Rule 304. Regular admission
(a) Compulsory Examination
An applicant for regular admission to the Virgin Islands Bar must comply
with the requirements of this rule. No one may obtain regular admission to the
Virgin Islands Bar unless and until the Virgin Islands Bar Examinations have
been successfully undertaken as described in this rule.
(b) Committee of Bar Examiners
(1) Composition. The presiding judge shall appoint a special committee to
be known as the Committee of Bar Examiners whose function shall be to assist
the court in the administration of the Virgin Islands Bar Examination, which
includes character investigations and other matters related to admission to the
Virgin Islands Bar. The Bar Examinations shall be conducted semi-annually. The
committee shall consist of not less than five (5) members of the Virgin Islands
Bar in good standing whose appointments shall be for varied terms and who shall
serve until their terms expire, until their successors are appointed, or until
removed by the presiding judge for cause.
(2) Immunity from Suit. The duties of the Committee are inherently
judicial functions which are being performed on behalf of the Court. The Court
accordingly hereby adopts the American Bar Association's (ABA's) Model Immunity
Rule entitled "Civil Immunity of Board of Law Examiners, its members,
employees and agents, and entities providing information regarding an
application to the board", as adopted February 1998, and which provides as
(a) [The Committee of Bar Examiners], and its members, employees, and
agents are immune from all civil liability for conduct and communications
occurring in the performance of their official duties relating to the
examination, character and fitness qualification, and licensing of persons
seeking to be admitted to the practice of law.
(b) Records, statements of opinion and other information regarding an
applicant for admission to the Bar communicated by an entity, including any
person, firm or institution, without malice, to the [Committee of Bar
Examiners], or its members, employees or agents are privileged, and civil suits
predicated thereon may not be instituted.
(c) Application Procedure
(1) Application for regular admission to the Virgin Islands Bar shall be
made in writing to the Territorial Court at least thirty (30) days prior to the
date of the semi-annual Bar Examinations, and shall be accompanied by a fee of
three hundred and fifty dollars ($350.00), which shall not be refunded if the
application is withdrawn, if the applicant loses or fails to submit the character
questionnaire, or if the Bar Examination is not taken as scheduled, except for
good cause shown.
(2) Fifty dollars ($50.00) of said amount shall be retained by the clerk
as a filing fee and the balance of three hundred dollars ($300.00) shall be
administered by the Committee of Bar Examiners to defray the local costs of
examinations, investigations and administration. Applicants shall submit two
(2) checks or money orders -- one for fifty dollars ($50.00) payable to the
clerk of the Territorial Court and the other for three hundred dollars
($300.00) payable to the Committee of Bar Examiners.
(3) In addition to the aforesaid local fees, each applicant must defray
the cost of each non-local examination and investigations, as follows:
Multi-State Bar Examination (MBE) ................... $33.00
Multi-State Professional Responsibility Examination
(MPRE) ................... $35.00
National Conference of Bar Examiners Investigation
(NCBE) ................... $175.00
(Practicing Attorneys $200.00)
These fees may be paid by cashier's check, money order or certified check
as indicated by each examining agency, and are subject to change.
(4) Persons seeking information concerning the Bar examination may, upon
request, be furnished with a packet of relevant materials upon remittance of a
fee of $25.00 payable to the Committee of Bar Examiners.
(5) The clerk shall open a miscellaneous civil file for each
application, assign a case number, and refer the application to the Bar
Admissions Coordinator of the Territorial Court who shall coordinate the
processing of the application with the Committee of Bar Examiners.
(6) No application to the V.I. Bar may be filed by anyone who has been
disbarred, suspended or sanctioned, without reinstatement or exoneration, or
who is under pending disciplinary action by the Bar of any State, District or
Territory of the United States or any foreign jurisdiction, or any Federal
(d) Criteria for Application
Each applicant for regular admission must allege and prove to the
satisfaction of the committee that the applicant is:
1. At least twenty-one years of age;
2. A citizen of the United States or a resident non-United States citizen
who is a legal immigrant, i.e., an immigrant who has lawfully been admitted for
permanent residence in the United States;
3. A person of good moral character who has not been disbarred, suspended
or sanctioned, or who has been reinstated or exonerated, and who is not under
pending disciplinary action, by any State, District, Territorial, Federal, or
4. If previously admitted to the bar of any other jurisdiction, a current
member in good standing of that jurisdiction; and
5. A graduate of an accredited law school approved by the American Bar
(e) Composition of Examination
Each applicant is required to pass the following examinations:
(1) Multi-State Bar Examination (MBE);
(2) Local Law Essay Examination (Essay);
(3) Multi-State Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE); and
(4) Character Examination and Personal Interview.
The MBE and Essay exams shall be held semi-annually in February and July
on St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, and when warranted by the number of applicants,
may be held simultaneously on St. Croix, Virgin Islands. The date of the MBE
exam will coincide with the national date published by the National Conference
of Bar Examiners, and the date of the Essay exam will be the day following the
MBE exam. The MPRE exam shall be held on the dates established by the National
Conference of Bar Examiners which are different from the MBE and Essay exam
dates. The MPRE shall become effective in the Virgin Islands on and after
November, 1994. The Committee shall also examine applicants as to their
character and may conduct such character investigations and personal interviews
as are required. In so doing, the applicants may be required to appear before
it for questioning or furnish it with answers to such questions as are
appropriate. The committee may employ the administrative staff necessary to
satisfactorily perform its work, and coordinate the character examinations with
the National Conference of Bar Examiners.
(f) Scoring of Examination
In order to pass the written bar examinations, each applicant must
receive a minimum combined score of 70% or more on the MBE and Essay portions
of the examination, and a minimum score of 75% on the MPRE. For purposes of the
MBE, a scaled score of 133 is equivalent to 70%. An applicant who has passed
only one of the two portions of the exam, and whose combined score in the MBE
and Essay does not amount to 70%, may take the exam for the failed portion.
