Nebraska Bar Exam

Written by: Nik Ventouris

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Nebraska Bar Exam

Passing the Nebraska bar exam is an essential part of being admitted into the state’s bar and beginning a successful career practicing law.

In this guide, we’ll break down everything you need to get started, including:

  • The bar exam’s eligibility criteria, content, and structure;
  • The steps you can take in order to give yourself the best chance of passing on your first attempt; and
  • The additional requirements you’ll need to satisfy in order to become admitted into the state’s bar

We’ll also briefly look at the process of getting admitted on motion for out-of-state attorneys.

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Nebraska Bar Exam Overview

The Nebraska State Bar Commission, which operates under the authority of the Nebraska Supreme Court, administers the bar exam in Nebraska. The Commission also assesses applicants’ qualifications, evaluates their character and fitness, and verifies their eligibility before recommending individuals for admission.

If you’re considering taking the exam, it’s important to know it occurs twice a year, in February and July. Registration opens on September 1 for the February exam and January 2 for the July exam. To avoid a late fee, you must file your application by November 1 for the February exam or by March 1 for the July exam.

The application fee for first-time exam takers is $515, which increases to $665 for individuals who miss the regular registration deadline.

In order to be eligible for the Nebraska bar exam, you must satisfy the following criteria per Nebraska Revised Statute 7-102:

  • Graduate from an ABA-Approved Law School: Applicants must have earned a Juris Doctor (JD) degree from an institution accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA). You may apply before obtaining your degree as long as you expect to graduate from your JD program before the date of your bar exam
  • Undergo a Character and Fitness Evaluation: Applicants must begin the character and fitness evaluation process by submitting the required documents. This includes a comprehensive background check to identify any potential issues that might affect suitability for bar admission. Applicants also need to provide references from two individuals who can vouch for their moral character and fitness for legal practice
  • Pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE): Applicants must score at least 85 on the MPRE and submit their results by the deadline for their intended bar exam session. They must obtain this score within three years of their application

Note: If you haven’t achieved a passing score on the MPRE by the time of your bar exam application, you may still apply, but you’ll have to pay an additional $100 fee.

Nebraska Exam Structure

In 2013, the state of Nebraska adopted the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE), which adheres to the following structure:

Day 1:

  • Multistate Performance Test (MPT): Two 90-minute Multistate Performance Test Questions (20%)
  • Multistate Essay Examination (MEE): Six 30-minute Multistate Essay Exam questions (30%)

Day 2:

  • Multistate Bar Examination (MBE): 200-question multiple-choice exam (50%)

The UBE exam is scored out of 400 points, 270 of which need to be answered correctly in order for a candidate to receive a passing mark.

Below, we’ve broken down the content and structure of each exam-related requirement in more detail.

Multistate Performance Test (MPT)

The MPT is made up of two 90-minute parts, and the materials for each part contain a “File” and a “Library.”

The File consists of source documents that contain all of the facts of a specific case.

As the examinee, the assignment that you will need to complete will be described in a memorandum from a supervising attorney.

The File can also include things like transcripts of interviews, depositions, pleadings, trials, client documents, newspaper articles, police reports, and any other similar documents.

Keep in mind that irrelevant information is generally included, and facts are sometimes incomplete, ambiguous, or even conflicting.

This is meant to mirror legal practice, in which a client’s or supervising attorney’s version of events may be unreliable or entirely incomplete. In such a scenario, you will be expected to recognize when facts are inconsistent or missing in the exam and identify sources of additional facts.

The Library part contains things like cases, statutes, and regulations, some of which may also not be relevant to the task that you will be assigned. You will need to be able to extract the legal principles required to analyze the legal problem you’ll be presented with and perform the requested task.

For more information, you can have a look at the National Conference of Bar Examiners’ Instructions for Taking the MPT document.

Free summaries of MPTs from recent examinations are also offered (e.g., MPT Summaries of 2023).

Multistate Essay Exam (MEE)

The MEE consists of six 30-minute sections that can cover a variety of legal areas, including:

  • Civil Procedure
  • Business Associations (e.g., Agency and Partnership, LLCs, Corporations, etc.)
  • Conflict of Laws
  • Constitutional Law
  • Contract Law
  • Family Law
  • Criminal Law
  • Torts
  • Trust and Estates

Keep in mind that questions can often include issues in more than one area of law. This means that it’ll be important to ensure that you have a “wide” range of understanding rather than a deep focus on one or two subjects.

Note: For more information, have a look at the NCBE’s official Instructions for Taking the MEE document or check out a few official MEE questions.

Multistate Bar Exam (MBE)

The MBE is made up of 200 multiple-choice questions, which are broken down into 175 scored questions and 25 unscored questions.

The exam is broken down into two three-hour sections, with one administered in the morning and one in the afternoon, both of which contain 100 questions each.

