7, 13, or 16 Weeks To Go?

Like so many things this summer, bar readiness is confusing right now. You know it’s essential to plan ahead and stay focused on studying for the bar exam, but how to do that when 1) important public events are deeply disturbing and distracting; and 2) for the first time any of us can remember, there are at least three four different scheduled bar exam dates already; and 3) who knows what more might change? (Just as I published this post, the District of Columbia announced it was canceling its September bar exam date and would give a remote exam in October that would not provide a transferable score).

First, the crucial public events and protests. Many of you may have taken part already, more may take part in coming weeks. Please remember that you are already uniquely equipped to fight for justice, if you’re studying for a bar exam: you have a law degree. Only about .5% of the adult US population has that education. Meaning only about .5% of the adult US population has that kind of power to effect change through our legal system. To wield that power, you have to pass the bar. So your success this summer or fall on the bar exam may be one of the most valuable contributions you can make, long-term.

Second, whether you will take a bar exam in late July, early September, or late September, here are some things to keep in mind, at this point in the summer:

Here again is a recording of the MBE Overview program Professor Rich Freer did for us last year: MBE Overview-Prof. Freer 1-30-19. It’s a good reminder right now, as you continue to work in your commercial bar review courses, of his excellent advice. The MBE Subject Matter Powerpoint shown onscreen in this recording is also available on this blog, under Online Learning Resources (above), with the other MBE Subject Matter outline Powerpoints I created for these faculty-led sessions. They are drawn directly from the MBE Subject Matter Outline document on the website of the National Conference of Bar Examiners.

If you will take a bar in July, you now have seven weeks until the bar exam. It may be helpful to look again at those outlines occasionally, to see how the sub-topics within each major subject on the MBE relate to each other, while you continue to do practice MBE questions regularly in sets to test your knowledge. Don’t freak out if your results look worse when you do “mixed sets” of questions in different subject areas, as opposed to “blocks” of questions in one subject like Torts, or Contracts. That is normal, and part of the learning process! Don’t give up on doing the mixed sets — push through the challenge and keep doing them, knowing that you probably won’t score high for a while. Mixed question sets are a very effective way for most students to learn material, especially for an exam like the MBE where you won’t know what subject a given question is testing until you try to answer it. Doing them over an extended period of time, instead of cramming all the practice in at the end of your bar study, is also an effective learning strategy.

If you will take a bar in September, you have the opportunity to spread out practice questions even more, and use principles of “spaced repetition.” As we said two weeks ago in our first online “Bar Study Hall”, it is critical to be using this time wisely, and you should have in place now a written plan for how your personal study schedule will proceed, all summer. Use the gift of extra weeks to do more practice questions and better self-assessment on all parts of the bar exam: MBE, MPT, and essays.

Forced retrieval”, which is what you are doing when you give yourself practice questions and tests, is a highly effective learning technique. Remember that it’s not the initial results you get that matter, no one else is watching! What matters is the process of making yourself answer questions, over and over, and then reviewing your results to understand what you got wrong and how to answer correctly next time. Active learning, retrieval and practice always win over passive “recognition” (re-reading and re-watching material you’ve seen before, without then testing yourself on it). It is well-established that adult learners learn best when their activities are “meaningful, active, motivating, and significant.” Your effort to pass the bar is meaningful and significant, to yourself and to others. Keep it active and stay motivated!

Third, no one knows for sure what this summer may bring in terms of COVID-19. That’s just the reality of life right now, including for the jurisdictions and public officials who administer bar exams. So while it really is essential to have a written personal study plan and schedule, write it in pencil. You might have to change it because of personal circumstances unique to you, or because the jurisdiction where you plan to take the exam has had to change something. Stay up-to-date on your jurisdiction; the National Conference of Bar Examiners updates its summary of jurisdiction information at least weekly, if not more often.

