2005 Rules for Admission to the Bar of Montana
Effective March 1, 2005
I. Application Process
II. Commission on Character and Fitness
III. Board of Bar Examiners and Examination Requirements
IV. Pro Hac Vice
V. Records and Confidentiality
VI. Admission Ceremony
An Admissions Packet to become a member of the State Bar of Montana may be obtained by contacting:
State Bar of Montana
Bar Admissions Administrator
P. O. Box 577
Helena, MT 59624
Phone: (406) 447-2204 FAX: (406) 442-7763
An applicant seeking admission to the Bar of Montana shall complete and return the "Application for Admission" and supporting documents and pay a nonrefundable character and fitness fee.
A. Deadlines for Filing Applications
For the July examination, the deadline is March 1. For the February examination, the deadline is October 1. Applications must be postmarked or hand-delivered to the Bar Admissions Administrator on or before the stated deadline. Late applications will not be accepted. If the Montana Supreme Court grants a petition for late application, a late filing fee will be charged in addition to the application fee.
1. A student applicant is an applicant who has never held a license to practice law. At the time of taking the Montana Bar Examination, a student applicant must have a Juris Doctor or equivalent degree from a law school accredited by the American Bar Association at the time of graduation. An LL.M. degree is not considered the equivalent of a Juris Doctor degree.
2. An attorney applicant is an applicant with a Juris Doctor or equivalent degree from a law school accredited by the American Bar Association at the time of graduation, and who is admitted to practice law in another state, district or territory of the United States. An LL.M. degree is not considered the equivalent of a Juris Doctor degree.
3. A resigned applicant is an applicant who was previously a member of the State Bar of Montana but resigned his or her membership. To apply for reinstatement, resigned members must petition the Montana Supreme Court and at a minimum submit to a character and fitness investigation, supply the supporting documentation, and pay the application fee. Certification for admission must be obtained from the Commission on Character and Fitness prior to reinstatement. Unless otherwise ordered by the Supreme Court, resigned members will not be required to sit for any portion of the bar examination.
C. Supporting Documents
An applicant shall submit the supporting documents identified in the Admissions Packet.
A. Composition, Nomination and Appointment
The Commission on Character and Fitness shall be appointed by this Court and shall consist of nine members, six of whom must be licensed Montana attorneys and three of whom must be lay members, nominated by either the State Bar or this Court. The term of office of each member shall be until a successor is appointed.
The Commission on Character and Fitness shall process each application and make a determination of the character and fitness of each applicant pursuant to the Rules of Procedure of the Commission on Character and Fitness, which are included in the Admissions Packet.
A. Composition, Nomination and Appointment
The Board shall be appointed by this Court and shall consist of seven members. The term of office of each member shall be until a successor is appointed.
The Board shall conduct the bar examination, grade the examinations and determine who of the applicants has passed or failed. The Board may administer the Multistate Essay Examination (MEE) and/or the Multistate Performance Test (MPT). The Board may engage the services of active members of the State Bar of Montana to grade the examination.
C. Examination Requirements
Unless waived by the Montana Supreme Court, the following examinations are required:
1. The Multistate Essay Examination (MEE)
A three-hour essay examination consisting of six questions developed by the National Conference of Bar Examiners, but graded using the prevailing principles of federal and Montana law, including common law.
2.The Multistate Performance Test (MPT)
A three-hour examination developed by the National Conference of Bar Examiners consisting of two questions designed to test an applicant’s ability to use fundamental lawyering skills in a realistic situation.
3. The Multistate Bar Examination (MBE)
A six-hour multiple-choice examination developed by the National Conference of Bar Examiners.
4. The Montana Essay Examination (MTEE)
A four-hour essay examination developed under the supervision of the Montana Board of Bar Examiners consisting of four Montana essay questions covering a variety of subjects identified in the Board of Bar Examiners’ Rules. The examination will be graded applying principles of Montana law.
5. The Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE)
The Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination is offered three times a year nationwide. Successfully passing the MPRE is not a condition precedent to taking the Montana Bar Examination. Registration for the MPRE is through the National Conference of Bar Examiners, MPRE Application Dept.,phone number: (319) 341-2500 or visit: www.ncbex.org.
