State By State Requirements to Become a Lawyer

New Hampshire State Law Information

Job opportunities for lawyers in New Hampshire are expected to grow by 5.4 percent from 2010 through 2020, according to the New Hampshire Employment Security Economic & Labor Market Information Bureau. For the size of the state, this projection is considered to be quite a favorable indication of the health of the lawyer profession in New Hampshire. Currently in the state, lawyers enjoy a mean annual salary of $106,430. Lawyers practicing in the Manchester area make the highest average salaries, at $138,140 annually, while those in the Lowell-Billerica-Chelmsford, MA-NH metropolitan area make a higher than average salary of $110,790 yearly. If you would like to learn how to become a lawyer licensed to practice in New Hampshire, read on.
 

Step 1

Get Your New Hampshire Undergrad Pre-Law Major

The New Hampshire Supreme Court Office of Bar Admissions requires that you complete at least three years of college credits towards a bachelor’s degree, or obtain the bachelor’s degree, before attending law school and sitting for the New Hampshire bar exam. Because the American Bar Association (ABA) requires that all admittees to their approved law schools need a bachelor’s degree, however, it makes sense to go the full four years and obtain your bachelor’s degree prior to applying to law school.

College Accreditation

Most law schools, whether or not they are ABA-approved, require that your undergraduate degree comes from a college or university accredited by a regional or national accreditation agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

Requirements and Standards

Coursework that you must take in undergraduate school is not specified by the New Hampshire Supreme Court Office or Bar Admissions, or by the ABA. It is highly suggested that you take courses that challenge and interest you, and that help to develop your skills in reading comprehension, critical thinking and analysis, logical reasoning, writing and oral communication, as these skills will be vital to your success in law school.

Pre Law Degree Options

While the only requirement for admission to an ABA-approved law school is that you obtain a bachelor’s degree (regardless of major), some undergraduate majors are more beneficial to you in law school than others are. These include philosophy, political science, history, English, communications, business, and economics.


  
  

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Step 2

LSAT (Law School Admission Test) in New Hampshire

You have your bachelor’s degree in hand. Now it is time to take the LSAT (Law School Admission Test).

How to prepare

You will find many free, helpful study resources at the LSAT website to help you prepare to take this monumentally important standardized test. If you wish further preparation help in New Hampshire, consult these resources:  
LSAT Exam Prep Courses in New Hampshire:

Exam content

The LSAT is designed to assess your skills of verbal reasoning and reading. Sections in the LSAT include logical reasoning, reading comprehension, and analytical reasoning.  You must also create a writing sample (which is not graded as part of your overall LSAT score, but is sent to the law schools to which you apply to give them an idea of your written communication abilities). There are about 100 multiple -choice questions taking 175 minutes to complete, and you are given a half-hour to complete the writing section.  Keep in mind that your LSAT score is weighted more heavily than your undergraduate GPA by law schools to which you are applying.

Application process

LSAT applications and $160 payment are accepted online at the Law School Admission Council website, where you will create your own LSAC account that you will need now and in the future. Your LSAC account is valid for five years once opened. The LSAT is given in October, December, February and June, on Saturdays and Wednesdays, at the following New Hampshire examination centers:

  • University of New Hampshire, 105 Main Street, Durham, NH 03824-3547
  • Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH 03755-3529
  • Plymouth State University, 17 High Street, Plymouth, NH 03264-1595

Receiving Your Score

About three weeks after you take the test, you will find out via mail if you have passed or failed. The score scale for the LSAT is 120 (lowest score possible) to 180 (highest score you can get). The only ABA-approved law school in New Hampshire is the University of New Hampshire School of Law, and the average LSAT score it accepts from new enrollees is 153.

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Step 3

Complete Law School in New Hampshire

College Application process

Applying to the ABA-approved law schools of your choice is the next step in your quest to become a New Hampshire lawyer.  The Supreme Court of New Hampshire’s Bar Admissions Committee has ruled that you must be a graduate of an ABA-approved law school located within the United States (not necessarily within New Hampshire).The only exceptions are if you are a licensed lawyer in Massachusetts who has graduated from one of two non-ABA-approved law schools (see below). A complete listing of the 200 ABA-approved law schools across the country may be found in the ABA-LSAC Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools.

Credential Assembly Service

All applicants to ABA-approved la w schools must use the Law School Admission Council’s online form, the Credential Assembly Service (CAS), when applying for enrollment. Register with the LSAC and pay a $155 fee. The CAS helps to streamline the application process by offering a standardized process to collect your personal information, transcripts, recommendation letters and evaluations, and cover letters for various law schools to which you wish to apply. The CAS will apply electronically for you to the law schools you choose as well.  