Keep in mind that there are no scheduled breaks during either one of the sections.

All 175 scored questions on the exam are distributed evenly, with 25 questions being attributed to each of the following seven topics:

  • Constitutional Law
  • Civil Procedure
  • Contract Law
  • Real Property
  • Tort Law
  • Evidence
  • Criminal Law and Procedure

Each question on the MBE exam will have four potential answers. You should choose what you believe is the best answer — keep in mind that scores are based on the number of questions answered correctly, and points are not subtracted for answering incorrectly.

If you want to have a look at the exact format, you can have a look at the NCBE’s official MBE Sample Test Questions document.

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Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE)

The MPRE is made up of 60 multiple-choice questions (50 scored questions and 10 unscored questions) and is administered via Pearson VUE.

Like the MBE exam, each question offers four possible answers, one of which is correct.

The exam’s content is based on law that relates to the conduct and discipline of attorneys and judges and includes the American Bar Association’s (ABA) Model Rules of Professional Conduct and Model Code of Judicial Conduct, as well as important constitutional common law and generally accepted principles.

In relation to questions of professional responsibility in the context of evidentiary issues (e.g., litigation sanctions, attorney-client evidentiary privilege, etc.), the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the Federal Rules of Evidence will apply unless otherwise stated.

Note: You will have two hours to complete the MPRE exam in its entirety.

For more information, we recommend having a look at the NCBE’s Official Sample Test Questions document. A holistic Subject Matter Outline is also offered.

How to Pass the Nebraska Bar Exam

In order to give yourself the best chance of passing the Nebraska UBE on your first attempt, it’s important to take enough time to make sure you’re adequately prepared.

Nebraska Bar Exam Tips

Despite the infamous difficulty of Nebraska’s bar exam, passing it on your first attempt is definitely possible with the right tools and preparation techniques.

Here are a few key tips that should aid you in your licensing journey:

  • Start strong in your first year. This is important due to the fundamental areas of law practice that the first year of law school generally covers, such as contract, tort, and constitutional law
  • Leverage academic support. If your law school offers additional support services aimed at improving your preparation, use these as much as possible. This can involve one-on-one tutoring, academic counseling, and mock exam programs
  • Obtain practical legal experience. If possible, gain as much practical experience as you can during law school (e.g., through summer internships, mock trials, etc.). This experience can go a long way in cementing your legal knowledge
  • Adopt a broad study approach. When studying for the bar, aim for a wide-ranging understanding of various subjects rather than an in-depth study of a few. This is important given the huge amount of content you’ll need to learn for this test

Most importantly, make sure you remain consistent so you don’t have to resort to last-minute cramming.

Research shows people retain a higher degree of information — and more easily — when revisiting old content vs. learning it for the first time. This is known as Ebbinghaus’s Forgetting Curve.

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Other Nebraska Bar Requirements

Apart from qualifying for and passing the Nebraska bar exam, you’ll need to meet several other requirements in order to become and remain a licensed attorney in the state. These include:

  1. Passing the Character and Fitness Evaluation
  2. Completing the Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) Requirements

1. Passing the Character and Fitness Evaluation

After passing the Nebraska bar exam, applicants may be subject to a final determination of character and fitness by the Nebraska State Bar Commission.

As part of this process, the Commission may ask applicants to attend an interview to address issues or clarify concerns raised during the initial document submission phase. The Commission’s inquiry may span a variety of topics during the interview, including:

  • Misconduct in employment
  • Acts involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation
  • Abuse of the legal process
  • Neglect of financial responsibilities and professional obligations
  • Violation of court orders
  • Evidence of mental or emotional instability
  • Denial of bar admission in other jurisdictions

The Commission considers a variety of factors when evaluating the weight of these factors, including the age of the applicant in question, how recently any potentially disqualifying conduct occurred, and any underlying factors that may have facilitated said conduct.

Note: Should the Commission deny an applicant’s admission based on character and fitness concerns, the applicant may not reapply for a period of three years (unless a different period is specified).

2. Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) Requirements

The Nebraska Supreme Court requires attorneys to undertake MCLE in order to stay up-to-date with the evolving legal practices and legislature of the state.

Specifically, attorneys must complete 10 hours of approved MCLE activities annually, with at least two of those hours being allocated towards ethics or professional responsibility.

Attorneys may complete up to five hours of their annual MCLE requirement through computer-based legal education programs, which encompass formats like recorded or live-streamed webinars and online courses.

Keep in mind that attorneys must record their completed MCLE hours on the Nebraska Attorney Services Division website.

Note: For a comprehensive overview of MCLE requirements, visit the Nebraska Attorney Services Division website.

