To be admitted to practice in the state of New York, the NY Court of Appeals will require you to comply with its Skills Competency Requirement and Professional Values Bar Admission Requirement.
This requirement applies to all J.D. students who started law school in August 2016 or later. The University at Buffalo School of Law faculty adopted academic requirements to ensure that all students like you graduating from the law school would be able to comply with this requirement.
To meet the requirement that bar applicants establish acquisition of necessary skills and familiarity with professional values necessary to practice law competently, applicants can demonstrate compliance with New York’s Skills Requirement through five different “Pathways.” Please note that these requirements are not specifically required for graduation from the School of Law, although some of UB’s graduation requirements may assist bar applicants in meeting the admission Skills Requirement.
We anticipate that School of Law J.D. students will use one of three Pathways to seek admission. The law school is prepared to provide documentation to the Court of Appeals to assist in the admission process, if you comply with all Pathway requirements.
Pathway 1 can be satisfied if you successfully complete your graduation requirements, including Legal Analysis, Writing and Research courses, an ethics class, and six experiential course credits. You must achieve grades of C or above in the experiential courses. The faculty who teach these law courses have designed learning outcomes and assessment methods that will ensure you emerge with the necessary skills and values training to meet the New York Skills Requirement.
Pathway 2 can be satisfied with fifteen credits of experiential coursework. University at Buffalo School of Law’s experiential courses are presented on a list which is updated every semester and can be found on the Registrar’s website. This pathway allows applicants to include up to six (6) “credits” from paid or unpaid “non-credit bearing summer employment supervised by an attorney in good standing in any state or territory of the United States or the District of Columbia.” Applicable employment “credits” are used solely for the purpose of meeting the Skills Requirement. If you use this Pathway, employment-based credits will not appear on your transcript nor count towards your overall graduation requirements. A maximum of three (3) summer employment credits may be obtained in a single summer. Fifty (50) hours of work constitutes one summer employment credit. Special forms must be submitted by you and your supervising attorney if you elect to use outside employment to satisfy a portion of this pathway, and if coordinated with the Registrar’s office.
Pathway 3 can be satisfied if you are accepted into and complete the School of Law’s Pro Bono Scholars Program during the spring of your last year. UB’s Pro Bono Scholars Program is highly selective and applicants are not guaranteed acceptance.
Two additional Pathways allow applicants to fulfill NY’s Skills Requirement. The requirements for Pathway 4 and Pathway 5, however, can only be fulfilled outside of your law school course of study. For more information on using those Pathways, refer to the Court of Appeal’s website.
The New York Court of Appeals has created a thorough Frequently Asked Questions document designed to answer your questions about the Skills Requirement. If you still have further questions, feel free to reach out to UB’s Vice Dean for Advocacy and Experiential Learning, Professor Kim Diana Connolly.