An applicant bears the sole responsibility for having the applicant’s MPRE score certified to the Bar Admissions Administrator. A qualifying score must be certified to the Bar Admissions Administrator no later than nine (9) months after notification of successful completion of the Montana Bar Examination.
D. Transferring Scores Obtained on Earlier Examinations
1. A MBE scaled score from any testing site may be carried forward from three years prior to the date of the Montana Bar Examination. A MBE score must be certified by the official testing authority and received by the Bar Admissions Administrator at least ten days prior to the Montana Bar Examination.
2. To qualify for admission, an applicant must obtain a passing Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination scaled score from any testing site within three years prior to taking the Montana Bar Examination or no later than nine months after notification of successful completion of the Montana Bar Examination.
3. A Montana Essay Examination score may be carried forward to the next semiannual administration of the Montana Bar Examination and combined with MBE, MPT and MEE scores.
4. A Multistate Essay Examination score may not be transferred from another jurisdiction. A Montana MEE score may be carried forward to the next semiannual administration of the Montana Bar Examination.
5. A Multistate Performance Test score may not be transferred from another jurisdiction. A Montana MPT score may be carried forward to the next semiannual administration of the Montana Bar Examination.
The Bar Admissions Administrator shall collect all examination fees except for the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination fee, which is paid directly to the National Conference of Bar Examiners. Examination fees are nonrefundable. Application and examination fees shall be set by the Montana Supreme Court each year. Information on fees for the current year are included in the application packet.
Prior to the examination, the Bar Admissions Administrator shall assign each applicant a number that will uniquely identify the applicant throughout the examination process. The coding for the assigned identification numbers is strictly confidential and, prior to the final decision and report to the Supreme Court by the Board of Bar Examiners, may not be provided to anyone other than the Bar Admissions Administrator and authorized staff.
G. Date of Examinations
A three-day Bar Examination will be administered twice each year, once in July and once in February. The Multistate Bar Examination must be administered on the last Wednesday of the month, preceded by the Montana Essay Examination on Monday and the Multistate Essay Examination and Multistate Performance Test on Tuesday.
H. Notification of Results
1. The Board of Bar Examiners shall file a report of the examination results with the Bar Admissions Administrator. The Bar Admissions Administrator shall notify the applicants of the results by mail.
2. Five days following written notification to the applicants, the Bar Admissions Administrator shall file the report of the Board of Bar Examiners of the results of the examination with the Clerk of the Supreme Court.
3. Upon completion of the entire examination process, including the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination, the Bar Admissions Administrator shall notify the Clerk of the Supreme Court in writing of the names and addresses of the applicants to be admitted.
I. Post-Examination Review
Board of Bar Examiners’ pass/fail decisions are final and not subject to additional substantive review once the report is filed with the Bar Admissions Administrator. Successful applicants may not review their examination results. An unsuccessful applicant may review the applicant’s own MTEE examination results for purposes of preparing for reexamination. Examination reviews must be scheduled within 60 days after the pass/fail report is filed with the Bar Admissions Administrator. Copies of the applicant’s graded MTEE answers and copies of the MTEE questions and guides to grading used in the evaluation of the examination will be available from the Bar Admissions Administrator. Access to the MEE, MPT, and MBE examinations, point sheets and/or analysis are governed by the policies set by the National Conference of Bar Examiners. Multistate Bar Examination test result scores may be released to the applicant or transferred to another jurisdiction by written request of the applicant.
J. Limitation on Examinations
An applicant who has been unsuccessful in three attempts at the Montana Bar Examination must petition and be given permission by the Montana Supreme Court before sitting for the examination again.
K. Reexamination and Deferral
An applicant’s failure to appear for examination without first requesting a deferral in writing will result in the application being dismissed. The applicant must file a new application and pay the application filing fee for any subsequent application.
An applicant who, after filing an application for admission, finds that the applicant is unable to take the examination on the prescribed date or continue with the process in a timely manner may submit to the Bar Admissions Administrator a written request for deferral to the next examination.