Finally, keep taking good care of yourself. The ABA has provided some great online resources, including this video/audio recording: “Self-Care and Mindfulness in the Age of COVID-19.” The ABA Law Student Division also has lots of good resources and guidance for tackling the project of studying for the bar exam.

It has been a very challenging spring and this summer promises more challenges. Try to remember how important your ultimate goal is, for you and for others, and keep your eyes on that prize — a license to practice law. Stay safe, and stay well!

Featured image from www.law.com.

New York Bar Gives Priority to New York Law Schools

The New York Board of Law Examiners announced last night that its bar application and registration process will now give priority to applicants from the law schools located in New York:

Our efforts to seat as many candidates as possible remain ongoing. To that end, the Board of Law Examiners has been in contact with representatives of New York’s fifteen law schools, who have generously offered their facilities to accommodate test-takers. We remain hopeful that, with the assistance of these valued partners, it will be possible to administer the September exam in a safe and responsible manner.

However, given current conditions in New York – including ongoing public health concerns, social distancing guidelines, and limitations on large gatherings – it is clear that our seating capacity for the September exam will be sharply limited, and therefore the Board likely will not be able to seat all applicants who wish to take the exam. As a result, the application process for the September exam will proceed on a rolling basis as space permits. From Tuesday, May 5, 2020 at 12:00 A.M. through Friday, May 15 at 11:59 P.M., applications will be accepted from any J.D. or LL.M. candidate who is sitting for the bar examination for the first time and who has graduated (or will graduate in Spring 2020) from one of the fifteen law schools located in New York State: Albany Law School, Brooklyn Law School, University at Buffalo School of Law, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Columbia Law School, CUNY School of Law, Cornell Law School, Fordham University School of Law, Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University, New York Law School, New York University School of Law, Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University, St. John’s University School of Law, Syracuse University College of Law, or Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center. Registration will remain open for the duration of the May 5 to May 15 application period and priority will not be given based on the date a candidate registers within that period.At the close of the first application period, the Board will assess available seating in light of existing health and safety guidance. If seating remains available, the Board will then open the application period to a larger pool of candidates.

Given the constraints caused by the public health crisis, candidates are strongly encouraged to consider sitting for the UBE at a later date or in other jurisdictions that may be better positioned to accommodate test-takers. While our efforts to maximize seating are ongoing, the health and safety of all participants must remain our top priority.

Please continue to monitor this website for updates.

If this leaves you wondering where to take a bar exam instead of New York, you can consider taking it in other UBE jurisdictions, some of which offer “courtesy seating” for bar takers who won’t be applying for admission to that state’s bar. The NCBE Bar Admission Guide has a list of those states that was up to date at the time of publication several months ago. Given the rapid changes in jurisdictional processes recently, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is vitally important that you check on a jurisdiction’s official bar website as to whether that option is still open and how to apply for it. The NCBE is also posting jurisdictional updates here: NCBE COVID-19 Updates. This blog is not designed to keep up with such rapid changes and does not purport to address all 50+ bar jurisdictions.

If you have a job offer that you have accepted or will accept, it is suggested that you contact that employer and ask if the employer has a preference for any particular alternative jurisdiction if you are unable to register for your first choice, presumably the jurisdiction where the employer is located.

California, Pennsylvania, D.C Bar Exams Postponed; New York Changes Requirements

More states announced changes to their bar exams and processes this week. California and Pennsylvania have canceled administration of their July 2020 bar exam and will administer it in September instead. The California announcement may be read here: California Supreme Court Bar Exam Letter. The announcement of the Pennsylvania Board of Bar Examiners, with links to other documents and including an announcement of a limited license to practice law for July 2020 bar applicants, is here: Pennsylvania Board of Bar Examiners.

The District of Columbia has cancelled its July 2020 bar exam but has not yet announced a rescheduled date. Its announcement can be read here: District of Columbia Court of Appeals Order.