Admission on Motion (Reciprocity)

Nebraska offers a pathway for attorneys from other jurisdictions to become part of the Nebraska bar through its admission on motion process. This process permits qualified attorneys to gain admission without having to take the bar exam.

For those applying for admission on motion, Nebraska categorizes applicants into five distinct categories. The application process includes a total fee of $950, which encompasses both a $925 motion fee and a $25 online processing fee — all payable electronically upon submission.

Below, you’ll find everything you need to know about the five different categories and what their respective requirements entail.

Class 1-A Applicants

These applicants seek admission based on their legal standing and credentials from other states, the District of Columbia, or jurisdictions where the Common Law of England forms the basis of jurisprudence.

Prerequisites for Class 1-A:

  • Must be licensed and in good standing before the highest court of another jurisdiction
  • Educational qualifications must be equivalent to those required in Nebraska at the time of their admission
  • Must have passed a non-UBE with a score equivalent to Nebraska’s UBE passing score
  • Must meet the MPRE score requirement established by Nebraska

Class 1-B Applicants

Class 1-B is designed for those with an active legal practice outside Nebraska and a previous bar exam score.

Prerequisites for Class 1-B:

  • Must have previously obtained a passing score on any bar exam
  • Must be licensed and in good standing before the highest court of another state, territory, or US district
  • Must have actively engaged in the practice of law in another state, territory, or district of the United States, or have been properly registered as in-house counsel in Nebraska for three of the five years immediately preceding their application
  • Educational qualifications must be equivalent to those required at the time of application for admission by exam to the Nebraska bar

Class 1-C Applicants

Applicants in this class are eligible based on their UBE scores obtained in another jurisdiction.

Prerequisites for Class 1-C:

  • Must have taken the UBE in another jurisdiction and earned at least Nebraska’s minimum required score
  • Must have attained educational qualifications by the time of application equivalent to those required for Nebraska bar admission
  • Must have passed the MPRE with the minimum score established by Nebraska

Class 1-D Applicants (Military Spouses)

This class accommodates military spouses with expedited processing and reduced fees.

 Prerequisites for Class 1-D:

  • Must be admitted to practice law in another US state, territory, or the District of Columbia
  • Must hold a JD or Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree from an approved law school
  • Must be a member in good standing in all jurisdictions where they’re admitted
  • Must have no history of suspension, disbarment, or disciplinary action affecting their license to practice law
  • Must possess the character and fitness to practice law in Nebraska
  • Must have residency or employment in Nebraska, or plans to within the next six months
  • Must be the spouse of an active duty member of the US Armed Forces stationed in Nebraska
  • Can’t have failed Nebraska’s bar exam within five years of applying
  • Can’t have been previously denied admission to practice law in Nebraska
  • Must be familiar with the Nebraska Rules of Professional Conduct

Note: Class 1-D applicants are eligible for a 50% reduced application fee.

Class 1-E Applicants

Class 1-E is intended for attorneys previously admitted in Nebraska seeking reinstatement.

Prerequisites for Class 1-E:

  • Must have been previously admitted to practice law in Nebraska and subsequently retired or resigned
  • Must pay any mandatory membership assessment and late fees due at the time of their retirement or resignation
  • Must resolve any noncompliance with MCLE requirements prior to reinstatement

Note: Nebraska’s admission on motion process doesn’t operate on a basis of bar reciprocity with other states. Therefore, attorneys who meet the above requirements are encouraged to apply for admission regardless of what state they are currently licensed in.

For more detailed information, check out the Nebraska Supreme Court rules on admission by attorney/Class 1-A, 1-B, 1-C, 1-D, and 1-E motion applicants.

Nebraska Bar Exam FAQ

Can you take the Nebraska bar exam without going to law school?

Yes and no. Taking the bar exam in Nebraska generally requires you to have graduated from an ABA-accredited law school. Having said that, law students who’ll earn their degree by the exam day may initiate the application process before graduation. Interested in learning more? Check out our What is the Bar Exam article.

How long is the Nebraska bar exam?

The Nebraska bar exam occurs over two days, adhering to the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) format. The first day includes MPT and MEE questions while the second day focuses on the MBE. To learn more about the Nebraska bar exam format, consider enrolling in a bar review course to gain deeper insights into the exam’s structure.

How hard is it to pass the Nebraska state bar examination?

Passing the Nebraska state bar exam is challenging, which reflects the high standards of the legal profession. Keep in mind that an in-depth study of various legal areas, such as federal civil procedure, sales criminal law, and secured transactions, can significantly increase your chances of passing.

How much does the Nebraska bar exam cost?

The cost for first-time Nebraska bar exam takers is $515. If you file their application after the deadline — which is November 1 for the February exam and March 1 for the July exam — you’ll additionally incur a late fee of $150. For more Nebraska bar exam information, check out our Nebraska Bar Exam article.