Great Advice From Emory Law Grad!

Christen Morgan, Emory Law 16L

Christen Morgan 16L published a great post last month with some excellent advice for all law students with regard to bar readiness: Three Things I Would Have Done Differently for Bar Prep at The Girl’s Guide to Law School. Her points are valuable for 1Ls, 2Ls, and other continuing students as you consider your course selections for next year; and for 3Ls and soon-to-graduate LLMs as you continue to increase your “bar readiness” this semester and once you start your commercial bar review course for a bar exam this summer.

For more specifics on how you can choose courses to optimize your readiness for success on a bar exam if you will return to law school in the fall, and on how to manage your own bar readiness if you are in your last semester, go to the Office of Academic Engagement & Student Success webpage and click on links for Bar Readiness, Choosing Courses, and Practice-Focused Academic Guidance. Some are behind tabs you will see if you scroll down the page a bit.

If you are wondering about course selection for the fall, you can also come to “Academic Advising in Practice” on Monday, March 26, during the Community Hour, when Jennie Geada Fernandez and I will give an overview and an introduction to resources and strategies for choosing courses, then follow up individually with one of us or with the relevant faculty members for additional guidance. See Monday’s On The Docket for details!

Steven Friedland on Bar Exam Readiness; Bar Examiners’ Visit on March 19

Prof. Steven Friedland, who has published books about bar readiness, has a great article in the current National Jurist: Using The “Four T’s” To Achieve Bar Exam Success. His advice is sound, especially what he says about staying actively engaged in your own learning process, and using active techniques to improve your learning and retention.

Spring break will be a great time to look again at “Pass The Bar!” by Riebe and Schwartz, and see where you stand in terms of their pre-bar checklists, and the bar exam risk factors and remedies they identify. The spring semester will accelerate rapidly once you all return from spring break, and graduation will be upon you faster than you expect (yay!) — then your commercial bar review courses. Please use time to your advantage now, identifying areas that may be a challenge for you on the bar exam so you can address them sooner and more thoroughly, with less pressure.

Please remember that the Director of Bar Admissions for Georgia and one of the Board of Bar Examiners, both alumni of Emory Law, will be at the law school on Monday, March 19, at 12:15 to 1:45 pm. Usually the Bar Examiner asks students to review a specific past essay question in advance, so watch for an email about that and check On The Docket for any other details. You can find past Georgia bar essay and MPT questions, and select answers, here: Georgia Bar Essays and MPT Questions. A light lunch will be served but feel free to bring your own.

Have a great spring break!

More Planning Ahead for Bar Exam: Personal Finances

Prof. Goldie Pritchard has posted excellent advice on the Law School Academic Support blog, about how students who will graduate in May can plan ahead for their personal financial needs during their bar review period through the bar exam in late July. For the best odds of passing the bar the first time, the law school academic support community strongly recommends NOT working between graduation and the bar exam if that is at all feasible. Your fulltime job from May through July should be to pass the licensing exam you must pass in order to start your real career — the bar exam. It is hard work to prepare adequately for it; and the bar has gotten measurably harder in recent years, so ignore well-meaning advice from lawyers who say you can easily work AND prepare for the bar. Prof. Pritchard’s advice is here:

 I offer the following few suggestions for students to consider as they prepare to financially manage their bar exam journey.


(1) What’s my budget and what are my expenses?

• List current monthly/weekly expenses

• Take stock of necessities such as rent, apartment related bills, food, car maintenance and repair, gas, etc.

• Consider all obligations including current debt

• Anticipate Bar Exam related expenses such as Bar application fees (registration, application, character and fitness, fingerprints, criminal history records, driving record, birth certificate, credit reports, laptop fee, notary fee, etc.); MPRE (registration fee and reporting fee); Bar review course and possible supplemental bar review program; Bar exam day accommodations and necessities (hotel for 2 to 3 days; transportation to and from exam by plane, rental car, or personal car; meals and snacks for 2 to 3 days; parking; etc.); and relocation costs after the bar exam

(2) What savings?

I often hear from students: “what can I save? I am barely making it.” In response, I tell them “a dollar or more here and there that is set aside on a regular basis can amount to quite a bit.”

  • Distinguish between what you need, what you want, and what can wait. You might not need to purchase all items immediately. Strictly assess your use of money and leave credit cards alone.


  • Embrace couponing and other cost savings options for groceries and necessities. A few of my students started a couponing group and they have saved and shared items and coupons.  The money saved goes toward they bar exam fund.


  • Bring your lunch and coffee to school. Instead of purchasing food on campus, you could probably save a few dollars that you can set aside.


  • Consider “staycations” for spring break and save your money. When I ask students how much their spring break trips cost, it is often a good chunk of money that could go to their bar review or bar application costs.


  • Save monetary gifts. Birthday money from grandparents, holiday money, graduation money and other such monetary gifts can be set aside for bar exam needs or emergencies.


