The MPRE is just a few days away for many students! Here are five last-minute tips and tricks to pass the MPRE!
In order to get the most out of these tips, lets first look at an MPRE sample question. This sample question comes from the MPRE sample questions released by the National Conference of Bar Examiners.
Sample MPRE Question:
An attorney is a general practitioner with extensive experience in personal injury litigation. The attorney has also handled legal malpractice cases, but does not hold herself out to be experienced in such cases. A man contacted the attorney by telephone and asked her to represent him in a legal malpractice case that he wanted to file against the lawyer who had handled his divorce. The attorney refused even to meet with the man, saying that she was troubled by how high malpractice insurance premiums were getting and was not going to take any new legal malpractice cases. She did not offer to refer the man to other lawyers who took legal malpractice cases. The man tried to contact several other lawyers, each of whom indicated that he or she would be happy to accept the representation but was too busy to take on any new matters. Six months later the statute of limitations expired without the man filing his lawsuit. If the man can establish that a legal malpractice action against the divorce lawyer would have succeeded, is the attorney subject to civil liability for refusing to accept the representation?
(A) Yes, because the attorney did not have good cause to refuse the representation.
(B) Yes, because the attorney did not make reasonable efforts to find a competent lawyer to represent the man.
(C) No, because the attorney does not hold herself out as experienced in legal malpractice cases.
(D) No, because the attorney had no legal obligation to accept the man’s case.
MPRE Tip #1: If you do not know the rules, fall back on common sense.
Would an attorney be subject to civil liability for not accepting a case and not referring the client to other lawyers? As an attorney, do you have an obligation to refer every person whose case you do not take to another lawyer? Especially if you “refuse to even meet with the man”? Probably not. When in doubt, fall back on common sense.
MPRE Tip #2: Think of the answer before you look at the answer choices.
It is a good idea, when possible, to think of the potential answer choice before looking at the answer choices – even if you are not exactly sure what the answer choice is! If you look at the answer choices first, you have a higher chance of being fooled by an incorrect answer!
MPRE Tip #3: Pay attention to the call of the question!!
Many of the questions ask “Is the attorney subject to discipline?” or “Was the attorney’s conduct proper?” However, not all of the questions ask this. In fact, the question above asks, “is the attorney subject to civil liability? Thus, you want to look for an answer that discusses whether he has a legal obligation (rather than an ethical one). Answer choice (D) suggests such a legal obligation and is, in fact, the correct answer.
MPRE Tip #4: Eliminate answer choices that contradict the facts.
Answer choices can be easily eliminated more often than you think! Let’s look at another sample question provided by the NCBE to see how this plays out:
An attorney has experienced several instances in which clients failed to pay their fees in a timely manner when it was too late in the representation to withdraw without prejudicing the clients. To avoid a recurrence of this situation, the attorney has drafted a stipulation of consent to withdraw if fees are not paid according to the fee agreement. She proposes to have all clients sign the stipulation at the outset of the representation. Clients will be provided an opportunity to seek independent legal advice before signing the stipulation. Is it proper for the attorney to use the stipulation to withdraw from representation whenever a client fails to pay fees?
(A) Yes, because a lawyer may withdraw when the financial burden of continuing the representation would be substantially greater than the parties anticipated at the time of the fee agreement.
(B) Yes, because the clients will have consented to the withdrawal in the stipulation.
(C) Yes, because clients will be provided an opportunity to seek independent legal advice before signing the stipulation.
(D) No, because a client’s failure to pay fees when due may be insufficient in itself to justify withdrawal.
Maybe you have no idea what the answer choice is. The good news is that we can automatically eliminate one choice! Look at what the question asks. It asks, “Is it proper for the attorney to use the stipulation to withdraw from representation whenever a client fails to pay fees?” Look at answer choice (A). Answer choice (A) says, “Yes, because a lawyer may withdraw when the financial burden of continuing the representation would be substantially greater than the parties anticipated at the time of the fee agreement.” This contradicts the fact pattern and the call of the question, which indicates that the attorney wants to use the stipulation to withdraw whenever a client fails to pay fees. So you can cross off (A) right away! You’ve just given yourself a higher chance of guessing the right answer. (The answer choice is (D) by the way!)
MPRE Tip #5: Make a “Cheat Sheet” of your outline.
Are you still not feeling great about your commercial outline? Make your own outline! We recommend you make a 1-10 page “cheat sheet” that lays out the broader legal rules, as well as any laws you still feel uncomfortable with. We think this will increase your comfort level with the material dramatically and it will help you see the bigger picture of professional responsibility. It is a good idea to start on this now – just a few days before the exam – as a last minute refresher.
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