An applicant applying for deferral shall pay a fee and file an Addendum to Application, a form available from the Bar Admissions Administrator, no later than October 1 for the following February examination and no later than March 1 for the following July examination. Applicants applying for reexamination shall pay a fee and file the Addendum to Application within 30 days of notification of failing the examination. Applicants applying for reexamination shall be subject to regular examination fees.
If an applicant, after requesting a deferral or failing the examination, fails to file an Addendum to Application in a timely fashion, the application will be dismissed by the Bar Admissions Administrator. Written notice of the dismissal will be provided to the applicant. The applicant must file a new application and pay the application filing fee for any subsequent application.
After three deferrals, an applicant shall submit a new application and pay the application filing fee.
A. Upon written application, an attorney who is not admitted to practice law in the state courts in Montana and who is at the time admitted and authorized to practice law in the highest court of another state may appear pro hac vice in any action or proceeding, if an attorney admitted to practice in the courts of Montana is associated as attorney of record.
B. An attorney may not appear pro hac vice under this section if the attorney is a resident of Montana, is regularly employed in Montana, or is regularly engaged in the practice of law or in substantial business or professional activities in Montana, unless the attorney has an application for admission pending with the Bar Admissions Administrator of the State Bar of Montana.
C. Except upon a showing of good cause, no attorney or firm may appear pro hac vice in more than two actions or proceedings in any state court or administrative agency (agency) in Montana. Upon an attorney or firm’s second appearance pro hac vice, no further pro hac vice appearances are permitted except upon a showing of good cause. Findings of good cause to exceed the two-appearance limit are not to be routinely granted. For purposes of this rule "good cause" includes, by way of example only, a showing that the attorney or firm seeking to appear pro hac vice possesses experience or expertise not commonly available in the membership of the State Bar of Montana or where the attorney or firm is acting as counsel in a multi-state class action. For purposes of this rule, only those appearances made after November 17, 1998, shall be considered.
D. Applications for pro hac vice must be obtained from the State Bar of Montana. The application form will require that the applicant provide the following information:
1. the applicant’s residence and office addresses;
2. the state and federal courts to which the applicant has been admitted to practice and the dates of admission;
3. whether the applicant is a member in good standing in those courts;
4. whether the applicant is currently suspended or disbarred in any court, and if so, a description of the circumstances under which the suspension or disbarment occurred;
5. whether the applicant has been formally notified of any complaints pending before a disciplinary agency in any other jurisdiction and, if so, provide a description of the nature and status of any pending disciplinary complaints;
6. an identification of all law firms with whom the applicant is associated and a description of all pending pro hac vice appearances of the applicant’s firm(s) in Montana;
7. the title of each state court and cause in which the applicant has filed an application to appear as counsel pro hac vice, the date of each application, and whether it was granted;
8. the name, address and telephone number of the active member of the State Bar of Montana who is the attorney of record;
9. an affirmation that the applicant will comply with the applicable statutes, law and procedural rules of the State of Montana; be familiar with and comply with the Montana Rules of Professional Conduct; and submit to the jurisdiction of the Montana courts, the Montana disciplinary process, and the State Bar of Montana with respect to acts and omissions occurring during appearance under this rule; and
10. whether payment has been made to the State Bar of Montana in accordance with the requirements of Section IV-D of these rules.
The completed application, along with a fee of $345 must be filed with the State Bar of Montana (see breakdown of fee under 'Pro Hac Vice Rules.') The application will then be reviewed by the State Bar of Montana which shall certify the number of prior appearances the applicant has been granted under Section IV-C, whether or not the applicant has provided the requisite information, whether or not the applicant is in good standing in the other jurisdiction(s) where admitted, and whether or not Montana counsel is in good standing. Upon certification, the State Bar shall forward the application to the appropriate court or agency. The court or agency shall enter an order granting or refusing the application and, if the applicant is refused, the court or agency shall state its reasons. A copy of the court’s order shall be mailed to the applicant, counsel of record and the State Bar of Montana. The State Bar of Montana shall maintain a record of all pro hac vice applications as a public record. Attorneys appearing pro hac vice shall notify the State Bar of Montana upon conclusion of the matter in which the attorney appeared.
