How to write MPT memos

I came across this helpful advice on how to format your MPT memos, provided by BarWriteBlog. Even though my problem is the MBE, I don’t plan to neglect my essay and MPT studying. I’d shoot myself if I got a great score on the MBE next time but a crappy score on the essay/MPT, and failed AGAIN.

How to Format Legal Memos on the MPT for Higher Bar Exam Scores:


To: Bar Candidates

From: Mary Campbell Gallagher, J.D., Ph.D., President,
BarWrite® and BarWrite Press

Re: How to Format a Legal Memorandum on the MPT (Revised 4/2/07)

Date: April 2, 2007


The Multistate Performance Test (MPT) allows bar candidates an extremely short time in which to research and write a legal memorandum, only 90 minutes. This memorandum will help you to use correct memo format, organize your memo, write powerful topic headings, finish on time, and earn a high score. We do not deal here with other important aspects of your legal memorandum on the MPT, including persuasive writing, argument from supportive law, distinction of or attack against unfavorable law, and skillful use of the facts. To do your best persuasive writing on the MPT, we recommend using the BarWrite® systems that are taught in the book and CDs Scoring High on Bar Exam Essays, the Under-Here-Therefore(TM) systems for the paragraph, for outlining, and for legal analysis.


To score high on a legal memorandum on the MPT, use the memo format the MPT asks for.

Using the memorandum format correctly is key on the MPT. The MPT point sheets indicate that the graders award points for the following:

(a) powerful topic headings,
(b) persuasive writing,
(c) argument from supportive law,
(d) distinction of–or attack against–unfavorable law,
(e) skillful use of the facts, and
(f) careful use of the memo format.

Note that the bar candidate is being graded on “careful use of the memo format.”

In your Legal Writing course, you probably learned a format for the legal memorandum something like this:

(A.) Heading;
(B.) Issue(s);
(C.) Brief Answer;
(D.) Facts;
(E.) Discussion; and
(F.) Conclusion.

The MPT, by contrast, usually asks the candidate to use the following radically simplified format:

(A.) Heading
(B.) Introduction;
(C.) Discussion;
(D.) Conclusion.

The format on the MPT is so abbreviated that your knowledge of correct format will stand out. While these are the usual four parts of the legal memorandum on the MPT, incidentally, nothing requires MPT tasks to have identical formats. Read the directions in the supervising attorney’s memo with care.

Usually, however, there is no section in the memo for a Statement of Facts, no section for Issues, no section for Brief Answers. The memo on the MPT is short, short, short. It contains just a Heading and Introduction, a Discussion, and a Conclusion. We treat the Discussion in the next section and then return to the Heading, Introduction and Conclusion.

The supervising attorney memorandum will help you structure the central segment of your memorandum, called the Discussion, and divide it into sections.

One function of the MPT supervising attorney memo is always to help you to structure your work product. That holds true where the MPT task is to write a legal memorandum. In the MPT case called In re Steven Wallace, for example, the supervising attorney memo asks the bar candidate to write a two-part legal memorandum. That is, the Discussion section of the memo will have two main parts.

The supervising attorney memo specifies that in the first part of the Discussion the bar candidate will explain the legal and factual bases for the trustee in bankruptcy’s position that the client’s painting is part of a gallery owner’s estate in bankruptcy. In the second part, the bar candidate will examine in turn each of the statutory exceptions to the state bankruptcy law, seeking to put together a factual argument that the client’s painting is not part of the estate in bankruptcy.

When the supervising attorney memo tells you to do two things in your memo, you should divide your Discussion into those two main parts.

Powerful topic headings are a key part of the Discussion section of your legal memorandum.

After you have written each section of your Discussion, give it a powerful topic heading. Underline every topic heading. For example:

Under FCC sec. 2-326(3), Charles Client’s strongest argument in support of arbitration is that the contract he entered into with Bee Brokerage required “alternative dispute resolution.”

The topic headings guide the reader through the argument of the memorandum. They are signposts to your argument.

In writing your legal memorandum on the MPT, leave the first page and the last page blank, write the whole Discussion, and then go back and fill in the Heading and the Introduction on the first page and add the Conclusion at the end.

Leave the first page of your blue book blank. The last things you will write in your blue book are (i) the Heading and the Introduction for the MPT memorandum, at the beginning of the memo, and (ii) the Conclusion at the end.

In the order of writing the legal memorandum, again, you should leave the first page of the bluebook blank. If you have left the first page of the bluebook blank, then after writing the Discussion, that is, the body of the memo, you can go back to the first page of the bluebook and write the Heading for the memo and the Introduction.

Here is how to do the Heading for your memorandum. Almost at the top of the first page you should put in all capital letters, centered, printed, and underlined: MEMORANDUM.

Flush with the lefthand margin you will list the recipient’s name, the writer’s name, the subject, and the date:

To: Pat Partner

From: Candidate

Re: Charles Client – Arbitration of Securities Claims

Date: April 2, 2007

Only after you have finished your Discussion, that is, will you write your Introduction. The Introduction to your memorandum will say what the partner memo asked you to do, and it will report that you have done it.

Finally, when the Heading, the Introduction, and the Discussion are finished, you will add the Conclusion at the end. The Conclusion will restate what the partner memo asked you to do and state that you have done it. It will restate your conclusion and argument in one or two sentences.


A bar candidate can produce an MPT memorandum that will maximize his or her score by using the correct memo format, hitting the main points in the assignment, and managing time. Again, the bar examiners say that they are looking for:

(a) powerful topic headings,
(b) persuasive writing,
(c) argument from supportive law,
(d) distinction of–or attack against–unfavorable law,
(e) skillful use of the facts, and
(f) careful use of the memo format.

Follow the directions in the partner memo, hit the main points, manage your time, combine attention to these aspects of your work with careful attention to the BarWrite® systems for persuasive writing, and you can get a high score on a legal memorandum on the MPT.


2 thoughts on “How to write MPT memos

  1. Today, while I was at work, my sister stole my apple ipad and
    tested to see if it can survive a thirty foot drop, just so she can be
    a youtube sensation. My iPad is now destroyed and she has 83 views.

    I know this is entirely off topic but I had to share it with someone!

  2. First off I want to say fantastic blog! I
    had a quick question which I’d like to ask if you do not mind.
    I was interested to find out how you center yourself and clear your thoughts prior to writing.
    I’ve had a tough time clearing my thoughts in getting my ideas out there.
    I do take pleasure in writing however it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes tend to be lost just trying to figure
    out how to begin. Any suggestions or tips? Appreciate it!

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