Accreditation

The New Hampshire Supreme Court’s Bar Admissions Committee requires that you obtain a Juris Doctor (JD) degree from an ABA-approved law school prior to sitting for the state’s bar exam. The only exceptions are if you have already been admitted to the bar in Massachusetts and are a graduate of one of the following non-ABA-approved law schools:

ABA-Accredited Law Schools in New Hampshire

Just one law school in New Hampshire holds ABA accreditation:

Course requirements

The following subjects should be studied in law school, as they will be tested on the New Hampshire bar exam:

  • Business Associations (Agency and Partnership; Corporations and Limited Liability Companies)
  • Conflict of Laws
  • Constitutional Law
  • Contracts
  • Criminal Law and Procedure
  • Evidence
  • Family Law
  • Federal Civil Procedure
  • Real Property
  • Torts
  • Trusts and Estates (Decedents’ Estates; Trusts and Future Interests
  • Uniform Commercial Code (Commercial Paper (Negotiable Instruments); Secured Transactions)

Online Law Degrees

Internship

Your law school may require that you participate in some sort of internship, externship, clinic or other practical experience situation during your law school years. Clinics allow you to apply your knowledge of the law to real-life legal cases. Internships and externships take this one step further, giving you an opportunity to work in a specialized area of the law that interests you. On-site supervisors and faculty from your law school will assess your performance in any of these practical situations.

J.D. Degree Programs

You must have a JD degree in order to sit for the New Hampshire bar exam. Law schools may offer other degrees, such as dual degrees (a JD combined with another major), certifications or concentrations. Dual degrees for JD students offered at the University of New Hampshire include:

  • JD/MBA

Concentrations offered at the University of New Hampshire for JD students include:

  • Business
  • Commerce and technology
  • Criminal practice
  • Intellectual property
  • International criminal law and justice
  • Social justice institute

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Step 4

Take the New Hampshire State Bar Exam

You are now ready to apply to take the New Hampshire Bar Exam. Please note, if you attempt and fail the bar exam four or more times, you will not be allowed to retake it.

Residency Requirement

New Hampshire requires all applicants to the bar to be domiciled in the United States.

Non-ABA approved law school graduates

Only graduates of two non-ABA-approved law schools in Massachusetts may sit for the bar exam IF they have already been admitted to the Massachusetts bar. All others who apply to take the bar exam must be graduates of ABA-approved law schools. See Step 3 above for more information.

Graduates of Foreign Law Schools

If you are a graduate of a law school outside of the United States, you must meet requirements for reciprocal admission for lawyers who are licensed in other states in order to be eligible for admission to the New Hampshire bar without examination.
If you wish to sit for the New Hampshire bar exam and are a foreign law school graduate, you must be legally trained in common law. Furthermore, you must have the Committee perform a determination of your educational equivalency, be a bar member in good standing in your home jurisdiction, and either have additional education at an ABA-approved law school or be admitted to the bar of another US jurisdiction.

Preparation

You can find free and helpful study information at the National Conference of Bar Examiners website. Study the sections on theMultistate Essay Exam (MEE), Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) and the Multistate Performance Test (MPT). Other information to help you prepare to take New Hampshire’s bar exam includes:

Exam content

The New Hampshire Bar Exam takes two days to complete. You will take the MPT on the morning of the first day, and the six MEE questions in the afternoon. The second day will consist of the MBE in the morning and afternoon. Subjects that will be tested are listed in Step 3’s “Course Requirements” section above.

American College Testing will grade the MBE part of the test with the results returned to the New Hampshire Board of Bar Examiners.

The MPT portion of the test will be graded by the New Hampshire Board of Bar Examiners, with each answer assigned a raw score on a scale of 12.

The New Hampshire Board of Bar Examiners will also grade the MEE. Each of the six questions are weighted equally and assigned a raw score on a scale of 1 to 6.

Each answer on the MPT and MEE is judged individually, and no grading curve is used. Your raw MPT and MEE scores will be combined to produce a raw score with a maximum of 60. The combined raw MPT and MEE score will then be scaled to the MBE score to produce a scaled score on a scale of 200. A total score of 270 or more on a scale of 400 will constitute a passing score on the New Hampshire Bar Exam.

