Bar Prep Hero is an extremely appealing choice for students fresh out of law school due to their focus on practice exams and essays provided by the NCBE. This does give them a bit of an edge over other courses, but does the rest of the course offer a similar level of quality?
Category: Bar Exam
What is the Bar?
The bar is a representation of the legal profession as a whole. It is named as such because of the physical “bar” that separates participants from spectators in a courtroom.
More specifically, the bar refers to a bar association, which is a professional association for lawyers. Most bar associations are in charge of regulating any members of the legal profession in their district. Hence, membership is typically mandatory for individuals who want to practice law.
Joining the Bar
Joining the bar is not a simple endeavor. If you wish to do so, there are three different steps you must take before you’ll be admitted.
These steps are as follows:
- Apply for and take the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE)
- Apply for and take the Bar Examination
- Pass your chosen state’s fitness and character requirements
- Complete any state specific admission prerequisites
As you can see, it isn’t a simple process. If you’re confused, don’t worry; keep reading to learn more about each step more thoroughly below.
The MPRE is a sixty question exam designed by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE). It takes two hours to complete and is designed to test law students’ knowledge of the legal standards of professional conduct for lawyers. However, it isn’t intended to measure the personal ethics of the test taker.
Due to the importance of its subject matter, the MPRE is required in all but three US jurisdictions. However, some states may also allow proof of completion of a law school course on professional responsibility as a replacement for taking the MPRE.
The NCBE website contains a full list of the jurisdictions that require the MPRE.
The Bar Exam
If you’re looking to become a lawyer, you’ll eventually have to take the bar exam. Each state has their own format for the exam, but typically it takes the form of a two part exam taken over the course of two days.
The entire exam is divided into three distinct portions:
The Multistate Bar Examination
Part one is known as the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) and is written by the NCBE. Every state except for Louisiana uses the MBE and there are no differences in the MBE throughout each jurisdiction. Louisiana doesn’t use the MBE because it uses a civil law system that is very different from law practiced in other states.
But that’s not all there is to know about the MBE:
In terms of content, the MBE consists of two hundred multiple-choice questions designed to test six different subjects based on common law and the Uniform Commercial Code. However, it isn’t divided into six sections; MBE question topics are instead evenly distributed throughout the test.
Thankfully, part one is split up into two sets of three hours blocks to make it less stressful to complete. Hence, if you take the exam, you’ll have three hours in the morning to complete the first hundred questions and three hours in the afternoon to finish the rest.
This part of the exam has the most variation across states but is almost always based on an essay format. Despite that, there is a common version of this portion used in thirty three different states called the Multistate Essay Examination (MEE).
This part of the test does have some points in common with the MBE. Keep reading to learn more:
Similarly to the MBE, essay questions are all created by the NCBE. They do this by hiring outside legal professionals and academic experts to draft them. After questions are created they’re pretested by and analyzed by both a NCBE committee and individual state bars.
Now that you know how questions are created, you should also know how they’re administered.
The MEE is always administered the day before the MBE and is generally paired up with the final portion of the bar exam. When taking the MEE, students are presented with six questions and are asked to answer them in an essay format. Additionally, students are given thirty minutes per question.
Unlike the MBE, written exams are always graded by the state that administers them instead for the NCBE.
To learn which states use the MEE check out the NBCE page on the subject.
Multistate Performance Test
The final component of the bar exam is the Multistate Performance Test (MPT). This component is used to test how well a test taker can use their legal skills to resolve a task expected of a beginning lawyer.
MPT’s are designed by the NBCE and are split into two 90-minute portions. These portions are administered on the same day as the essay portion.
Not every state requires the MPT. To find out which states use this part of the exam, check the MPT page on the NBCE website.
Bar Exam Reciprocity
Some states allow for bar reciprocity, a process that allows you to join their bar without taking an additional set of exams. Requirements for bar reciprocity vary widely from state to state but generally require you to have been a practiced attorney for several years.
Character and Fitness
Once you’ve completed all of the required exams, you’ll be asked by a board of law examiners to prove your good moral character and fitness as an attorney.
Requirements for this vary depending on state. Most states will require a list of every residence since turning 18, as well as every job you’ve held. They’ll also want to know your criminal record (if you have one) as well as any disciplinary actions taken against you in school.
Don’t be afraid if you don’t have a perfect record. As long as you report everything honestly and your record shows you’ve made up for bad behavior, you’ll be fine.
State Specific Requirements
Each state has their own set of specific admission requirements for the bar. These can vary wildly, so make sure to check the NBCE’s bar admission guide to see if you need to meet any additional requirements.
The Bottom Line
It’s a lengthy and difficult process to join the bar, but it can be well worth your time.
Anyone interested in becoming an attorney will have to take the exam at some point, so as long as you know what you’ll be doing ahead of time you’ll be able to prepare for it. Ultimately, becoming a layer is a valuable career choice that can be very rewarding for anyone interested in it.
If you want to join your state’s bar, go for it! If you know what you’re doing, it’s not as hard as it looks.
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