5 Rules You Need to Know for the MPRE​

The Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) is right around the corner. Although there are several hundred legal rules which may be tested on the MPRE, some rules tend to be tested more frequently. In this post, we’ll identify and discuss five of the most commonly tested rules.

1) A Lawyer Possesses Duties to Client upon Withdrawal of Representation

A lawyer must avoid jeopardizing a client’s position upon withdrawal of representation. Upon withdrawal, a lawyer generally possesses a duty to promptly provide files for continued representation and to return the balance of any unearned retainer. Upon termination of client representation, a lawyer must take steps to the extent reasonably practicable to protect a client’s interests, such as:

  • giving reasonable notice to the client,
  • allowing time for employment of other counsel,
  • surrendering papers and property to which the client is entitled, and
  • refunding any advance payment of a fee that has not been earned or incurred.

2) Contingency Fees Permitted Except in Criminal or Domestic Relations Matters

Contingency fees for legal representation are generally permitted. However, contingency fees are not permitted in criminal or domestic relations cases. A lawyer cannot enter into an arrangement for, charge, or collect:

  • a contingent fee for representing a defendant in criminal case; or
  • any fee in a domestic relations matter, the payment or amount of which is contingent upon the securing of a divorce or upon the amount of alimony or support, or property settlement in lieu thereof.

3) Contingency Fees Agreements Must be in Writing and Signed

A contingent fee agreement must be in writing and signed by the client and must state the method by which the fee is to be determined, including:

  • the percentage or percentages that will accrue to the lawyer in the event of settlement, trial, or appeal;
  • litigation and other expenses to be deducted from the recovery, and
  • whether such expenses are to be deducted before or after the contingent fee is calculated.

The agreement must clearly notify the client of any expenses for which the client will be liable whether or not the client is the prevailing party. Upon conclusion of a contingent fee matter, the lawyer must provide the client with a written statement describing the outcome of the matter and, if there is a recovery, showing the remittance to the client and the method of its determination.

4) A Lawyer Owes a Duty of Competence

A lawyer has a duty to act competently with regard to legal representation. A lawyer must apply the diligence; learning and skill; and mental, emotional, and physical ability reasonably necessary for the performance of the legal service requested. The obligation includes the obligation to maintain that competence. This can occur by means of continuing legal education.

For example, if a lawyer has only represented clients in child custody disputes, it may violate the duty of competence for the lawyer to accept representation of a high-profile criminal defendant in a potential death penalty case. Of course, the lawyer could obtain the necessary competence to handle the case or associate with a lawyer who is competent.

5) A Lawyer Owes a Duty of Diligence

A lawyer must act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client. For example, if a lawyer receives a settlement offer from an opposing party, the lawyer must promptly disclose the settlement offer to the client. Failure to act diligently with respect to the representation will result in a violation of the duty of diligence.

These are just a few of the rules that you must learn in order to pass the MPRE. If you need assistance preparing for the exam, feel free to enroll in AmeriBar’s free online MPRE course. The course contains lectures, outlines, and practice tests. To sign up, just go here.