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In re Rules for Admission to Bar of Montana

Supreme Court of Montana

October 30, 2018

IN RE THE RULES FOR ADMISSION TO THE BAR OF MONTANA

          ORDER

         By order dated March 9, 2018, this Court opened a 90-day comment period on a petition filed by Dean Paul F. Kirgis of the Alexander Blewett III School of Law at the University of Montana to amend Rule I(G)(5)(b) of the Rules for Admission to the Bar of Montana to facilitate the admission of law faculty. The amendment would provide a fee waiver for admission as an active member of the Montana Bar for a dean or teacher of law at an accredited law school located in the state of Montana, provided that the faculty member so admitted may not represent clients for personal remuneration. One comment was submitted opposing the rule change.

         After review and consideration of the petition and the comment, at a public meeting on August 21, 2018, the Court determined that the amendment to Rule I(G)(5)(b) is well taken.

         IT IS ORDERED that the proposed change to Rule I(G)(5)(b) as approved by the Court is ADOPTED. The Rules for Admission to the Bar of Montana are amended to read as shown in the attachment to this Order, effective immediately.

         A copy of this Order and the attached rules shall be posted on the Court's website. In addition, the Clerk is directed to provide copies of this Order and the attachment to the Executive Director and the Bar Admissions administrator of the State Bar of Montana with the request that they be posted to the State Bar's website, to Dean Paul Kirgis of the Alexander Blewett III School of Law, to the State Law Library, to Todd Everts and Connie Dixon at Montana Legislative Services, to Helene Haapala and Scott Moe at Thomson Reuters, and to the Statute Legislation department and Patti Glueckert at LexisNexis. DATED this 30th day of October, 2018.

         RULES FOR ADMISSION TO THE BAR OF MONTANA

         I. Application Process

         II. Commission on Character and Fitness

         III. Board of Bar Examiners and Examination Requirements

         IV. Admission by Transfer of Uniform Bar Examination Score

         V. Admission on Motion

         VI. Pro Hac Vice Appearance

         VII. Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination

         VIII. Montana Law Seminar

         IX. Records and Confidentiality

         X. Admission Ceremony

         XI. Administration

         I. APPLICATION PROCESS

         A. Administration

         Admission to the State Bar of Montana is governed by the Montana Supreme Court Commission on Character and Fitness and the Montana Supreme Court Board of Bar Examiners. The State Bar of Montana Bar Admissions Administrator administers admission to the State Bar of Montana. An applicant who is aggrieved by the action of the Bar Admissions Administrator may request the action be reviewed by the Commission on Character and Fitness or the Board of Bar Examiners. A decision of the Commission may be appealed to the Montana Supreme Court.

         B. Methods of Admission

         Admission to the State Bar of Montana may be accomplished by four methods:

1. examination as provided in Rule III;
2. transfer of Uniform Bar Examination score from another jurisdiction as provided in Rule IV;
3. admission on motion as provided in Rule V; and
4. pro hac vice appearance as provided in Rule VI.

         C. Classification

         The following applicants are eligible to apply for admission to the State Bar of Montana:

1. a student applicant, who is an applicant who has never held a license to practice law. At the time of taking the Montana Uniform Bar Examination, a student applicant must have a Juris Doctor from a law school accredited by the American Bar Association at the time of graduation. An L.L.M. degree is not considered the equivalent of a Juris Doctor degree;
2. an attorney applicant, who is an applicant with a Juris Doctor from a law school accredited by the American Bar Association at the time of graduation, and who is admitted to practice law in another state, district, or territory of the United States. An L.L.M. degree is not considered the equivalent of a Juris Doctor degree; or
3. a resigned applicant, who is an applicant who was previously a member of the State Bar of Montana but resigned the Bar membership. To apply for reinstatement, resigned members shall petition the Montana Supreme Court and may be required to submit to a character and fitness investigation, supply the supporting documentation, and pay the application fee. Unless otherwise ordered by the Montana Supreme Court, resigned members will not be required to sit for any portion of the Montana Uniform Bar Examination.

