File an application online to take the exam
Date: October 26, 2021
The Legal Specialist Examination is a one-day test given remotely in October every odd-numbered year. An applicant seeking State Bar legal specialization certification must first take and pass the Legal Specialist Examination before they can apply for initial certification. In order to take the exam, applicants must have been practicing in the desired specialty area since January of the year before the exam in order for them to meet the five-year practice requirement for certification before exam passage results expire.
The Legal Specialist Examination consists of eight short essay questions and 75 multiple-choice questions and tests whether an attorney has a proficient understanding of the key laws, rules and procedures applicable to that area of law. Review the free exam preparation packet for your interested specialty area which contains a full listing of exam subject areas.
Applicants must log into the exam by the posted password release time of 8:00 a.m. for the exam to verify their identification. In the morning, the exam will be administered in three, one-hour sessions (one hour per two essay questions). There will be a 30-minute break between each one-hour question session. Other than scheduled breaks, applicants are not permitted to leave the view of their web camera unless they finish the session early and upload their answers. In the afternoon, there will be one final one-hour session for the last two essay questions, then the multiple-choice questions will be split into two 76-minute and 74-minute sessions, each containing 38 and 37 questions, respectively. There will be a 30-minute break between the sessions. Other than the scheduled break, applicants are not permitted to leave the view of their web camera unless they finish early and upload their answers.
While most applicants will not be allowed to bring reference books into the examination room, those taking the examinations in the following four specialty fields have the option to bring in one of the following code books if they wish to do so (annotated or unannotated version):
Only the publications listed above will be allowed. Applicants cannot use digital versions or home-printed copies of these publications. Publications must be bound, commercial volumes, and completely free from markings, writing, highlighting, underlining, or tabs of any kind.
Note that physical scratch paper is not allowed, but virtual scratch paper will be available for all applicants.
Withdrawal refund policy
Requests to withdraw from the October 2021 Legal Specialist Examination must be received by the State Bar’s Department of Legal Specialization, Office of Admissions on or before the dates listed below in order to qualify for a refund.
Other important deadlines
All applicants must pay the required fees:
The 2021 Legal Specialist Examination fees have been reduced for the 2021 administration only, as follows:
The transfer of fees from one exam to another is prohibited.
Refunds requested due to hospitalization, death, or call to active duty will be considered on a case-by-case basis. The refund form may be requested by contacting Legalspec@calbar.ca.gov. Withdrawal requests can be submitted by logging into the Applicant Portal.
Credit and debit card payments: For credit or debit card payments, a processing fee of 2.5 percent will be added to all charges. If your credit or debit card transaction is denied, you will not be able to submit your application until you provide another Mastercard, Visa, American Express, or Discover card.
ACH (e-check) Payment: You may also make payments by ACH. There are no processing fees associated with ACH payments. You will need your Bank Routing Number and Bank Account Number. It takes seven days for ACH payments to be processed by our bank processor. If within that seven days a payment is returned for insufficient funds or declined for any reason, your application will be considered incomplete until a replacement payment with any service charges are received.
All declined payments will incur a $20 service charge added to any late fees in effect. The application deadline will be enforced if the payment is not received within the published deadlines.
Applicants who change their address after filing the application can make updates by logging into the Applicant Portal to update their profile. If admittance tickets are lost, a duplicate can be requested by contacting the Legal Specialization Unit, Office of Admissions. Deadline to request a change of address: September 15, 2021.
Results from the October 2021 Legal Specialist Examination are scheduled to be released electronically through the Applicant Portal to applicants on March 13, 2022.