Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination
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|Duties to the court|
|Duties to the profession|
|Sources of law|
|Penalties for misconduct|
The Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) is a 120 minute, 60 question, multiple-choice examination designed to measure the knowledge and understanding of established standards related to a lawyer's professional conduct. It is developed by the National Conference of Bar Examiners and was first administered in 1980.
It is a prerequisite or corequisite to the bar examination for admission as an attorney at law in 48 of the 50 states of the United States, as well as the District of Columbia, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Republic of Palau. Of the 56 jurisdictions within the United States, only Maryland, Puerto Rico, and Wisconsin do not use the MPRE; however, these jurisdictions still incorporate local ethics rules in their respective bar examinations. Connecticut and New Jersey waive the MPRE requirement for bar candidates who have earned a grade of "C" or better in a law school course in professional ethics.
As of the October 2012 administration, the test consists of 60 substantive questions. Only 50 are scored; the other 10 (randomly scattered throughout the exam) are used for experimental purposes. An additional 10 survey questions at the end of the exam are used to evaluate the conditions of the testing center. The raw score is converted to a "scaled score" based on the measured difficulty of the version of the test taken; the scaled score is used to determine passing scores. Scaled scores range between 50 and 150, with a median very close to 100.
The questions are based on the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct and the ABA Model Code of Judicial Conduct, as well as controlling constitutional decisions and generally accepted principles established in leading federal and state cases and in procedural and evidentiary rules (courtesy American Bar Association website and National Conference of Bar Examiners MPRE website). Therefore state rules and laws which may or may not differ from the ABA rules are not tested. California uses the MPRE even though it is the only jurisdiction that has not adopted either of the two sets of professional responsibility rules proposed by the American Bar Association – and California rules differ from the ABA rules in many ways.
The MPRE differs from the remainder of the bar examination in two crucial ways:
- Virtually all states allow bar exam candidates to take the MPRE prior to graduation from law school, as opposed to the bar examination itself which, in the great majority of states, may only be taken after receipt of a J.D. from an ABA-accredited law school.
- A bar exam candidate's MPRE score is accepted in every jurisdiction that requires it, regardless of the jurisdiction where the test was administered, unlike the other components of the bar examination. For instance, states differ on accepting scores on the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) if it was administered in a foreign jurisdiction. States that have adopted the Uniform Bar Examination (UBE), which includes the MBE, generally accept UBE and MBE scores from other UBE jurisdictions, but policies and minimum scores vary between jurisdictions. In non-UBE jurisdictions, policies vary even more widely. Some will not accept an MBE score from any other jurisdiction; some others only accept MBE scores from another jurisdiction if the applicant is concurrently taking the bar exam in two jurisdictions; still others require a minimum MBE score for transfer. Furthermore, no state accepts scores for the Multistate Essay Examination (MEE) and locally written essays administered in foreign jurisdictions, with the exception of UBE jurisdictions that accept scores from other UBE jurisdictions (since the MEE is also part of the UBE).
The passing score varies between jurisdictions. The lowest score accepted by any jurisdiction is 75 (several). The highest required by any state is 86 (Utah and California). The next highest required score is 85, currently required by 19 states and territories (among them Oregon, New York, Arizona, Nevada, Ohio, Texas, and Virginia).
Some states have unique requirements regarding the timing of the MPRE in relation to the bar exam. Three states—Iowa, Kentucky, and Massachusetts—currently require that all candidates for the bar exam achieve a passing MPRE score before sitting for the exam. Iowa requires the passing score to be on file several months before the exam, with a petition process for candidates who pass the March MPRE and the July bar exam in the same year. Other states have a "window" either preceding or surrounding the bar exam outside of which MPRE scores are not recognized.
|Alabama||75||Georgia||75||Maryland||NA||New Jersey||75||South Carolina||77||Wyoming||85|
|Alaska||80||Hawaii||85||Massachusetts||85||New Mexico||80||South Dakota||75||Guam||80|
|Arizona||85||Idaho||85||Michigan||85||New York||85||Tennessee||75||N. Mariana Islands||75|
|California||86||Indiana||80||Mississippi||75||North Dakota||85||Utah||86||Puerto Rico||NA|
|Florida||80||Maine||80||New Hampshire||79||Rhode Island||80||Wisconsin||NA|
- Source: http://www.abanet.org (2005)
- Michigan increased to 85, starting with those individuals taking the July 2009 bar examination: http://courts.michigan.gov/supremecourt/BdofLawExaminers/FAQ.htm
- West Virginia increased a passing score to 80 effective January 1 2013:http://www.courtswv.gov/legal-community/court-rules/Orders/2012/11-20-2012Admission-Prac-of-Law.pdf
- Wyoming increased from 70 to 85, starting with those individuals taking the 2013 MPRE: http://www.wyomingbar.org/pdf/admissions/Frequently_Asked_Admissions_Questions.pdf
- California State Bar: Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination score of 86 effective January 1, 2008
- "Ethics Exam / MPRE". Database of Bar Admission and Reciprocity Rules. BarReciprocity.com. Retrieved 8 December 2011.