Now that final exams have been over for a week, it’s time to talk about The Big One: the bar exam. Before you run screaming into the night — stop! By thinking about it now and doing some planning, you will take a lot of stress off yourself and improve your chances for success the first time you take one. First, let’s dispel some urban myths. Yes, it is possible to fail the bar even if you did very well on your LSAT. No, it is not a good idea to work while you study for the bar exam to pursue a job, because if you fail the bar, that job isn’t going to be yours anyway. Yes, you can pass even if you had a low LSAT and law school GPA, as long as you put in the time and do 85% or more of your bar review course. No, there are no shortcuts. Preparing for the bar exam is hard work, a fulltime job, and it take at least 600 hours.
You heard that right. 600 hours. So if you do nothing until the week after graduation (Emory’s Commencement is on May 9), you have 11 weeks to put in at least 600 hours. That’s about 55 hours/week. Fulltime job hours. Lawyer hours.
Here’s the good news: you can start putting in some of those hours now, and during the spring semester, to lighten that load. If you haven’t chosen a commercial bar review course yet, now is a good time to research your options and commit (check out the Resources link on this blog, to start). Ask the vendors questions to make sure their course is a good fit for you. Once you’ve made a deposit with any of the major vendors, you get access to lots of useful study and review materials. Take a look at the bar admissions website for the state where you think you will take the bar. They post old essay and MPT questions, with model/sample answers. You can self-test on your own and identify any weak areas, or subjects you’ve just forgotten, then use the commercial bar review study materials to brush up on your memory or understanding.
The National Conference of Bar Examiners posts old questions online at www.ncbex.org. It also posts an outline of the subject matter tested on the MBE, and other materials about its tests (MBE, MEE, MPRE, MPT, UBE). Look them over! We’ll repeat last spring’s faculty-led bar readiness presentations on all the MBE topic areas, with some additional presentations. And I highly recommend buying a copy of “Pass the Bar!”, by Denise Riebe and Michael Hunter Schwartz. It’s available on Amazon and you can even get it on Kindle.
Have a wonderful break, use some of that time to take stock of your bar readiness and plans, and we’ll see you in January!