Publication year2014
Vol. 27 No. 1 Pg. 18
Utah Bar Journal
February, 2014.

January, 2014


Learned Ham

Have you ever done something you couldn't explain? Like sleepwalking, wearing a yellow necktie, ordering ceviche on purpose, majoring in economics, or watching professional bowling on TV? I just took the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam ("MPRE"). I don't remember taking it before. I passed the bar exam in Utah in 1984, and I probably took a lot of things back then that I don't remember now. Maybe the MPRE was one of them.

I took it now because for some reason I want a license to practice law in Connecticut. I live in Connecticut now. It's a pretty, great state. If you don't mind Lyme disease. I've been working here as in-house counsel. I have a certificate to prove it. My certificate is valid as long as I remain in good standing with the Utah State Bar, which - and this will come as a mild surprise to some -hasn't been a problem so far. I don't need a Connecticut license. I don't even want one. But I decided it would be a good thing to do to keep my options open. That's the same reason I went to law school, which probably should have made me stop and think. But if you stop and think about everything, nothing ever gets done. Stop and think about that. If we had stopped and thought about it, would Afghanistan be the vibrant pluralist, democratic society that it is today? My point exactly.

So I recently took the MPRE. And maybe thirty years ago, too. Or maybe not. I paid for an online review course. I read the study guide. Well worth it. It was full of valuable insights like "don't steal client funds, " "don't lie to judges, " and "don't go into business with accountants." I kept wanting to add knowledge and materiality qualifiers. There was a sample test, too.

Question 6: Should retainer agreements be in writing?

a. Only if the client is illiterate.

b. Not if opposing counsel is of legal age.

c. Yes, if you're an orthodontist.

d. Sure, why not?

The questions on the actual test were a little less straightforward.

Question 437: Attorney Alpha represents Client, the seller in a lawsuit resulting from an aborted real estate transaction involving property that was previously the subject of an abandoned eminent domain proceeding handled by Alpha's current partner, Attorney Beta, while she was a staff lawyer for the municipality. The buyer is represented...

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