petsoundspop wrote:This is probably more info than you wanted, but oh well. The actual application for registering for the exam is extremely simple and took about ten minutes. Beware though, NY does not accept late applications (even with a fee), so be sure to get your app in by the deadline.
Your test center assignment comes later. If you are from out of state (like I was), you will be assigned to Albany. You are assigned to a certain department (1st, 2nd, 3rd, or 4th) depending on where your residence is. Taking it in Albany actually worked out better for me, as it was a less hectic environment than that my friends experienced in Manhattan. I booked a room in the actual hotel I was taking the exam, so got to come up for lunch, etc. On the actual exam day, it took literally five seconds to get from my room to the check-in line. It definitely helped decrease the stress.
I'm in the Second Department and can therefore only comment on my experience with them. The Character and Fitness portion comes after the bar exam, and takes a while. I switched my assigned department after talking the exam (to the 2nd department) since I moved in state. You need to submit legal affidavits signed by EVERY legal employer you've ever had (including before law school, unpaid internships, and law school clinics, i.e. ANYTHING legally-related). The affidavit just provides the date you worked there and asks if there is any reason you wouldn't be fit to practice law. This is a pain in the ass and took months to collect (I started sending them out in August, months before I knew whether I passed).
You also need to submit two "moral character" affidavits. At least in the second department these character affidavits are only good for 60 days. This means that you have to time it out so that you leave enough time for your affiants to fill out the character affidavits, but not so much time that the 60 days passes when it is time to submit your application. I received notification that I passed the NY bar exam the first week of November (for the July '11 administration). I sent in my completed packet that same week. So if you want to plan it out, just be sure to get your "character affidavits" in by the first week of November.
To be honest, the whole process is a pain in the ass (especially gathering and collecting all the affidavits). The 60 day rule makes absolutely no sense to me, considering that your moral character, or lack thereof, seems unlikely to change after 60 days.
After you submit your paperwork, you are required to have an "interview". I had to wait about four months to get an interview date. It lasted two minutes. I've been told that once you've received an interview date, you've been cleared by C+F and therefore it is just a formality. About a month after the interview I got a letter in the mail with my swearing-in date.
Two big pieces of advice for NY: 1) Get your affidavits and paperwork ready such that as SOON as you find you passed (they notify you via-email), you can drop your completed app in the mail that same day and 2) At least for the Second department you are required to take an "Orientation to the Profession Course" before you can be sworn in. The problem is that this information is hard to find out on their website and the slots fill up very, very quickly. Therefore, you don't want to be in a position (like a lot of people out there I know) where you have passed the bar exam, have been cleared by C+F, had your interview, but cannot be sworn in for another four months because you are waiting on a date to attend this program. Register for it right after passing!
All told, it'll be 5 months from the date of passing the exam to getting sworn in (two weeks! yes!). Hope this helps.
Do you think the process is expedited for February bar-passers? Anyone know from experience?