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The Multistate Performance Test (MPT)

The MPT consists of two 90-minute skills questions covering legal analysis, fact analysis, problem solving, resolution of ethical dilemmas, organization and management of a lawyering task, and communication.

The Multistate Performance Test is designed to test an applicant’s ability to use fundamental lawyering skills in a realistic situation. Each test evaluates an applicant’s ability to complete a task which a beginning lawyer should be able to accomplish.

The materials for each MPT include a File and a Library. The File consists of source documents containing all the facts of the case. The specific assignment the applicant is to complete is described in a memorandum from a supervising attorney. The File might also include, for example, transcripts of interviews, depositions, hearings or trials, pleadings, correspondence, client documents, contracts, newspaper articles, medical records, police reports, and lawyer’s notes. Relevant as well as irrelevant facts are included. Facts are sometimes ambiguous, incomplete, or even conflicting. As in practice, a client’s or supervising attorney’s version of events may be incomplete or unreliable. Applicants are expected to recognize when facts are inconsistent or missing and are expected to identify sources of additional facts.

The Library consists of cases, statutes, regulations, and rules, some of which may not be relevant to the assigned lawyering task. The applicant is expected to extract from the Library the legal principles necessary to analyze the problem and perform the task. The MPT is not a test of substantive law, and problems may arise in a variety of fields. Library materials provide sufficient substantive information to complete the task.

The MPT requires applicants to (1) sort detailed factual materials and separate relevant from irrelevant facts; (2) analyze statutory, case, and administrative materials for relevant principles of law; (3) apply the relevant law to the relevant facts in a manner likely to resolve a client’s problem; (4) identify and resolve ethical dilemmas, when present; (5) communicate effectively in writing; (6) complete a lawyering task within time constraints.

These skills will be tested by requiring applicants to perform one of a variety of lawyering tasks. Although it is not feasible to list all possibilities, examples of tasks applicants might be instructed to complete include writing the following: a memorandum to a supervising attorney; a letter to a client; a persuasive memorandum or brief; a statement of facts; a contract provision; a will; a counseling plan; a proposal for settlement or agreement; a discovery plan; a witness examination plan; a closing argument.

Jurisdictions using the MPT.