Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) is a standardized exam administered in several states. This exam is designed to test the knowledge and skills necessary to practice law. It tests knowledge of general legal principles and subjects that are common to all states, rather than the specific laws of a particular state. 

The UBE is designed to make it easier for attorneys to practice law in multiple states, as they can take the UBE in one state and have their scores transferred to another state that accepts the UBE. The UBE consists of the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE), which is a multiple-choice exam that tests general legal principles, and the Multistate Essay Exam (MEE), which is a written exam that tests the ability to analyze legal issues and write clearly and concisely. The UBE also includes the Multistate Performance Test (MPT), which is a skills test that assesses the ability to complete tasks that are typically performed by lawyers. 

Attorneys who pass the UBE can apply for admission to the bar in any state that recognizes the UBE. Some states also allow attorneys who have passed the bar exam in another state to transfer their exam scores to the new state, as long as they meet certain requirements. Those requirements include a minimum score that varies by state, and may also include specific CLE or state-specific training.

Military spouse exemptions

Military spouse exemptions may also be available for attorneys who want to practice law in a different state. Military spouse exemptions allow attorneys who are married to a military member to practice law in a state where they are not licensed, as long as their spouse is stationed in that state. 

To qualify for a military spouse exemption, attorneys must typically be in good standing with the bar in their home state and have a certain amount of legal experience. Most states require a military spouse to register with the local attorney regulator before they can begin practicing there. 

The Military Spouse J.D. Network (MSJDN) has been instrumental in lobbying and implementing military spouse exemptions state by state.

Exceptions for pro bono work

Finally, many states have exceptions to the unauthorized practice of law (UPL) prohibitions for pro bono work, which is legal work that is provided free of charge to low-income or underserved individuals or organizations. These exceptions typically allow attorneys who are licensed in other states to provide pro bono legal services on a limited basis, without obtaining a license in the state where the services are provided. 

The purpose of these exceptions is to allow attorneys to provide needed legal assistance to underserved populations, while still protecting the public from the risks associated with UPL. You may still have to register with the state’s lawyer regulators even when doing pro bono work. 

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