However, an applicant who passes one portion may retake that portion
simultaneously with the retaking of the failed portion in order to obtain the benefits,
if any, of combining the MBE and Essay scores. An applicant's scores cannot be
combined unless both the MBE and the Essay portions are taken during the same
scheduled examination period.
MBE and MPRE scores obtained in another United States jurisdiction may be
accepted by the committee, provided that minimum passing score required by the
Virgin Islands Bar has been achieved and certified in writing by the other
jurisdiction, and provided further that the scores certified are no more than
five years old.
(g) Bar Examination Review Procedure
Any applicant who fails the Essay portion of the Bar Examination will be
permitted, on written request made to the committee within twenty (20) days
after date of mailing or issuing results, to review the examination in
accordance with the following procedure:
(1) The review will be made under the supervision of a committee member
(to be assigned by the chairman of the Committee of Bar Examiners) by
appointment at a time mutually convenient to the applicant and such member.
(2) The applicant will be allowed to review the essay-type questions, his
own answers to those questions, and the model answers prepared by the examiner.
The applicant will not be permitted to see the answers of other applicants. The
applicant's own answers will disclose his grade on each essay-type question.
(3) Since the regulations governing the MBE and MPRE Examinations require
all questions and answers to be forwarded for grading to the Educational
Testing Service immediately after the exams, no MBE or MPRE Examination
questions or answers can be made available to the applicant. In lieu thereof,
the applicant will be advised of his scores and other related information
received by the Committee.
(4) Where the applicant sat for both the essay and the MBE sections, the
applicant's average grade on the essay part of the examination and his score on
the MBE part are combined into a single percentage score to determine his
overall passing or failing grade, which will be disclosed to him.
(5) The applicant will be allowed adequate time to make such notes as he
desires from the materials made available to him for review, but he will not be
allowed to remove the questions, his own answers, or the model answers from the
room or be given copies of them.
(6) The single member of the Committees of Bar Examiners supervising the
review will not discuss the examination with the applicant. If the applicant
has any questions, comments or objections about the examination as a result of
his review, he shall submit them in writing within (10) days after review to
the committee chairman, who will refer them to the appropriate examiner(s) for
action. In so doing, the applicant shall not reveal his identity or score but
shall refer only to the applicant's exam number, the grades being challenged
and the reason therefor. An applicant who identifies himself or his score or
the number of points needed to pass shall be disqualified from further review
by the examiner. After a challenge has been analyzed, the examiner shall
thereafter advise the committee chairman whether upgrading is warranted and, if
warranted, the upgraded score. The committee chairman shall thereafter notify
the candidate of the results of the review.
(7) Simple rounding-off of scores is permitted, but no multiple
rounding-off is allowed.
(h) Re-taking Bar Examination
(1) Any applicant who fails to pass the bar examination may be permitted
by the committee to retake the examination but if the applicant fails the exam
three times, he shall not be eligible to take any further examinations without
leave of the presiding judge of the Territorial Court upon a showing that he
has completed a current, accredited bar review course of at least six (6)
weeks' duration. The fee for retaking each portion of the bar examination shall
be two hundred dollars ($200.00), payable to the Committee of Bar Examiners.
(2) An applicant who is not admitted to practice within five (5) years
after passing any or all parts of the bar examination shall be required to
retake the entire examination and must re-apply for admission and for
re-examination, including submitting an updated character report, and paying
the appropriate fees. The result of any bar examination that is more than five
(5) years old shall not be acceptable for current admission.
(i) Admission Procedure
When an applicant has satisfactorily passed the bar examination, and has
met all other requirements of this rule, the Committee of Bar Examiners shall
so certify to the Territorial Court by written motion for the applicant's
admission. The motion shall be reviewed by the Territorial Court and if
satisfactory, the applicant shall be admitted to the Virgin Islands Bar in open
court upon taking the oath (or affirmation) required of applicants for
admission to the Bar of the Supreme Court of the United States. The clerk of
the court shall thereafter issue to the applicant a Certificate of Admission as
a member of the Virgin Islands Bar and shall enter the applicant's name on the
Roll of Attorneys, provided that no such attorney may commence the practice of
law unless and until all appropriate membership dues and licensing fees have
been paid.--Adopted Oct. 14, 1994, eff. Nov. 16, 1994; amended Apr. 15, 1996,
eff. Apr. 15, 1996; Oct. 9, 1996; May 12, 1998, eff Oct. 20, 1998.
Former V.I. Terr. Ct. R. 304(d)(4) did not violate due process or equal
protection because an applicant's good standing with other states was very
relevant to the applicant's ability to practice law properly in the Virgin
Islands, and the requirement did have a rational connection with the
applicant's fitness or capacity to practice law. In re Adornato, 2004 U.S.
Dist. LEXIS 1604, 45 V.I. 448, -- F. Supp. 2d -- (D.C.V.I. Feb. 2, 2004).
Trial court clearly did not abuse its discretion in denying the
applicant's admission to the bar under former V.I. Terr. Ct. R. 304(d)(4) where
(1) the trial court properly relied on the applicant's acknowledgment that the applicant
was not in good standing with the Arizona bar, which was a bar to which the
applicant was previously admitted, (2) the trial court did not apply Rule
304(d)(4) in an arbitrary and capricious manner, and (3) an applicant's good
standing with other states was very relevant to the applicant's ability to
practice law properly in the Virgin Islands. In re Adornato, 2004 U.S. Dist.
LEXIS 1604, 45 V.I. 448, -- F. Supp. 2d -- (D.C.V.I. Feb. 2, 2004).
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