E. An attorney appearing pro hac vice under this section is subject to the jurisdiction of the Montana courts with respect to Montana law governing the conduct of attorneys to the same extent as an attorney admitted to practice in the courts of this state. The attorney shall comply with the Montana Rules of Professional Conduct and is subject to the disciplinary jurisdiction of the Montana Supreme Court. The court or agency in which an attorney is appearing pro hac vice or the Montana Supreme Court may, for violations of Montana law, the Montana Rules of Professional Conduct, Rules for Admission to the Bar of Montana, or orders of the court, withdraw its permission for an attorney to appear pro hac vice.
F. Montana attorneys of record shall sign all pleadings, motions and briefs and participate actively in all phases of the case, including, but not limited to, attendance at depositions and court or agency proceedings, preparation of discovery responses and briefs and all other activities necessary to be prepared to go forward with the case at all times. A district court or agency, upon motion by local counsel, may waive this rule based upon a showing of extraordinary circumstances. Upon waiver of the rule by the district court or agency, all papers subsequently filed shall be signed by counsel actively involved in the case. Such a waiver is not to be routinely granted.
Bar admission application files are confidential and only the Montana Supreme Court, the Bar Admissions Administrator and the Commission on Character and Fitness may have access to information in the files, unless release through written authorization is granted by an applicant and subject to limitations set forth in the Character and Fitness Rules of Procedure.
An application file must be maintained for at least five years after which, if no litigation is pending concerning the application, the file may be destroyed.
Bar examination materials must be retained for two years after which, if no litigation is pending, they must be destroyed.
The Clerk of the Supreme Court shall notify the successful applicants, in writing, of the time, date, and place of the admission ceremony.
An applicant must appear for admission within six months after successfully meeting the requirements for admission to the State Bar of Montana. On motion by the applicant, the Supreme Court may extend the time for appearance.
Each attorney admitted to practice must sign the roll of attorneys kept by the Clerk of the Supreme Court, sign the attorney ethics oath, and recite an oath prescribed by the Supreme Court.
A successful applicant may petition the Supreme Court for permission to take the oath before an authorized judge in another jurisdiction.
Fees collected prior to admission are:
1. State of Montana license tax.
2. State Bar of Montana dues and fees.
A. The Montana Supreme Court is the final authority as to who and under what circumstances an applicant may be admitted to practice law in Montana. The Court may, under circumstances it deems sufficient, waive any requirement under these rules.
B. All commissions, committees, boards, and their members and personnel, including personnel and employees of the State Bar of Montana, acting on behalf of the Supreme Court under these Rules, shall enjoy such judicial immunity as the Supreme Court would have if performing the same functions. Records, statements of opinion and other information regarding an applicant for admission to the bar communicated in good faith and without malice by any entity, including any person, firm or institution, to any commission, committee or board involved in the admissions process, including its members, employees or agents, are privileged and no evidence thereof is admissible in any lawsuit. Waiver, if any, of such privilege by voluntary disclosure shall be determined under Rule 503, Mont.R.Evid.
C. The Executive Director of the State Bar shall appoint a Bar Admissions Administrator, who shall be administratively attached to the State Bar of Montana.
D. The Bar Admissions Administrator, the Dean of the University of Montana School of Law, and the chairs of the Board of Bar Examiners and the Commission on Character and Fitness shall jointly submit an annual report to the Montana Supreme Court on bar admissions and may submit recommendations for rule revisions when necessary.
E. The Montana Supreme Court shall set the fees for the bar admission process, which shall be specified in the admissions packet.
F. The Bar Admissions Administrator shall provide the Rules of Procedure of the Commission on Character and Fitness, and the Board of Bar Examiners' Rules in each admissions packet.
G. The Supreme Court Clerk’s Office may not accept petitions concerning character and fitness, the Montana bar examination, or admission to the State Bar of Montana unless the petitioner includes a certificate of service showing that a copy of the petition has been properly served upon the Bar Admissions Administrator at the State Bar of Montana. Petitions requesting permission to be sworn in before another court are excepted from this rule.