About the Bar Exam

Student Taking Bar

The New Mexico Board of Bar Examiners requires that you pass the MPRE and the New Mexico bar exam, complete and return the required forms, have the Law School send an official transcript that evidences graduation, and complete fingerprinting cards and send them to the New Mexico Department of Public Safety in order to be licensed to practice law in New Mexico.

Forms are available on the New Mexico Board of Bar Examiners Website.

http://www.nmexam.org/application_forms.html. Completed forms should be mailed or delivered to the Board.

Character and Fitness

All states will require some form of showing good character and fitness. In New Mexico, the Board of Bar Examiners describes this in Rule 15-103(C) as:

  1. Character and fitness standards and investigation.
    1. The purpose of character and fitness investigation before admission to the bar is to assure the protection of the public and to safeguard the justice system.
    2. The applicant bears the burden of proving good character in support of the application.
    3. The revelation or discovery of any of the following may be treated as cause for further inquiry before the board determines whether the applicant possesses the character and fitness to practice law:
      • unlawful conduct;
      • academic misconduct;
      • misconduct in employment;
      • acts involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation;
      • acts which demonstrate disregard for the rights or welfare of others;
      • abuse of legal process, including the filing of vexatious or frivolous lawsuits;
      • neglect of financial responsibilities or professional obligations;
      • violation of an order of a court, including child support orders;
      • conduct that evidences current mental or emotional instability that may impair the ability to practice law;
      • conduct that evidences current drug or alcohol dependence or abuse that may impair the ability to practice law;
      • denial of admission to the bar in another jurisdiction on character and fitness grounds;
      • disciplinary action by a lawyer disciplinary agency or other professional disciplinary agency of any jurisdiction;
      • making of false statements, including omissions, on bar applications in this state or any other jurisdiction; or
      • as otherwise determined by the board for just and good cause.
    4. The board shall determine whether the present character and fitness of an applicant qualifies the applicant for admission. In making this determination, the following factors should be considered in assigning weight and significance to prior conduct:
      • the applicant’s age at the time of the conduct;
      • the recency of the conduct;
      • the reliability of the information concerning the conduct;
      • the seriousness of the conduct;
      • the factors underlying the conduct;
      • the cumulative effect of the conduct or information;
      • the evidence of rehabilitation;
      • the applicant’s positive social contributions since the conduct;
      • the applicant’s candor in the admissions process; and
      • the materiality of any omissions or misrepresentations.
    5. The applicant has a continuing obligation to update the application with respect to all matters inquired of on the application. This obligation continues during the pendency of the application, including the period when the matter is on appeal to the board or the Court.
  2. Conviction; rehabilitation. A person who has been convicted of a serious crime as defined under these rules shall prove good moral character by demonstrating by clear and convincing evidence that the applicant is rehabilitated and satisfies all other requirements for good moral character.

The registrar’s office will review your law school file and provide certification as required by each jurisdiction as to your character and fitness. If you plan to take the bar exam outside New Mexico, review the information about each state’s bar application requirements at the National Conference of Bar Examiner’s website www.ncbex.org.

Important Bar Application Information

  1. The Application is an in-depth questionnaire that asks about your history in many different areas dating back as long as 10 years ago. You should review the Application as early as possible to familiarize yourself with the questions.
  2. You must state every residence you have had for the past 5 years, and the time periods you resided at each.
  3. You must state all employment you have had since age 18 or for the past 10 years, whichever is shorter. You must include the time periods you worked at each job, the exact address of each employment, the position you held and the reason for termination or leaving.
  4. You must give a detailed statement regarding any service in the armed forces.
  5. You must state any civil law suits you have been involved in, that you were a party to, or had an interest in, and any charges and arrests made regarding the violation of the law. You also have to include any fraud charges, formal or informal, and any bankruptcy proceedings you have been involved in.
  6. You must make a detailed statement regarding any reprimand or discipline by an employer or educational institution for any misconduct that is indicated in the Application.
  7. Note that questions 26 and 27 are applicable to law students. If a question is not applicable please state so.
  8. There are still many other questions that will require time and thought to answer. Do not wait until the last minute to review and begin answering the application form.

Additional Requirements

  1. Transcript from law school with evidence of graduation (do not send diploma). Your final and complete transcript from law school should indicate that you were awarded your J.D. and on what date. This will satisfy evidence of graduation requirement. If you are a recent graduate, the Board understands that your final transcript might not be available by the filing deadline. It may be added to your file at a later date but must be received prior to administration of the bar exam. The transcript must be sent to the office directly from the law school. Student or Xerox copies are not acceptable.
  2. Fingerprinting
    • FBI Identification and NM State Criminal Record. You must complete two fingerprint cards and submit them both to the New Mexico Department of Public Safety for your FBI and New Mexico criminal record.
    • Where do I get my finger prints done? The Career and Student Services Office set up a fingerprinting session in their office in advance of each bar exam. The date and time will be announced. If you are unable to attend you may have your fingerprinting done by a private company. Information is available in the Career and Student Services Office together with blank fingerprint cards.


The MPRE only requires that you register, and does not require any corresponding applications or information sheets be filled out. You can register online for the MPRE. Plan to take the MPRE shortly after you take ethics, and in any event, before you take the bar exam, otherwise you may be delayed in being licensed.