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Everything You Need To Know About the Michigan Bar Exam

Michigan recently adopted the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE), aligning with 40 other jurisdictions to date. Passing the Michigan Bar Exam requires earning a scaled score of 135. The Michigan Uniform Bar Examination has two components: Michigan Essay Subjects and the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE).

This article will provide you with detailed information about the Michigan Bar Exam to help you prepare thoroughly for success.

Eligibility & Registration

Requirements for Admission

The Michigan Supreme Court establishes the Michigan Bar Exam requirements for admission to practice law in Michigan courtesy of the Rules for the Board of Law Examiners.

According to Rule 1, an applicant for admission to the practice of law

  • must be 18 years old or older;
  • possess good moral character, and
  • have completed, before entering law school, at least 60 semester hours or 90 quarter hours toward an undergraduate degree from an accredited school or while attending an accredited junior or community college.

The Michigan Supreme Court defines an "accredited school" here as "a college accredited to grant collegiate degrees under the laws of the state in which the college is located, or a junior college or other school from which students are accepted as regular third-year students by any accredited college in Michigan authorized to grant collegiate degrees."

According to Rule 2(B), applicants must attain a JD degree from a reputable and qualified law school that is

  • incorporated in the United States, its territories, or the District of Columbia; and
  • requires three school years of study for full-time students, and 4 school years of study for part-time or night students for graduation, with a “school year” comprising at least 30 weeks.

The Supreme Court of Michigan has authorized the Michigan State Board of Law Examiners (BLE) to certify admission to the State Bar of Michigan for out-of-state and foreign attorneys. Attorneys licensed to practice in another state, United States territory, or the District of Columbia may be eligible for admission to the State Bar of Michigan. Learn more at Admission to the Bar in Michigan.

Foreign lawyers are not eligible for admission without examination, and should review BLE Rule 2 and contact the BLE at [email protected] for detailed information on the process and requirements for admission by examination.

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Exam Dates & Schedule

Like most UBE jurisdictions, the Michigan Bar Exam is administered over two days:

  • Day 1 consists of 15 essay questions.
  • Day 2 consists of the 200-question Multistate Bar Exam (MBE), with 100 questions in the morning and 100 in the afternoon.

Structure & Subjects

The Michigan Bar Exam covers the following topics:
  1. Michigan Essay Subjects

The following represent Michigan Bar Exam subjects for the essay portion:

  • Agency
  • Conflict of Laws
  • Constitutional Law
  • Contracts
  • Corporations
  • Creditors' Rights (including Mortgages, Garnishments, and Attachments)
  • Criminal Law and Procedure
  • Domestic Relations
  • Equity
  • Evidence
  • MI Rules of Professional Conduct
  • Partnerships
  • Practice and Procedure (Trial and Appellate, State and Federal)
  • Real and Personal Property
  • Torts (including No-Fault)
  • Trusts
  • Uniform Commercial Code (Negotiable Instruments, Sales, Secured Transactions)
  • Wills
  • Workers' Compensation
  1. Multistate Bar Exam (MBE)

The MBE tests the following subjects across 200 questions:

  • Civil Procedure
  • Evidence
  • Contracts
  • Criminal Law
  • Constitutional Law
  • Real Property
  • Torts

You may find a complete list of subjects and subtopics here: MBE Subject Matter Outline

Note: Before you can practice law in Michigan, you must also pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination, or MPRE, which you must take before submitting your bar application. All Michigan bar applicants must earn a scaled score of 85 to be admitted to the Michigan Bar. The MPRE is administered at various test centers around the United States, including Michigan, in March, August, and November.
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Scoring and Pass Rates

The Michigan bar results are determined as follows: the Michigan Essay Subjects score is scaled to the MBE, with the following weightings:

  • MBE weighted 50%
  • Essays weighted 50%

Applicants must earn a total score of 135 for their Michigan bar results to pass the Michigan Bar Exam. For the most recently published Michigan bar results—July 2021—the Michigan bar exam pass rate for all test-takers was 64%, 75% for first-time, and 23% for repeat test-takers.

