Commencement and the Bar Exam

Welcome to 3L year!

As you start this victory lap in your academic career, I want to share a few bits of important information about Commencement and the Bar Exam.


The Commencement Link is at

This should give you some basic information as you prepare for the big day.  The pages will be updated as the year progresses.

Things to do now:

1.       read the page so you are familiar with the three ceremonies and the ticketing policies for each
2.       If you haven’t yet made hotel reservations, you should do that as soon as possible.  Since the area is a big traffic jam on Class Day and Commencement Day, we encourage students to encourage guests to take the T and to look for hotels in Cambridge and Boston that are convenient to a T station.
3.       Pass the commencement link along to guests.  It will save you a lot of time.

Once we get back from Spring Break, we will start sending weekly emails to let you know everything you need to do at that time (tickets, regalia, etc).


The Bar Exam link is at:

The process includes:

1.       applying to sit for the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) and taking the MPRE
2.       applying to sit for the Bar Exam and taking the Bar Exam
3.       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:
Most deadlines are in the winter and spring but some states have fall deadlines so check now.

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


On Wednesday, September 21st at noon, the President of the Massachusetts Board of Law Examiners (Geoffrey Bok ’87) and the Executive Director, Marilyn Wellington, will provide insight into the Character & Fitness process from the Board’s perspective.  Since many states ask similar questions, you will find this session to be useful regardless of the state.

Each year the Dean of Students Office co-sponsors a number of other information sessions on the Bar exam including the application process and the Character & Fitness process.  Speakers generally include representatives from Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers and some of the major Bar Prep Courses.  Other sessions will follow in the fall and spring so check the calendar.

These sessions will not be taped.  If you miss the sessions, you can drop by the tables in the Hark when the Bar Review companies are on site.


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


The 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:
November 5, 2011 (deadline to register is September 20)
March 17, 2012
August 10, 2012
Most HLS students sit in November or March

MPRE Links: General info on the MPRE test To Register

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.  HLS is an MPRE test administration site.  Once space is filled, students are directed to other sites in MA.


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.

Bar Exam Links:  The National Conference of Bar Examiners links to each individual state’s bar exam info


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.  When in doubt, disclose.  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.


Where do I send my Dean’s Certification form and my handwriting sample?
Registrar’s Office.

How do I get fingerprints?
Through the Harvard University Police Department

Who can I use as a reference?
You can ask friends (including college roommates and law school friends), former colleagues, family friends, anyone who knows you well.  Unless specified, they need not have worked with you and they need not be an attorney.

If my state requires an attorney as a reference and I don’t know any attorneys well enough to ask, what should I do?
Keep in mind that last year’s 3Ls are this year’s attorneys so you can ask them, you can ask a member of the faculty or staff who is a member of the bar.  I am always happy to serve as an attorney reference if you need one.

What do I do if I can’t figure out how to confirm my previous employment?
If you don’t know anyone who works there anymore – Contact Human Resources.  They can provide the information.
If the organization merged – Contact Human Resources at the successor organization

What do I have to disclose about disciplinary conduct from college or law school?
HLS discloses disciplinary matters that were sent to the Administrative Board.  If you have any questions about this, see me.
You should check with your college to see what their disclosure policies are.
Generally, something that generated a written record or something that carried a sanction of some sort should be reported.

What do I have to disclose about any previous interaction with the criminal system?
The Law School asks about felony and misdemeanor convictions only so you may have to disclose something to the Bar that you didn’t disclose to us (including juvenile criminal conduct and convictions that were expunged).  The questions generally require that you disclose any interaction you have had with the criminal system, regardless of the timing or the outcome.

What do I have to disclose about mental illness or substance abuse?
For the majority of states, you only have to disclose an incapacity due to mental illness or substance abuse.  If you have specific questions, you can contact Lawyers Concerns for Lawyers or see me.

Do parking tickets really matter?
Unpaid tickets must reported.  Pay them.  If you do not remember where you have tickets, contact likely states.  Unpaid parking tickets are generally available through the Department of Motor Vehicles websites.

What about speeding tickets and other moving violations?
Generally, those must be disclosed regardless of whether they are paid.  You can request your history through the DMV or the Secretary of State’s office.  Check states where a violation occurred as well as states where your car was registered.

What if I cannot find the information to answer a question?
Make a good faith effort and document that.  Explain what you did to track down the information and then provide as detailed an answer as you can.

What if I have to disclose something to the Bar that I didn’t disclose to HLS?
The Bar often looks for inconsistencies between your HLS application and your Bar application.
Request a copy of your application from the Registrar.
If you should have disclosed something to Harvard and you didn’t, make an appointment to see me.
If you were not required to disclose it to Harvard, make a note of that in your answer to the Bar.

I’m always happy to meet if you have any additional questions.  Thanks.