August 10, 2020 | Indianapolis News
Indiana is one of the couple dozen states that have not adopted the Uniform Bar Examination developed by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE). That does not necessarily mean that the Indiana bar exam is more or less difficult than the UBE.
The bar exam is standard for all applicants in Indiana. How difficult the bar exam depends on the person taking the exam. Several factors may impact the difficulty of the bar exam, such as:
- The person’s education
- How well the person did in law school
- The person’s writing and analytical abilities
- Whether the person has difficulty taking tests
- How much preparation and study time the person devoted to preparing for the bar exam
Each year, some applicants do not pass the bar exam.
For those who took the Indiana bar exam in January 2020, the passage rate for first-time test takers was 62%. Slightly more than a third (36%) of repeat test takers passed the examination.
In many cases, failure may be a lack of preparation for the bar exam. And, that’s something attorneys-to-be can work on.
How Can I Prepare for the Indiana Bar Exam?
Most law-school graduates begin preparing for the bar exam months in advance of the exam. Other students may spend several weeks of intense preparation in which they do not work or socialize. They immerse themselves fully in preparing to take the bar exam.
Most individuals use several study aids when preparing for the bar exam. Practice exams, study courses, study groups, and many other resources are available from various sources. The choice of study aids depends on the person.
In addition to these resources, it can be helpful to talk with someone who has recently taken the Indiana bar exam. Someone who has taken the exam can offer insights into how to prepare for the exam, including potential resources that can be more helpful than other resources.
Most law schools have resources and support for students as they prepare for the bar exam. Talking to advisors and others at the law school can also be very helpful as you prepare for the bar exam in Indiana.
What Is Included in the Indiana Bar Exam?
The Indiana bar exam consists of three sections.
- Multistate Bar Examination
The Multistate Bar Examination or MBE counts for 50 percent of the overall bar exam score. It consists of 200 multiple-choice questions. The NCBE develops the MBE. Indiana administers the MBE the second day of testing.
The questions are divided equally between the morning and afternoon sessions. Questions on the MBE test the examinees’ knowledge in the areas of:
- Civil Procedure
- Constitutional Law
- Real Property
- Criminal Law
The MBE tests knowledge in each area of law.
- Multistate Performance Test
The NCLE also develops the Multistate Performance Test or MPT. Indiana administers the MPT on the first day of the exam during the morning session. This portion of the exam consists of two questions.
The questions on the MPT are designed to test numerous lawyering skills that an examinee needs to represent clients. Some of the skills that are evaluated by the MPT include:
- Factual analysis
- Legal analysis
- Legal reasoning
- Management of legal tasks
- Organization skills
- Recognizing ethical dilemmas
Examinees have three hours to complete both questions. The MPT counts for 20 percent of the overall exam score.
For each question, a File and a Library are provided. The File contains specific information required to complete the task. The Library contains statutes, laws, rules, and other legal information necessary to complete the task.
- Indiana Essay Examination
The essay examination is the component of the Indiana bar exam that is different from the UBE. The essay examination consists of six essay questions. The exam is administered in the afternoon of the first day.
Examinees are given four hours to complete all six essay questions. Currently, the essay exam includes the following topics:
- Wills, trusts, and estates
- Administrative law
- Secured transactions
- Business locations
- Indiana employment law
- Family law
- Residential landlord-tenant law
- Indiana constitutional law
- Pleading and practice
- Indiana Tort Claims
- Statutes of Limitation
- Federal and state tax laws
- Indiana debt collection laws
The essay portion of the bar exam counts for 30 percent of the overall exam score.
Other Requirements for Admission to the Indiana Bar
In addition to taking and passing the Indiana bar exam, applicants must also meet other qualifications to practice law in Indiana.
Other requirements for admission to the Indiana Bar include:
- A law degree from an ABA-approved law school
- Applicants must have completed at least two cumulative semester hours of courses related to legal ethics or professional responsibility
- Taking and passing the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) within two years before or after passing the Indiana bar exam
- The Board of Law Examiners must receive a certified law school transcript and confirmation of the degree earned by the applicant
Once a person is admitted to practice law in Indiana, that person can represent clients in court and outside of court. When searching for an attorney, it can be very beneficial to search for a lawyer who has experience handling matters related to your case.
For instance, if you are under a criminal investigation or you have been charged with a crime, you want an attorney who has significant experience handling criminal matters.
More specifically, look for an attorney who has experience defending individuals against a specific crime, such as sex crimes, drug crimes, federal crimes, DUI, theft, weapons charges, or white-collar crimes.