Michigan Bar Exam Results Overall Pass Rate First-Timer Pass Rate Repeater Pass Rate Results Release Date
February 2022 TBA TBA TBA TBA
July 2021 64% 78% 23% October 27, 2021

Michigan Bar Exam Reciprocity

Admission by MBE Score Transfer

Michigan allows applicants to transfer an MBE score achieved in the preceding three years from a reciprocal jurisdiction as long as the applicant passed the entire bar exam in which they earned their MBE score. Still, all applicants must sit for the essay portion of the Michigan Bar Exam and must earn a passing score of 135 after the scores of both exam portions have been combined.

Admission by UBE Score Transfer

Effective February 2023, applicants who have earned the minimum passing score requirement for Michigan on a Uniform Bar Exam taken in another jurisdiction within the preceding three years may apply for admission based on that score.

Admission on Motion

You may be admitted on motion to the State Bar of Michigan if you are a member in good standing of another U.S. state or territory provided you have been engaged in the active practice of law for three of the five years preceding application.

What Makes the Michigan Bar Exam Unique?

Until it adopted the UBE in 2022, the Michigan Bar Exam consisted of just two components—the Michigan Subject Essays and the MBE. Starting with the first administration of the UBE in February 2023, the BLE will require all bar examinees and UBE transfer score applicants to successfully complete a Michigan Law Component prior to licensure in Michigan. The Michigan Law Component will require candidates to be educated on six general areas of law that new lawyers are most likely to encounter in their early years of practice in Michigan.

Costs and Fees

In terms of Michigan Bar Exam cost, the Michigan Bar Exam has an application filing fee of $400, which is non-refundable and must be submitted by the deadline. A $100 late fee will be assessed if you submit the fee after the filing deadline. The application fee for admission on motion is $800.

Cost-Saving Options

The pursuit of a legal license can become quite expensive. The good news is that scholarships and grants are available to help with the associated costs of purring a legal education and professional practice.

Many Michigan area organizations, including universities and foundations, offer law students in the region various scholarships and grants to help with legal education and bar exam costs. For example, the Univeristy of Michigan School of Law offers grants and scholarships annually, including both academic and financial considerations.

Michigan State University College of Law also offers various scholarships for area students, which you can check out here: Scholarships & Costs: Michigan State University College of Law. If you are considering pursuing a legal license in Michigan, we strongly encourage you to apply to as many of these scholarships for which you are eligible to help you with your bar.

Final Takeaways

Starting in February 2023, Michigan will administer its first UBE exam, presenting a new challenge for bar examinees seeking licensure in the state. That's why it is critical to start preparing with the right bar prep review that helps you practice with proven MBE Strategies and tactics.

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Michigan Bar Exam FAQs

Judging by the Michigan Bar Exam pass rate from the most recent administration, the Michigan Bar Exam may be as challenging as those administered in other UBE jurisdictions.

Per the most recent published Michigan bar results—July 2021—the Michigan bar exam pass rate for all test-takers was 64%, 75% for first-time, and 23% for repeat test-takers.

The Michigan Bar Exam lasts two days, with the Michigan Subject Essays lasting 6 hours across two 3-hour sessions and the MBE lasting 6 hours in two 3-hour sessions.

Michigan does not have a set limit on the number of times you can take the Michigan Bar Exam, so if you fail the exam the first time, you can revise your strategy to perform better on your next attempt.

Visit https://barreciprocity.com/michigan-bar-reciprocity/ for a complete map of states that have reciprocity with Michigan.

The Michigan Essay Subjects and MBE scores are each weighted at 50% (placed on a common scale), combined, and averaged to determine if an applicant achieved a passing score of 135.

Results are typically released in April or May for the February exam and September or October for the July exam. The Michigan Bar Exam February 2022 results were released on May 12, 2022. The Michigan Bar Exam July 2021 results were released on October 27, 2021.

Yes, as long as they meet all the requirements set forth by Rule 2 of the Michigan Board of Law Examiners.

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