         D. Application

1. Except for pro hac vice appearance, an applicant for admission shall prepare the application electronically using the National Conference of Bar Examiners online application. The National Conference of Bar Examiners Application for Montana must be completed online and printed, and for those applying for admission by examination, must be postmarked by the application filing deadline. Prior versions of the application will not be accepted. In addition to completing the online application requirements, an applicant must mail to the Montana Bar Admissions Administrator a signed original application, the Montana Application Cover Sheet, and all documents required on the Application Checklist with the Montana application fee.
2. An applicant shall submit the supporting documents identified on the

         Admissions Checklist.

         E. Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination

         Except for pro hac vice appearance, an applicant for admission must pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination as provided in Rule VII.

         F. Montana Law Seminar

         Except for pro hac vice appearance, an applicant for admission must complete the Montana Law Seminar provided in Rule VIII.

         G. Fees

1. The Montana Supreme Court shall set all Montana fees for bar admission.
2. Montana bar admission fees must be paid to the Montana Supreme Court Bar Admissions Administrator at the State Bar of Montana. The Montana application fee is nonrefundable and may not be credited for any reason, including but not limited to denial of admission, withdrawal of the application, or failure to pursue admission after application, regardless of the date of notification by the applicant or the Bar Admissions Administrator.
3. Fees associated with the National Conference of Bar Examiners character and fitness investigation and the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination are separate from and in addition to Montana bar admission fees. They are set by and paid directly to the National Conference of Bar Examiners.
4. An applicant who is granted leave to file a late application shall pay an additional late filing fee. An applicant applying for deferral of examination shall pay an additional deferral fee. An applicant applying for reexamination shall pay all regular examination fees.
5. (a) An applicant for admission on motion shall pay an application fee of $2, 500, which includes the Montana attorney application fee; Montana Law Seminar registration fee; and the first year's fees and assessments, including assessments for the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, Lawyers' Fund, and annual attorney license. The State Bar of Montana application fee does not include the fee for the character and fitness investigation conducted by the National Conference of Bar Examiners.
(b) The Montana attorney application fee must be waived for an applicant for admission on motion who:
(i) is employed by or has secured employment with an Access to Justice Organization as defined in M. R. Civ. P. 23(i);
(ii) is employed full-time or has secured full-time employment as a dean or teacher of law at a law school located in Montana and approved by the Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admission to the Bar of the American Bar Association, and who does not represent clients for personal remuneration; or
(iii) is seeking admission to emeritus status. The applicant must, however, pay the State Bar fees for new admittees and fees and assessments for the Montana Law Seminar registration, the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, Lawyers' Fund, and annual attorney license, as provided in (a). If the admitted applicant ceases to be employed by the qualifying employer, no longer holds full-time status as a dean or teacher of law at the Montana law school, or transfers from emeritus to active status within two years of the fee waiver, the admitted applicant shall notify the Bar Admissions Administrator and must either pay the waived fees or relinquish admission to the State Bar of Montana.
6. Attorneys admitted pro hac vice shall pay an application fee and continue to pay annual dues and fees each year for the term of the Montana litigation or until such time that the Bar Admissions Administrator is advised that the attorney has withdrawn from representation. However, an attorney who is appearing pro bono, as defined under Rule 6.1 of the Rules of Professional Conduct, may pay a one-time-only pro hac vice fee equal to the amount paid annually by active members of the Montana Bar.

         II. COMMISSION ON CHARACTER AND FITNESS

         A. Composition, Nomination, and Appointment

The Commission on Character and Fitness is appointed by the Montana Supreme Court and consists of nine members, six of whom must be licensed Montana attorneys and three of whom must be lay members, nominated by either the State Bar or the Montana Supreme Court. Each member serves until a successor is appointed.

         B. Duties

The Commission on Character and Fitness:
1. processes each application for admission to the State Bar of Montana and makes a determination of the character and fitness of each applicant pursuant to the Rules of Procedure of the Commission on Character and Fitness; and
2. administers pro hac vice appearances.

         III. BOARD OF BAR EXAMINERS AND EXAMINATION REQUIREMENTS

         A. Composition and Appointment

         The Board is appointed by the Montana Supreme Court and consists of seven members. Each member serves until a successor is appointed.

         B. Duties

         The Board:

1. administers the Montana Uniform Bar Examination. The Uniform Bar Examination consists of:
a. the Multistate Essay Examination (MEE), a three-hour essay examination consisting of questions developed by the National Conference of Bar Examiners;
b. the Multistate Performance Test (MPT), a three-hour examination consisting of two questions designed to test the applicant's ability to use fundamental lawyering ...

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