The New York Board of Law Examiners, which had previously announced the rescheduling of its July 2020 bar exam to September of 2020, has changed or waived a number of its requirements, which are detailed here, also with links to the relevant official documents: New York Board of Law Examiners. As with all information from bar admissions offices, please read the information they provide with great care, and follow up directly with them, via your applicant portal or file analyst, if you have specific questions, as only those offices can give you accurate and authoritative answers.

It goes without saying that this is a rapidly changing situation, and bar jurisdictions are updating their decisions, deadlines and processes almost every day. The National Conference of Bar Examiners updates July 2020 Jurisdiction Information frequently; check that here. This blog will not cover all changes to all jurisdictions. Always check at www.ncbex.org and then at a specific bar jurisdiction’s official website for the most accurate, updated and authoritative information.

Georgia Bar Exam Delayed to September

The Supreme Court of Georgia announced today in a press release that the July 2020 bar exam in Georgia has been postponed to September 9 and 10, 2020, and that it will temporarily allow provisional admission to practice of law graduates within certain limitations: Supreme Court of Georgia Order. Georgia’s Office of Bar Admissions has posted a special FAQ page for questions about these new rules: GA Bar COVID-19 FAQ. Please read this new information carefully, as it has very specific details, together with the other bar examination information posted on the Bar Admissions website. If you are a current applicant to take the Georgia bar exam, make sure to check your applicant portal often for all communications.

It goes without saying that this is a rapidly changing situation, and bar jurisdictions are updating their decisions, deadlines and processes almost every day. The National Conference of Bar Examiners updates July 2020 Jurisdiction Information frequently; check that here. This blog will not cover all changes to all jurisdictions. Always check at www.ncbex.org and then at a specific bar jurisdiction’s official website for the most accurate, updated and authoritative information.

Info Session on the Bar Exam

Come find out everything you always wanted to know about the bar exam but might have been afraid to ask! (Don’t be afraid — be informed!). On Monday, March 16, 2020, the Director of Bar Admissions for the State Bar of Georgia and one of the Bar Examiners (the people who write and grade bar essay questions) will visit Emory Law to give an overview of the bar exam and answer students’ questions. Much of the information will be relevant to jurisdictions other than Georgia. Join the Office of Academic Engagement & Student Success from 12:15-1:45 pm in Rm. 1E, on March 16. Reminders will be in On The Docket.

Remember also to keep track of deadlines for the jurisdiction wherever you plan to take the bar; always check directly on that jurisdiction’s own official bar admissions website. You can get to that through the website of the National Conference of Bar Examiners.

Pizza will be served during the March 16 info session; feel free to bring your beverages and your questions!

Important New Information about the MPRE

NCBE wants all prospective MPRE candidates to know about some important changes for the 2020 MPRE:

  1. The test will be administered on Thursday, March 12, and Friday, March 13, 2020. The MPRE is no longer administered during a single two-hour period on Saturday. Instead, students will select one of several two-hour appointment times on one of the two weekday test dates. There will also be weekday administrations for the August and October MPRE administrations.
  2. The test will be administered on a computer at a Pearson VUE testing center. This is a new location compared to past administrations. Students will select a testing center when they schedule their test appointment.
  3. The registration deadline is February 12, 2020. There is no late registration deadline. The earlier students register with NCBE and schedule their appointment with Pearson VUE, the more likely they will be to get an appointment with their desired location, date, and test time.
  4. If students plan to test in March and will be seeking accommodations under the ADA, they should apply for accommodations as soon as possible to allow us time to review their application. Those applying for accommodations should check their NCBE File Cabinets frequently for updates on their accommodations applications.

Any questions should be directed to NCBE at 608.280.8550 or by email to mpreregistration [at] ncbex [dot] org (for questions about registration) or mpre [dot] ada [at] ncbex [dot] org (for questions about accommodations).

Congratulations!

