ou’re a 2L now, with your first year of law school under your belt. You are gearing up for a full slate of new classes, along with new challenges such as joining a law journal or Moot Court, and looking for that first legal job. Your bar application is probably one of the farthest thoughts from your mind right now…but it shouldn’t be.
One important component of the bar application process in virtually every state is the successful completion of the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam, otherwise known as the MPRE. I know what you’re thinking, because it’s what I thought myself when I learned about the MPRE: You mean I have to take another test before I can get my law license?
The good news is that the MPRE is nowhere near as epic an undertaking as the actual bar exam. Consisting of a mere sixty multiple choice questions, which are drawn from the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct (a copy of which can be found here) and the Code of Judicial Conduct (which can be viewed here), this 125-minute exam is administered by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBEX) and designed "to measure the examinee’s knowledge and understanding of established standards related to a lawyer’s professional conduct."
Most of the material tested on the MPRE you will learn in your law school’s Professional Responsibility course, so you will have a solid foundation for your exam preparation even before you register to take the actual test. The ABA mandates that every law student enrolled in an accredited school take a full Professional Responsibility course as a graduation requirement, so with some careful preparation, you can be sure of receiving a passing score on your first try. (Check here to determine whether your jurisdiction requires the MPRE and what constitutes a passing score for your state.)
It’s never too early to begin to get your bar application in order, but make sure to do your homework. Some states will allow you to sit for the MPRE at almost any point of your law school career, but other states require you to have earned a certain number of credit hours before your MPRE score will be accepted, so make sure to check with your Professional Responsibility professor or state board of bar admissions before you register.
The MPRE is administered three times a year in March, August, and November (register online here). The optimal time to sit for the MPRE is the summer before your 3L year, as you will most likely not be burdened with school work or other time-consuming activities, and you will be able to devote a solid week or so to preparing for the test. The November administration is also a good option, as it does leave you with another bite at the apple should you fall short a few points on your first attempt. Don’t put off the test for too long, however, as you might find yourself in the unenviable position of having to sit for this test a mere week after the bar exam!
Graduation will creep up on you faster than you think, so the sooner you can get this test behind you, the better!