Information About the Bar Application Process

The process includes:

  • applying to sit for the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) and taking the MPRE
  • applying to sit for the Bar Exam and taking the Bar Exam
  • completing your state's character and fitness process

You apply for admission through your state Board of Bar Examiners. Deadlines, forms, and requirements differ from state to state. To get a sense of the structure of the Bar Exam as well as the deadlines and requirements for your state, go to the National Conference of Board Examiners website.

Because the processes vary by state, you will not receive emails from us about upcoming deadlines so it is really important to bookmark this page. You should check your state Bar page often as deadlines and requirements change throughout the year and the state committees are not flexible about waiving requirements.

Each year the Dean of Students Office co-sponsors a number of information sessions on the Bar exam including the application process and the Character & Fitness process.  Speakers generally include representatives from the Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners, Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers, and some of the major Bar Prep Courses.

MPRE

The Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE) is required for admission to the bars of most US jurisdictions. The MPRE is based on the law governing the conduct of lawyers. It consists of 50 multiple-choice questions and takes two hours.

The examination is administered three times per year (March, August, and November)

You can sit for the MPRE before taking your professional responsibility course at HLS.  Most students take a prep course offered by the various Bar Review companies or rely on the free practice material available at the MPRE website.  HLS students generally take this exam in November or March. Please note that HLS is a testing site and seats go fast so sign up early.

BAR EXAM

The Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) a six-hour, two-hundred question multiple-choice examination covering contracts, torts, constitutional law, criminal law, evidence, and real property.

The Multistate Essay Examination (MEE) a three-hour, six-question essay examination covering agency and partnership, commercial paper, conflict of laws, corporations, decedents' estates, family law, federal civil procedure, sales, secured transactions, and trusts and future interests.

The Multistate Performance Test (MPT) three 90-minute skills questions covering legal analysis, fact analysis, problem solving, resolution of ethical dilemmas, organization and management of a lawyering task, and communication.

CHARACTER & FITNESS APPLICATION

In addition to the examinations, each applicant is required to produce evidence that s/he is a person of honest demeanor and good moral character and possesses the requisite fitness to perform the obligations and responsibilities of a practicing attorney at law.

Be prepared to list specifics of every place you have lived since you turned 18, every job you have held (with contacts to confirm employment), every speeding ticket, any disciplinary action in school, any arrest or criminal charge along with full details of the incident.  Please start assembling the documents now because this process can be time consuming.  If you are concerned about having to disclose something from your past, you can see me or you can contact Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers. LCL is a lawyers assistance program funded by bar dues. 

Character & Fitness Applications require a certification from the Dean of the Law School. Those certification forms should be forwarded to the Registrar's Office.

Many states require a set of fingerprints. Harvard University Police will provide fingerprinting services.

ALL BAR FORMS GO TO REGISTRAR'S OFFICE

Additional information is on the Registrar's Office webpage.

NOTARIES

The Dean of Students Office and Registrar's Office have notaries available to notarize bar forms.

BAR REVIEW CLASSES

Reps from various Bar Review Courses will be in the Hark during the school year.  The Law School does not endorse any particular company but we encourage you to speak with recent grads and employers to get recommendations.

REQUESTING DISABILITY-RELATED ACCOMMODATIONS ON THE BAR AND MPRE:

Graduating students who plan on requesting testing accommodations on the Bar Exam should first go to the website of the state where they are taking the exam and familiarize themselves with the application requirements and deadlines. Information about individual state Bar Exam requirements can be found here. Please keep in mind that Harvard Law School’s process of providing accommodations is not necessarily reflective of the process for receiving testing accommodations on the Bar Exam. Each state has its own requirements and due dates to request accommodations. Please contact Accessibility Services at 617-495-1880 or accessibility@law.harvard.edu for additional assistance and information about requesting information on the Bar Exam.

Information about requesting accommodations on the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE) can be found here.

Please note: In order to allow for sufficient processing and notification of accommodation requests, it is highly recommended that accommodation requests be submitted to the respective state’s Board of Bar Examiners or the National Conference of Bar Examiners (for the MPRE) well in advance of the deadline. Please note that some states may require up to 90 days to review accommodations requests.  

Last modified: March 27, 2014

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