Congratulations to all Emory Law grads who took any state’s bar exam in July and who have been told you passed! Most of the results have now been released, including New York and Florida, and Georgia (today); we are very proud of you. It’s a big achievement and one that is not easy to accomplish, as you know after many months of study and weeks of review courses, plus thousands of practice questions. You’ve earned the right to pat yourselves on the back!

If you want to be sworn into the Georgia Bar with your classmates on November 14, at the annual ceremony hosted here by our alumni relations team, please RSVP at this link, where you will also find more details about the event: RSVP for Swearing-In Ceremony.

If you took the exam and did not pass this time, please feel free to contact me or Rhani Lott 10L if you’d like to talk about trying a different approach or using different materials, including the ones listed elsewhere on this blog. If you will be in Atlanta studying to re-take a bar exam in February, you are welcome to come back to study in the MacMillan Law Library and/or take part in any of our spring semester programming. We have faith in you, and we want to help you cross that finish line.

Best wishes to all of you!

Save the Date — Info Session with Bar Examiner and Director of Bar Admissions; Deadlines

Emory Law Bar Readiness State Bar Georgia

If you will graduate in May and take a bar exam in July, mark your calendar for March 27, when the Georgia Office of Bar Admissions will return for its annual spring visit. Unlike the fall visit, when the director of bar admissions speaks to students mostly about the character and fitness process, the spring visit includes one of the actual bar examiners, the lawyers who write and grade the essay questions on the Georgia bar. The presentation will be on March 27, from 12:15-1:45 pm, in Rm. 1E.

This session will be useful even if you plan to take the bar exam in a different state, as the director of bar admissions will speak generally about things like the MBE (Multistate Bar Exam) and MPT (Multistate Performance Test), which are included on the Georgia bar exam and most other states’ bar exams. She will also go into detail about the Georgia bar exam, so if you plan to take that, don’t miss this session. Also, if you have individual concerns or questions about the character and fitness review process, she normally makes herself available for private conversations with students after the main session.

Please visit www.gabaradmissions.org for detailed information, and remember to keep checking your bar applicant portal for any communications from the Office of Bar Admissions. You don’t want to miss any questions or deadlines from them, as they will strictly enforce all policies and deadlines. The very last deadline for submitting a character and fitness application for the July 2019 Georgia Bar is March 6, 2019. Review all Georgia deadlines here: Georgia Bar Admissions Deadlines and Fees.

If you will take the Uniform Bar Examination or another state’s bar exam, make sure you are tracking and meeting all relevant deadlines and requirements. You can review those at the website of the National Conference of Bar Examiners, www.ncbex.org, in the Comprehensive Guide to Bar Admission Requirements. NOTE: “The information in this publication is correct as submitted to NCBE by contributing jurisdictions at the time of publication. It should be used only as a general guide. Since jurisdiction rules and policies change, NCBE strongly advises consulting the jurisdiction’s bar admission agency directly for the most current information.”

Help for DC Bar Applicants!

If you were planning to take the February bar exam in the District of Columbia, which has been affected by the recent federal government shutdown, other jurisdictions (some UBE, some non-UBE) are offering a window of opportunity for DC bar applicants to register with them instead, and have extended their application deadlines. Missouri, New York, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee are among them.

Please check directly with the bar admissions office of any state where you think you might take the bar exam in place of the District of Columbia to determine whether this is an option for you. Some of the registration windows, such as Pennsylvania’s, are time-limited, so check ASAP.

UPDATE: The DC Bar has announced that the DC bar exam will go forward as scheduled in February:

In light of the recent announcement concerning a temporary end to the government shutdown, we’re pleased to report that the District of Columbia Court of Appeals has determined that the February 2019 bar exam will be administered in the District of Columbia! Please be advised that the District of Columbia Bar has expressed a commitment to ensure that the February 2019 bar exam goes forward in the event of any future government shutdown beyond February 15, 2019.

We apologize for the added stress and uncertainty that the government shutdown has caused; but we are pleased to be able to process your applications to sit for the February 2019 bar exam, and wish you success on the exam.

