Hawaii Admission Laws

Hawaii Supreme Court is responsible for the process of admission of attorneys in to the Hawaii Bar.  The Board of Examiners (Board) appointed by the Hawaii Supreme Court administer the process of admission to the state Bar.  As prescribed under Rule 1.3 of the Hawaii Rules of the Supreme Court, to be eligible for the Bar examination and admission to the bar, each applicant should be a graduate from an American Bar Association accredited law school with a J.D. or L.L.B. degree.  An attorney applicant who is not a graduate of an accredited law school must have been engaged in practice of law before the highest court of another jurisdiction in the United States for five of the six years immediately preceding his or her application.
A graduate degree of L.L.M., M.C.L., or S.J.D. is not a satisfactory substitute for the J.D. or L.L.B. degree.  Service as a judge of a court of record shall be considered equivalent to the active practice of law within the meaning of this rule.  A full-time member of the University of Hawaii Law School faculty who has graduated from an accredited law school and who has been admitted to practice in the highest court of another jurisdiction in the United States will be admitted to the Bar for a period of three years, upon application, without taking the Bar examination.

An applicant shall be admitted to practice only after s/he passes the Hawaii Bar Examination administered by the Board.  The exam is administered over two days.  It consists of seven Multistate Essay Exam questions, a section on the Hawaii Rules of Professional Conduct and Multistate Performance Test questions.  On day 2, the Multistate Bar Examination is administered.

In addition to the Bar exam, each applicant must also take and pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE).  A scaled score of 85 is required and the MPRE must be taken within two years before or one year after the exam.

Beginning January 1, 2010 an active member of the Hawaii Bar is required to complete three (3) credit hours of approved Mandatory Continuing Professional Education (MCPE) each calendar year.  In addition to the mandatory three (3) credit hours of MCPE, all members are encouraged, but not required, to complete 9 or more credit hours per year of approved Voluntary Continuing Legal Education (VCLE).

HRSC Rule 1.1

Authority of Hawaii Supreme Court.
The Hawaii Supreme Court (Supreme Court) shall appoint a Board of Examiners (Board) to administer the process of admission to the bar of the state. Nothing in this rule, however, shall be construed to alter or limit the ultimate authority of the Supreme Court to oversee and control the privilege of the practice of law in this state.

HRSC Rule 1.3

(b) Legal Education or Experience Requirements.
(1) Unless otherwise provided by this rule, to be eligible for examination and admission to the bar, each applicant shall have graduated from a law school accredited by the Council of the American Bar Association on Legal Education and Admission to the Bar (accredited law school) with a J.D. or L.L.B. degree. The applicant shall have his or her first professional legal degree (J.D. or L.L.B.) from an accredited law school to satisfy the legal education requirement. A graduate degree in law (L.L.M., M.C.L., S.J.D.) is not a satisfactory substitute for the J.D. or L.L.B. degree.
(2) An attorney who is not a graduate of an accredited law school but who is admitted to practice before the highest court of another state, a territory, or the District of Columbia, shall be eligible for examination and admission, provided that he or she has actively practiced law in such state, territory or the District of Columbia for five of the six years immediately preceding his or her application.
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(4) Service as a judge of a court of record shall be considered equivalent to the active practice of law within the meaning of this rule.

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(g) Examinations.
(1) Unless otherwise provided by this rule, an applicant shall be admitted to practice only after he or she has passed examinations that satisfy the Supreme Court that the applicant has the necessary legal and educational qualifications to practice law in this jurisdiction.

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(6) In addition to the Hawaii Bar Examination administered by the Board, each applicant for examination and admission must also take and pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE). The MPRE must be taken and passed not earlier than two years before the Hawai’i Bar Examination and the MPRE score must be officially reported to the Board not later than one year after date of notification of passing the Hawai’i Bar Examination.

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HRSC Rule 1.8

Law school faculty members; Pro tem membership.
(a) A full-time member of the University of Hawai’i Law School (Law School) faculty who has graduated from an accredited law school and who has been admitted to practice in the highest court of another state or territory of the United States or the District of Columbia may apply for admission and be admitted to the bar without examination. In all other respects his or her application shall be made, adjudged and conditioned pursuant to Rules 1.3(a), (c), (d), (e), 1.4, 1.5 and 1.9, RSCH, provided that if admission is granted without examination, the term of admission shall be limited to a period of three (3) years during which the individual shall have all rights and obligations of a full member of the bar and shall be a pro tem member.
(b) At the end of such pro tem membership, the Dean of the Law School may, upon motion and affidavit, certify that the individual has continued as a full-time member of the Law School faculty during the period of pro tem membership and has complied with all other applicable rules governing the practice of law. The Board may grant such individual admission to the bar without limitation of time unless found to have become disqualified pursuant to Rule 2, RSCH.


Inside Hawaii Admission Laws