Application Process

You may apply to take the New Hampshire bar exam online. Applications will be posted about six months or so before the bar exam is scheduled to occur. Use this checklist to ensure that you have obtained all necessary information before filing your application:

  • Sign the Application to Take New Hampshire Bar Exam in front of a Notary Public
  • Include the completed Petition and Questionnaire for Admission to the Bar of New Hampshire
  • Sign Page 9 of the Petition in the presence of a Notary Public
  • Sign Page 11 of the Petition, the Authorization and Release, before a Notary Public
  • Provide signatures and printed names of two certifiers on Page 10 of the Petition along with their contact information
  • Have your MPRE scores sent to New Hampshire (if already took the MPRE – see below for more information)
  • Include an original and one copy of :
    • Your application
    • Petition and Questionnaire
    • All Attachments
  • Include a check for $275 payable to the State of New Hampshire
  • Include a check for $275 payable to the Character and Fitness Committee of the New Hampshire Supreme Court
  • Attach to your petition:
    • Two copies of your undergraduate diploma, or an original and one copy of a certificate of graduation signed by the registrar
    • Two copies of your law school diploma, or an original and one copy of a certificate of graduation signed by the registrar
    • A passport-sized photograph of yourself
  • If you have a name change, attach one original certified copy and one photocopy of an order of this (or other evidence)
  • Attach two copies of military discharge if applicable
  • Attach two copies of a certificate of admission to any other jurisdiction’s bar (if applicable)
  • Attach one original and one copy of a certificate of the Clerk of Court of jurisdiction over that bar attesting that you are a member in good standing

Mail all application materials to Sherry M. Hieber, Esquire, Bar Admissions Administrator, N.H. Supreme Court Office of Bar Admissions, 4 Chenell Drive, Suite 102, Concord, N.H. 03301.

Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE)

In addition to passing the New Hampshire Bar Exam, you must successfully pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE), administered by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE), with a scaled score of 79. If you are currently in law school, request information from your dean or placement office about where and when to take the test. If you are not currently enrolled in law school, you may apply online to take the MPRE at the following New Hampshire location:

  • Plymouth State University, Plymouth, NH

Have you already passed the MPRE in another jurisdiction with a scaled score of at least 79, you may have your score sent to the New Hampshire Board of Bar Examiners.

Admission on Motion

If you have already been admitted to the bar in another US jurisdiction, you may be eligible to apply for admission to the New Hampshire bar without examination. You must meet one of the following requirements:

  • Have already taken and passed the bar examination in another US jurisdiction that allows admission without examination of New Hampshire bar members,

    OR

  • Have been primarily engaged in the practice of law in a US jurisdiction for five of the past seven years, as long as that jurisdiction allows admission without examination of New Hampshire bar members  (reciprocity with New Hampshire)

Currently, the only states that DO NOT have reciprocity with New Hampshire are: CA, DE, FL, HI, LA, MD, MT, NV, NJ, NM, OR, RI, SC, VT, WV
If you are already a lawyer practicing in Maine, the following rules apply- you must:

  • Be licensed to practice law in Maine and an active member of the Maine bar
  • Have been actively practicing law in Maine at least the past three years
  • Have graduated from:
    • An ABA-approved law school with at least a three-year course of study, OR
    • A law school in an English-speaking, common law country substantially equivalent to an ABA-approved law school
  • Pass the MPRE with a scaled score of at least 79 before filing the application for Admission on Motion
  • Be a member in good standing in all jurisdictions in which you are admitted
  • Not be subject to any lawyer discipline
  • Have good character and fitness
  • Completed at least 15 hours of continuing legal education on New Hampshire practice and procedure in courses approved by the NHMCLE Board within the year immediately preceding the date that you filed your application for Admission on Motion

If you are already a lawyer practicing in Vermont, the following rules apply – you must:

  • Be licensed to practice law in Vermont and an active member of the Vermont bar
  • Have been primarily engaged in the active practice of law in Vermont for at least three years before filing your application for Admission on Motion
  • Passed the MPRE with a scaled score of at least 79 before filing your application for Admission on Motion
  • Be a member in good standing in all jurisdictions in which you are admitted to the bar
  • Not be subject to any lawyer discipline
  • Have good character and fitness
  • Completed at least 15 hours of continuing legal education on New Hampshire practice and procedure in courses approved by the NHMCLE Board within the year immediately preceding the date that you filed your application for Admission on Motion

For more information on Admission on Motion, contact Sherry M. Hieber, Esq., Bar Admissions Administrator, at shieber@nhoba.org or (603) 224-8806.

Pass Rates

It will take approximately 10 weeks after the bar exam to receive your scores via mail. The Clerk of the Supreme Court will give the Chair of the Board of Bar Examiners names of applicants and their assigned examination numbers. The Chair of the Board of Bar Examiners will notify applicants of their passing status. If you pass, you will only be told that you passed and not told your actual score or ranking. If you did not pass, you will be given a breakdown of your scores by mail about a month after the results are announced.

Passing rates for past New Hampshire Bar Exams are as follows:

  • 2011: 78 percent of all test-takers passed the bar exam
  • 2010: 80%
  • 2009: 84%
  • 2008: 88%
  • 2007: 77%
  • 2006: 77%
  • 2005: 54%
  • 2004: 56%
  • 2003: 60%
  • 2002: 60%

Licensing and Admission to the Bar

If you pass the bar exam, you will be notified of the time and place of your bar admission ceremony.