We expect that our Office of the Committee on Admissions will be reopened on Monday, January 28, 2019. Any follow-on inquiries can be directed to coa [at] dcappeals [dot] gov.

Happy New Year! Bar Readiness 2019

Welcome back to all Emory Law students, but a special welcome back to you who will be taking a bar exam soon! We have a busy schedule of programs every spring semester to help you get ready to get the most out of the commercial bar review courses you will likely take after graduation, so please look out for announcements in On The Docket and in flyers on the electronic bulletin boards. You can also subscribe to this blog to get an email when there is a new post.

We will kick off our annual spring semester series of in-house “bar readiness” programs in late January, but you should take some steps now, before our first program (which will be on January 28, at lunchtime). That will be a Q&A session with Jennie Geada Fernandez about the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam, or MPRE. We will then start a series of “MBE Overview” sessions, led by our own faculty, with Prof. Rich Freer walking you through the topics that can be tested under Civil Procedure, on 1/30, during the community hour. Save the dates! And watch On The Docket for details about location, etc.

1) Inform yourself about the requirements and testing for admission to the bar where you hope to be admitted. Every state has its own bar admissions rules and office, and you MUST comply with that state’s requirements. You can view them in detail at the website for the National Conference of Bar Examiners, www.ncbex.org. We strongly advise you to bookmark that site, as well as the official bar admissions site for your chosen jurisdiction. If there is any contradiction between the information provided, it is the state’s official bar admissions website and rules that will supersede any other guidance, so you need to read those carefully. NCBEX writes and scores tests such as the Multistate Bar Exam (“MBE”), the Multistate Performance Test (“MPT”), the Multistate Essay Exam (“MEE”), and the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (“MPRE”). The last, the MPRE, is given three times a year, separately from the rest of the “bar exam.” Not all states administer all three standardized tests that are given together (the MBE, the MPT, and the MEE). For instance, the state of Georgia writes and grades its own state-specific essay questions, instead of the MEE. States that DO give all three standardized components are giving a “Uniform Bar Exam”, or UBE. You should educate yourself about that at the NCBEX website.

2) We recommend the book “Pass the Bar!” by Riebe and Schwartz. Although some of its information is out of date, such as the exact coverage and breakdown of the MBE, it remains one of the most useful bar readiness books available, since it includes action checklists and various charts to help you keep track of what you are doing to prepare, in addition to sensible, humane, time-tested advice for success on the bar exam. You can see a copy in the law library if you want to take a look at it before you decide whether to get your own copy.

3) The law school will provide at least two MBE Workshops this spring, at no added cost to you. The first one will be on February 9, from 10 am – 4 pm, and will be given by Kaplan. Watch On The Docket for more details and information about how to sign up. These workshops involve you doing a number of practice MBE questions, and then a professional bar lecturer explaining those questions and answers, and the strategies for doing well on the MBE.

4) If you haven’t yet signed up with a commercial bar review course, you should get that done before the end of this month. We don’t endorse any course over another and we suggest that you use the tools in “Pass the Bar!” to make an individual assessment as to which course is right for you. However, NOT taking a strong commercial bar review course is a known risk factor for failing the bar on the first attempt, and no one wants that to happen to you. Find the course you want, and sign up for it now! Most will offer you some “early start” materials, and working on those between now and May will likely reduce the time pressure and resulting stress you may feel during the intensive bar study period after graduation.

5) Plan a “bar vacation” for AFTER the bar exam! It’s fine to take a short week off after graduation before your commercial course class sessions start, but save the long vacations for August, after you’ve taken the bar. Your fulltime job between graduation and the end of July is to prepare for, take, and pass the bar exam. You’ll enjoy your vacation so much more once that is over!

Again, welcome back, and happy 2019! We look forward to helping you get ready for graduation and the bar exam.

Emory Law Commencement 2016 led by Professor Richard Freer, by Frank Chen.
Commencement 2016; photo by Frank Chen.