How to Become a Lawyer in Massachusetts: Bar Exam, MPRE, and Admission Requirements for 2024

Are you considering a career as a lawyer in the beautiful state of Massachusetts? If so, you’re in the right place. In this article, we’ll discuss how to become a lawyer in Massachusetts. Becoming a licensed attorney in Massachusetts requires commitment and hard work, but the rewards are well worth it. To ensure a successful journey, it’s crucial to understand the step-by-step process, from education to bar admission. We’ll guide you through every stage of the process, providing valuable insights and advice to help you achieve your dream of practicing law in the Bay State.

What you’re about to learn in this guide:

  • Complete an undergraduate degree, pass the LSAT and graduate from an accredited law school to pursue a legal career in Massachusetts.

  • Pass both the Bar Exam and MPRE with varying passing scores by jurisdiction to become licensed as a lawyer in MA.

  • Complete 12 hours of approved Continuing Legal Education (CLE) courses annually for license maintenance & successful legal career planning.

Education and Law School Requirements

The foundation of any legal career is a solid education. Before you can even think about taking the Massachusetts Bar Exam, you’ll need to complete several important steps. These include obtaining an undergraduate degree, acing the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), and graduating from an accredited law school.

We will now examine each of these important stages to provide a clear understanding of what lies ahead.

Undergraduate Degree

First and foremost, you’ll need to complete a bachelor’s degree in any field of your choice before applying to law school. This is a minimum requirement in Massachusetts, and it lays the groundwork for your legal career. While some aspiring lawyers opt for majors such as political science or criminal justice, the most important thing is to choose a field that genuinely interests you and prepares you for the rigors of law school.

Maintaining a strong academic performance throughout your undergraduate studies is important, as law schools will pay close attention to your GPA when evaluating your application. Additionally, engaging in extracurricular activities, internships, and volunteer work can help demonstrate your commitment to public service and enhance your law school application.


Once you’ve completed your undergraduate degree, it’s time to tackle the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). This standardized test is used by law schools to evaluate applicants, including those interested in criminal law. Designed to measure your aptitude for law school, the LSAT consists of multiple-choice sections that assess reading comprehension, analytical reasoning, and logical reasoning skills.

A high score on the LSAT is important because it significantly influences your chances of admission to your preferred law school. LSAT scores range from 120 to 180, with 180 being the highest possible score. To maximize your chances of success, consider taking an LSAT prep course or working with a tutor to help you achieve a competitive score.

Accredited Law School

After acing the LSAT, you’ll need to attend and graduate from an American Bar Association (ABA)-accredited law school to obtain your Juris Doctor (JD) degree. ABA accreditation ensures that the law school meets established standards of quality and provides a well-rounded legal education.

Earning a JD typically entails three years of full-time study, during which you’ll dive into various areas of law, such as contracts, torts, and constitutional law. In addition to classroom learning, you’ll have opportunities to participate in legal clinics, moot court competitions, and internships, gaining invaluable practical experience.

Upon completing your law school education, you’ll be well-prepared to take on the challenges of the Massachusetts Bar Exam and embark on your legal career.

Massachusetts Bar Exam and MPRE

Now that you have your JD degree, it’s time to conquer the Massachusetts Bar Exam and the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE). Both of these exams are essential for gaining admission to the Massachusetts bar and becoming a licensed attorney in the state.

We will now examine each of these important exams in detail, alongside their respective requirements, testing accommodations, and exam dates.

Massachusetts Bar Exam

The Massachusetts Bar Exam is a two-day examination, consisting of the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) components, which include the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE), Multistate Essay Exam (MEE), and Multistate Performance Test (MPT). The first day features the MEE and MPT, where you’ll be required to demonstrate your ability to apply the law to specific facts and convey your analysis effectively in writing. On the second day, you’ll face the MBE, a 200-question multiple-choice exam that covers a wide range of legal topics.

