Many Emory Law graduates plan to take the New York bar examination. It is very important to remember that New York has changed the nature of that examination starting this year, July 2016. Please make sure to review ALL of the detailed information posted by the New York Board of Law Examiners: The New York Bar and the Uniform Bar Exam. The online application opens on April 1, one week from today.
Many law students take out a “bar loan” to cover living expenses while they study full time for the bar exam during the summer. Studying full time is highly recommended for first-time success in passing the bar exam, but it can impose financial challenges in addition to study challenges; only you can decide what your individual situation requires, but remember that a conservative estimate of the time it takes to prepare adequately for the bar exam is 600 hours total study, practice and review time. Anything that allows you to make studying your full time job is something to consider. You may also want to check with your Emory University financial aid adviser to see if you have any unused regular student loan eligibility that you could use instead of, or in addition to, a private bar loan. Some students may be able to look to family members for support; if you haven’t had that conversation yet, now is a good time to do that. If you will need to apply for a bar loan, you can do so now, during your last semester.
Four major lenders offer these private loans subject to credit checks: Discover, PNC, Sallie Mae and Wells Fargo. Other lenders may also make such loans and you can research your options. Some basic information is below; please make sure, however, to check directly with the lenders for the most accurate, complete and up-to-date information. Emory Law does not endorse any specific lender. For various loan analysis calculators, you can visit www.finaid.org.
The New York Board of Law Examiners has posted information about new rules and a link to this year’s online bar application which will open on April 1. Click here for details and for all direct, updated information about the New York bar exam.
A number of factors may put you at risk for not passing the bar exam. According to Professors Riebe and Schwartz, in their book “Pass the Bar!”, these include:
- Low LSAT score, low law school GPA or low class rank
- Not taking a bar review course
- Low grades in bar-tested courses, or not having taken them
- Working or other time commitments like caregiving during the weeks before the bar
- Nontraditional student status
- Life crisis or major life event (good or bad) when you are preparing for the bar
- Record of weak test skills, in essay and/or multiple-choice format
- Lack of realistic, effective study and exam-taking strategies
- Excessive fear or anxiety
However, every one of these risk factors can be addressed by taking specific remedial actions, which are listed and discussed in the book. And as the authors note:
Although each of the factors puts students at risk, none of them prevents students from passing. Many students have several of these risk factors yet still pass their bar exams. The factors merely reflect common characteristics of students who have failed in the past. By being aware of the risk factors and acting to minimize their effects, you can increase your likelihood of passing your bar exam.
If one or more of these risk factors applies to you, please make sure to take full advantage of ALL opportunities to do practice questions and attend workshops to learn more and better test-taking strategies for the bar!
Emory Law students who will graduate and take a bar exam this summer should add these dates to their calendars. Make sure to attend one or more of the free MBE workshops (you can go to all three!) and the important meeting with Georgia bar officials on February 29 (see my earlier post for details and advance reading to do). To sign up for an MBE workshop and lunch, go here: Sign-up for MBE Workshops and Lunches.
Mark your calendars now for the following dates:* February 22, 12:15 – 1:45 pm, Tull: Faculty session on Civil Procedure with Professor Rich Freer* February 24, 12:15 – 1:45 pm, Tull: Faculty session on Torts with Professor Frank Vandall* February 26, 1:00 – 4:00 pm, 1D: MBE Workshop Diagnostic Test with BARBRI (follow-up BARBRI Lecture will be in March)* February 27, 9:00 am – 4:00 pm, 1C: MBE Workshop Diagnostic Test and Live Lecture with Themis (lunch provided)* February 29, 12:15 – 1:45 pm, 1E: Bar Exam Introduction AND Review of Georgia Essay Question, by State Bar Officials (lunch provided)* March 14, 12:15 – 1:45 pm, Room TBD: Faculty session on Contracts with Professor Rafael Pardo* March 16, 12:15 – 1:45 pm, Room TBD: Faculty session on Criminal Law & Procedure with Prof. Morgan Cloud* March 18, 11:00 am – 5:00 pm, 1D: MBE Workshop Diagnostic Test and Live Lecture with Kaplan (lunch provided)* March 21, 12:15 – 1:45 pm, Tull: Faculty session on Evidence with Professors Julie Seaman and Mark Goldfeder* March 23, 12:15 – 1:45 pm, Tull: Introduction to Bar Exam Essays and the MPT with Assistant Dean Katherine Brokaw (lunch provided)* March 25, 9:00 – 4:00 pm, 1D: Follow-up MBE Workshop Live Lecture with BARBRI (lunch provided)* March 28, 12:15 – 1:45 pm, Tull: Faculty session on Constitutional Law with Professor Charles Shanor* March 30, 12:15 – 1:45 pm, Tull : Faculty session on Property Law with Professor Jim Hughes
If you are planning to take a bar exam this summer, you should be doing a few things NOW, even before you start a bar review course. Here’s an action checklist for Emory Law students, including in part some of the action items from a book I highly recommend: “Pass the Bar!”, by Denise Riebe and Michael Hunter Schwartz:
- Review the rules of the state where you plan to take the bar. For Georgia, go to the Office of Bar Admissions website, for other states go to their bar websites or start at www.ncbex.org.
- Assess your own risk factors for not passing the bar exam on your first try. “Pass the Bar!” has a great list of risk factors, with suggested solutions for each of them.
- Plan to attend all bar-related presentations and workshops offered at Emory Law this spring! They will include the visit of two bar examiners on February 29 (see last post), as well as “bar readiness” sessions with Emory Law faculty on each of the subjects tested on the MBE, and several full MBE workshops offered by major bar review companies, at no cost to students. Watch “On The Docket”, your email and the electronic boards for dates, times, details.
- Plan your time: review and minimize or delegate as many time commitments as possible. Studying for the bar is a fulltime job.
- Check your finances: plan ahead for living expenses while you study, or look into getting a bar loan.
- Check your academics: compare the subjects tested in your state with your own law school record and decide if there are any subjects you should start studying before a formal bar review course.
- Practice writing essay exam answers, using the practice questions posted on bar websites. They are actual bar exam essay questions and usually include sample answers.
- Look at former MPT questions and answers to make sure you are familiar with the kinds of documents and practical skills you may have to use.
- Get healthy and stay healthy! Wellness matters for success on the bar exam. Figure out now how you will keep stress and fatigue to a manageable level.
- Research your options and register for a bar review course if you haven’t done so. Start using the materials they make available early.
Remember: a conservative estimate of the number of hours it takes to prepare to pass a bar exam on your first try is 600 hours. Use every opportunity this semester to put in some of those hours now.
Three bar officials (and Emory Law alumni) will go over the logistics of the bar exam, and Essay I from the July 2015 Georgia bar exam, with all graduating students who plan to take any bar exam, on Monday, February 29, from 12:15 to 1:45 p.m., in Room 1E. Lunch will be provided. The information is relevant to success on bar examinations generally, so students should attend even if they plan to take the bar in a state other than Georgia.
Essays and sample answers from July 2015 are at Georgia Bar Exam Essays and MPT Questions and Answers. Students should review Essay I in advance, to be familiar with the question and sample answers, so the bar examiners’ explanations will be more meaningful.
Students should also read the following on the Georgia Bar website (scroll down to find them):
Message on Preparing for the Georgia Bar Exam
Tips for Taking the Georgia Bar Examination
How I Successfully Prepared for the Bar Exam