Being Professionally Responsible

The Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam, otherwise known as the MPRE, is this weekend. For those of you who may not know much about the test, it’s a 2-hour, 60-question multiple-choice exam that is administered by the National Conference of Bar Examiners 3 times each year. It’s also required for admission to the Bar in all but 3 states. The test is based on the rules the govern the conduct of lawyers, such as the Model Rules of Professional Conduct. Each question provides a fact pattern involving a lawyer’s conduct followed by 4 possible answers to a question related to the rules. Since I’ve been studying for the MPRE, I’ve thought a lot about what it means to be professionally responsible as a lawyer.

Lawyers have certain duties to their clients. They have a duty to represent them competently, which means they have the legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness, and preparation to handle a legal matter. These are the traits that many law students have and will only improve upon during law school. There’s also a duty of diligence, which means a lawyer cannot procrastinate and must act as a zealous advocate for their client. Again, most law students will know what procrastination entails as well as what it means to zealously defend a position.

While law students may not have much experience with the duty of confidentiality, it is one of the most important duties that lawyers owe to their clients. With few exceptions, any information relating to a lawyer’s representation of a client must be kept confidential. This is an essential part of the client-lawyer relationship, and a duty that should not be taken lightly.

There are many other rules that all lawyers must know and follow in order to be professionally responsible, but I believe it is the duties we will owe to our clients that should be our guiding principles throughout law school and beyond. Our time in law school is preparing us to be the kinds of lawyers that we should aspire to be. It is up to us to follow through.

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