Bar Exam Information

The dean of students advises third-year students who are taking the bar for the first time as well as returning alums seeking admittance to the Iowa Bar.

The bar exam is the final step in the transition from law student to lawyer. Registration and requirements for bar exams vary by state. Please review the following links for more information.

Requirements and Registration

 

Character and Fitness

Every state bar applicant is required to undergo an extensive evaluation to determine whether the applicant meets the character and fitness requirements to practice law in that state. Each state will have different requirements and processes that will be explained during the registration process for the bar of a student’s particular state of choice. Generally, states will ask applicants about subjects such as: criminal history, academic misconduct, debt, and drug history. In addition to answering these questions, applicants are usually required to provide letters of recommendation from licensed attorneys and, potentially, acquaintances corroborating that the applicant meets the character and fitness requirements. The number of letters and the detail required in the letters varies depending on the state, so an applicant should not wait until the last minute to get these started.

For specific information about the character and fitness requirements for a jurisdiction, please go to http://www.ncbex.org/character-and-fitness/.

Fingerprinting and Notarizing

Every state bar application will have at least one section that will require notarization. The University of Iowa College of Law has multiple notaries on campus who are happy to help you accomplish this, including: Mishelle Eckland and Dawn Malloy (located at the reception desk of the Clinic on the 3rd floor), Rene Schilling-Arps and Deb Paul (located in the Dean’s Suite).

In addition to notarization, some jurisdictions, including Iowa, require fingerprints along with your bar application. An applicant can get fingerprints done at The University of Iowa Department of Public Safety (http://police.uiowa.edu/). Their hours are: Monday – Friday, 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM. They strongly encourage people to call ahead (319-335-5022), as they cannot anticipate changes in staffing due to sickness, vacation or re-assignment. They do not provide fingerprinting services on weekends or University holidays. Fingerprinting is $10 for University of Iowa faculty, staff, and students at The University of Iowa Public Safety.

The Johnson County Sheriff's Office provides fingerprinting services every Tuesday between the hours of 9:00 AM-4:00 PM for a fee of $20.  The North Liberty Police Department also provides fingerprinting services by appointment only between the hours of 9:00 AM-11:00 AM on Mondays and Wednesdays and 2:30 PM-4:00 PM on Thursdays.  Contact both of those agencies directly for more information.

Paying for Bar Review Courses

While some employers pay for bar review courses and materials and some bar review organizations offer a discounted rate for students who register in their first year, students must plan for these expenses. Bar loans are intended to be used for expenses related to completing the bar exam.The cost of sitting for the Bar, living expenses and the cost of a bar review course. Eligibility and interest rates are determined by your credit record. For current bar exam loan lender please go to www.finaid.org/loans/privateloan.phtml.  To compare interest rates and fees go to www.finaid.org/calculators/loananalyzer.phtml.

Allow at least five weeks (more if you will need a co-signer) form the date of application to receipt of funds. Bar exam loans are disbursed directly to the student, not through the university. If you have questions, contact the Financial Aid Office at 319-335-9142 or by e-mail at law-financialaid@uiowa.edu.

Bar Review Preparation

A number of bar prep courses are available to students. Students are encouraged to compare rates and to identify a plan that will best fit their needs to prepare for the exam.

The Patent Bar

  • Students wishing to practice before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office must take the patent bar exam. This exam can be taken while you are in law school and consists of a one-day, multiple-choice test.
  • Visit the USPTO's web site and join the Intellectual Property Law Society (IPLS) student group for more information.

The Multistate Tests

In addition to the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination the NCBE provides the following tests used in many US jurisdictions:

  • The Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) is a six-hour, 200 question multiple-choice examination covering contracts, torts, constitutional law, criminal law, evidence, and real property. The MBE is used by most U.S. jurisdictions, including every state except Louisiana and Washington. .
  • The Multistate Essay Examination (MEE) is 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) consists of 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.

Make sure to check out other resources the NCBE offers such as bar admission statistics, study aids (some available online for free), and more.

Previous Bar Exams

Previous multistate tests are available on reserve in the Law Library. State-specific exam material, when available, can be found through the NCBE state-specific site. (Find the state you need and then look at its web site for details.) Additional preparatory books can be found through InfoHawk or by visiting the Law Library and asking a reference librarian for assistance.