To pass the Massachusetts Bar Exam, you’ll need to achieve a minimum score of 270. In preparation for this challenging exam, you might consider:

  • Enrolling in a bar review course

  • Taking practice exams

  • Becoming familiar with the exam format and content

  • Developing a study plan that allocates sufficient time to each component of the exam and addresses any areas needing additional practice or review

Keep in mind that the Massachusetts Bar Exam is administered twice a year, typically in February and July. Be sure to plan your study schedule accordingly and register for the exam well in advance to secure your spot.


In addition to the Massachusetts Bar Exam, you’ll also need to pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE). This two-hour, 60-question multiple-choice exam is designed to assess your understanding of the ethical standards that govern the professional conduct of lawyers.

The passing score for the MPRE varies by jurisdiction, so it’s important to consult the specific requirements for Massachusetts. The MPRE is generally administered in March, August, and November at Prometric Testing Centers. To register for the MPRE, create an account on the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) website and pay the required exam fee of $150.

Character and Fitness Evaluation

As part of the bar admission process, you’ll need to undergo a thorough character and fitness evaluation. This assessment is designed to ensure that you possess the moral character and fitness required to practice law in Massachusetts.

To complete the evaluation, you’ll be required to provide comprehensive information about your background, including:

  • Your educational history

  • Your employment history

  • Your criminal history

  • Your financial history

  • Your litigation history

  • Your mental health and substance abuse history

  • Your driving history

It’s crucial to be honest and transparent when providing this information, as any discrepancies or omissions may raise concerns during the evaluation process and potentially impact your ability to gain admission to the bar.

Application Process for Bar Admission

After meeting all the educational and examination requirements, it’s time to submit a complete application for bar admission in Massachusetts. This process entails providing all necessary documentation, paying the required fees, and meeting any specific deadlines.

We will now discuss the steps involved in the application process and highlight the importance of following the established guidelines.

Deadlines and Fees

Keeping track of application deadlines and fees for the Massachusetts Bar Exam is vital. The filing deadlines for the exam typically fall in early December for the February exam and early May for the July exam. The fees for the exam are $815 for the July exam and $1,015 for Admission on Motion.

To stay informed about deadlines and fees, be sure to regularly visit the website of the Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners. This resource will provide you with the most up-to-date information on the application process and any changes to deadlines or fees.

Required Documentation

In order to successfully apply for bar admission, persons seeking admission will need to provide all necessary documentation to the Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners. This includes:

  • A completed application form

  • Transcripts from your law school

  • A certificate of good standing from any other jurisdictions where you are admitted

  • A character and fitness questionnaire

  • Letters of recommendation

  • Proof of completion of the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE)

  • An application fee.

When submitting your application, be sure to review the specific requirements set forth by the Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners to ensure that your submission is complete and accurate. Failure to provide all required documentation may result in delays or even denial of your application.

Preparing for the Bar Exam

Preparation for the Massachusetts Bar Exam is a vital step in your journey towards becoming a licensed attorney. To maximize your chances of success, consider utilizing bar review courses, practice exams, and other resources. These tools can help you familiarize yourself with the exam format, content, and scoring system, and enable you to identify any areas where you may need additional practice or review.

When selecting a bar review course, consider exploring options listed on FindLaw’s website. Additionally, practice exams can be found online, often for free or at a low cost. By dedicating ample time and effort to exam preparation, you’ll be well-positioned to pass the Massachusetts Bar Exam and embark on your legal career.

Transferring UBE Scores and Reciprocity

For those who have already taken the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) in another jurisdiction, you may be able to transfer your UBE scores to Massachusetts, depending on your score and the jurisdiction’s requirements. Additionally, certain attorneys may be eligible for admission to the Massachusetts bar without having to take the bar exam, a concept known as reciprocity. We will delve into these options in further detail.

UBE Score Transfer

Massachusetts is one of the many jurisdictions that accept UBE scores from other jurisdictions. If you have a UBE score of 270 or higher, obtained within the past 36 months, you may be eligible to transfer your score to Massachusetts and gain admission to the bar without retaking the exam. Keep in mind, however, that transferring UBE scores generally requires meeting other eligibility criteria, such as obtaining a qualifying MPRE score and adhering to character and fitness standards.

For more information on the UBE score transfer process, consult the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE): UBE Score Portability.