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Step 5

You’ve Been Admitted to the New Hampshire Bar

Congratulations on passing the New Hampshire bar exam and becoming a licensed member of the state bar! The New Hampshire Bar Association (NHBA) can assist you greatly as you are starting out in your new career as a lawyer in the state. You must complete a practical skills course given by the NH State Bar within your first two years of practice. The NHBA also offers a variety of programs and services for members, including New Lawyer Programs, law practice management tools, discounts and benefits.

Your career opportunities as a lawyer in New Hampshire are vast. You may opt to begin your own private practice. You may prefer to join an already established law firm, such as multi-practice firm Gallagher, Callahan & Gartrell in Concord; the McLane Law Firm multi-practice group in Concord, Manchester and Portsmouth; multi-practice specialists Shaheen & Gordon in Nashua; and corporate lawyers Rath, Young and Pignatelli in Concord and Nashua.

Although New Hampshire is not home to any Fortune 500 companies, opportunities for lawyers may exist in the number of corporations that call the state home. Some of the state’s largest employers include Bottomline Technologies in Portsmouth; eCopy in Nashua; Fisher Scientific International, Inc. in Hampton; Fidelity Investments in Merrimack; and NSS Corporation in Bedford.

Legal Specialty Certification

Do you wish to specialize in a certain area of legal practice? You may want to seek certification through one of the organizations recognized in New Hampshire. The American Board of Certification (ABC) certifies lawyers who want to practice in consumer and business bankruptcy and creditors’ rights. The certification process includes an examination. Contact ABC at (319) 365-2222 or director@abcworld.org for further information.

 To practice in civil pretrial advocacy, social security disability advocacy, family trial law, criminal trial law, or civil trial law, the National Board of Legal Specialty Certification (NBLSC) is the recognized provider. Examinations are also required here. Get in touch with New Hampshire’s NBLSC coordinator, Richard E. Fradette, at (603)623-1234 or rick@beliveau-fradette.com.

Requirements for maintaining license

As a licensed New Hampshire lawyer, you must complete 12 hours per year of Continuing Legal Education (CLE). This must include two hours of ethics. For more information, contact the NHBA’s NHMCLE (New Hampshire Minimum Continuing Legal Education) Department.

Court Systems in New Hampshire

New Hampshire’s Courts are structured like this:

  • Supreme Court: New Hampshire’s highest court in the land, the Supreme Court hears appeals from Superior, District and Probate Courts; the Family Division and from administrative agencies. It also issues advisory opinions for the state executive and legislative branches, and hears certified questions from the federal courts. It is located at One Charles Doe Drive, Concord, NH 03301.
  • Superior Court: These courts hear civil lawsuits of at least $1,500; felonies; divorce, custody, parental rights and other related issues in locations without a Family Division. It also holds jury trials, and hears equity cases for non-monetary relief. Eleven Superior Courts exist throughout New Hampshire:
    • Belknap Superior Court
    • Carroll Superior Court
    • Cheshire Superior Court
    • Coos Superior Court
    • Grafton Superior Court
    • Hillsborough Superior Court North
    • Hillsborough Superior Court South
    • Merrimack Superior Court
    • Rockingham Superior Court
    • Strafford Superior Court
    • Sullivan Superior Court
  • Circuit Courts: Circuit Courts include District, Probate and Family Divisions and handle 90 percent of all cases filed in New Hampshire’s court system. There are 10 circuit courts, one in each county (see above).
    • District Court: These courts hear cases of small claims up to $5,000; landlord/tenant cases; juvenile delinquency and domestic violence (in locations without Family Division courts), misdemeanors; violation-level criminal matters; civil cases under $25,000, preliminary hearings in felony cases; issues search and arrest warrants, and rules on traffic violations. There are 32 District divisions in New Hampshire.
    • Probate Court: These courts handle wills, estates and trusts; adoptions and guardianships; involuntary commitments; real estate partitions; and name changes. Each county has one probate division
  • Family Division: In locations in which these courts exist, they handle cases of divorce and child support; juvenile delinquencies; domestic violence; guardianship of minors; termination of parental rights; abuse and neglect cases; some adoptions and cases involving children in need of services (CHINS). Family Divisions have 26 locations in nine counties in New Hampshire.

Elective membership organizations

Think about becoming a member of one of these professional lawyer organizations that may be beneficial to your career in New Hampshire:

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New Hampshire Resources

General Resources

Law Exams

Lawyer Career Specialties

  New Hampshire:
 
NH Active Lawyers 3,396
Average Annual Wage $106,430
  

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