Reciprocity refers to the eligibility for bar admission in Massachusetts without having to take the bar exam. This option is available to attorneys who meet certain criteria, such as years of practice, active status in another jurisdiction, and a qualifying MPRE score.

It’s important to research the specific requirements for reciprocity in Massachusetts and determine whether you meet the necessary criteria for this alternative route to bar admission.

Post-Bar Exam Steps

Once you’ve successfully passed the Massachusetts Bar Exam, there are a few final steps to complete before you officially become a licensed attorney in the state. These include passing the Massachusetts Law Component (MLC) and participating in the swearing-in ceremony.

We will now discuss these post-exam steps, including the pass list, and their significance in the bar admission process.

Massachusetts Law Component

The MLC stands for Massachusetts Legal Concepts Examination. It is comprised of 50 multiple-choice questions which evaluate the exam taker’s understanding of significant measures and main focuses of Massachusett law and process. Although you’ll gain access to the MLC exam and outlines through the Applicant Portal prior to the bar exam, it’s highly recommended that you complete the MLC following the bar exam.

Failing to complete the MLC by the specified dates can result in delays in your admission to the bar, so be sure to stay on top of this requirement.

Swearing-In Ceremony

The swearing-in ceremony is the final step in your journey to becoming a licensed attorney in Massachusetts. At this formal event, you’ll take an oath to uphold the Constitution and laws of the United States and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and to practice law with integrity and professionalism before the Supreme Judicial Court.

Upon completion of the ceremony, you’ll officially be a licensed attorney in the state, ready to embark on your legal career and make a difference in the lives of your clients and the community.

As a practicing attorney in Massachusetts, you’ll need to fulfill annual Continuing Legal Education (CLE) requirements to maintain your license. Each year, attorneys must complete 12 hours of approved CLE courses, with some exemptions for newly admitted attorneys. CLE courses cover a wide range of topics, including legal ethics, professional responsibility, and other subjects relevant to the practice of law.

By staying up-to-date with CLE requirements, you’ll continue to hone your skills and knowledge, ensuring that you provide the highest level of service to your clients.

Job Market and Salary Expectations

As you begin your legal career in Massachusetts, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the job market and salary expectations for attorneys in the state. Factors influencing earnings and career growth include experience, location, and industry, among others. The average salary for an attorney in Massachusetts is $91,480 per year, with some cities, such as Boston, Braintree, and Salem, offering higher remuneration.

By understanding the job market and salary expectations, you can better plan for your future as a Massachusetts attorney. Whether you choose to specialize in a specific area of law or work in a particular industry, your dedication and hard work will pave the way for a successful and fulfilling legal career.


In conclusion, becoming a lawyer in Massachusetts is a challenging yet rewarding journey. By understanding the various steps involved, from education and law school requirements to the bar exam and post-exam procedures, you’ll be well-equipped to navigate the path to bar admission and a successful legal career.

As you embark on this exciting journey, remember that the legal profession is not only about knowledge and skills, but also about upholding justice, serving your clients with integrity, and making a difference in your community. With dedication and perseverance, you can achieve your dream of practicing law in the beautiful state of Massachusetts.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many years is law school in Massachusetts?

In Massachusetts, law school typically takes three years to complete if studying full-time, or four years part-time. Joint degree programs also available which may take longer.

How many years of college do you need to be a lawyer in Massachusetts?

In Massachusetts, prospective lawyers will need to complete an undergraduate degree, which usually takes 4 years, followed by 3 years in law school. Upon completion of the Juris Doctor degree, students must then pass the state’s bar exam to be eligible to practice as a lawyer.

Is 30 too late to become a lawyer?

At 30 years old, it is possible to start a new career as a lawyer. Law schools don’t have age restrictions and 20% of applicants are 30 or older. With preexisting skills and experiences, many find their new legal careers fulfilling.

What is the fastest time to become a lawyer?

The fastest way to become a lawyer is to pursue an accelerated JD program which typically takes two years or opt for a 3+3 JD program which allows you to complete your undergraduate degree and law school simultaneously.

What is the passing score for the Massachusetts Bar Exam?

In order to pass the Massachusetts Bar Exam, applicants must score a minimum of 270.

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