  • Be specific with those who want to support you. Family and friends are usually elated to hear about individuals graduating from law school and typically want to offer support to you in their own way.  I have had students who were very specific about their requests, asking for monetary support to assist with bar applications, bar review programs and expenses during bar study.  It is often surprising how many persons are willing to assist once they become aware of specific needs.

In addition to the above, you can talk with your student financial aid adviser here at Emory about whether you are eligible to borrow any more in your last semester under government student loan programs. There are also private “bar loans” that a number of students will use; for details, go to the link above under General Information.

Finally, mark your calendars for April 9 from 12-2pm, when student financial services adviser Maria Carthon will speak in Rm. 5B about student loans and the various repayment options available to students (including Income-based Repayment, Consolidation, Public Service Loan Forgiveness, and much more),  details about when repayment begins, what happens if a student goes into repayment but then returns to school, what the latest interest rates are, and more. This session is open to all law students but may be especially helpful for those in their last semester.

Featured image from; copyrighted.

Bar Success Affirmations for Next Week

To our graduates who will take the February bar exam next week: you can do it! Here are some positive affirmations shared by the Law School Academic Support blog:


“I am capable of passing the bar exam because I have done everything necessary and in my power to ensure that result”

“I have been given endless talents which I can utilize to tackle unanticipated subjects on my essays and tasks on the MPT”

“I have a process for tackling MBE questions and when I panic, I will go back to my process”

“I have prepared for whatever comes my way (proctor failing to give 5-minute warning, others getting sick, others discussing issues I did not identify, etc..) on each exam day”

“I will stay away from people who create additional stress until the bar exam is over in order to surround myself with positivity”

“When I panic about my surroundings on exam day, I will remember that I have done this before (completed 200 MBEs in 6 hours) in bar review and get into my zone”

“I am capable, I made it through law school and can make it through this exam”

“I was very focused in my preparation for the bar exam so I am prepared”

“I will turn my nervous feelings into productive and positive energy to maximize my performance on this exam”

“I know most of what I need to know and what I don’t know I have a strategy for”

“Every day I got better at the tasks and will be my best on bar exam days”

“Passing the bar exam is not ACING the bar exam, it is achieving the passing score and I can do that. I reject the spirit of perfectionism”

“I succeed even in stressful situations”

“Today I release my fears and open my mind to new possibilities”

“Whatever I need to learn always comes my way at just the right moment”

We wish you the very best, and success on the bar! You got this!

Bar Examiners’ Visit on March 19 — Save the Date!

If you plan to take any bar exam this summer, but especially the Georgia bar exam, mark your calendars to hear one of the members of the Board of Bar Examiners, who write and grade the bar’s essay questions, talk you through what they expect. This is a useful session to attend even if you will take the bar in a state other than Georgia. Other states do not always provide this kind of access, so this is a unique opportunity to hear in person from a bar examiner generally how to improve your chances of success.

Emory Law alumni John Sammon, who is the Director of the Office of Bar Admissions (and longtime former member and chair of the Board of Bar Examiners) and Henry Bowden, a current bar examiner, will be here on Monday, March 19, during the Community Hour (12-2). Watch your Emory email and On The Docket for more details as the date gets closer, but save that date and time now.

Bar Exam Risk Factors — and Solutions

If you plan to take a bar exam in the coming year, including this summer, you should take some time now to assess yourself and what risk factors you may have that could put you at risk of not passing the bar on your first try. That sounds scary, but 1) there are many ways to address those risk factors, many students have done that successfully to beat the odds; and 2) you have plenty of time between now and the summer to address any risk factors if you start now.

The book I recommend that all students read, ideally starting in the summer after their 2L year, is “Pass the Bar!” by Denise Riebe and Michael Hunter Schwartz. Here is a chart for self-assessment based on their list of risk factors and solutions:


Take a few minutes to read it over and ask yourself if any apply to you — they DO apply even to Emory Law students — then keep reading to find out how to neutralize them! Look for and attend our ongoing programs this semester that will help you ease into bar readiness. And feel free to visit with Dean Brokaw or Jennie Geada Fernandez to discuss how you can optimize your chances of success, starting with the MBE diagnostic exams and workshops we will hold starting this Saturday. If you are a graduating student, check your email or On The Docket for info and a registration link. The bar exam is not an aptitude test; it is an ATTITUDE test — you achieve success based on the effort you invest. Sweat equity. And that’s good news, because success is within reach of you all if you make the right choices. We’re here to help.

Happy New Year! Bar Readiness in 2018

Welcome back, Emory Law — except for this week’s snow days. As long as you don’t have school today or tomorrow, now is a great time to plan how you will use this semester to get ready for this summer’s bar exam and getting the most out of your commercial bar review course.

First, financial matters. Many students take out a “bar loan”, so they can focus on bar review after graduation and not work. For more information about this, go here. Bar loans are direct loans from a private lender to a student and are not part of the regular student loan process. However, if you have any unused eligibility for federal student loans left this semester, you may want to ask your assigned campus financial aid adviser whether it is possible for you to increase your loan.

Next, test readiness. On January 27 and on February 3, we will offer an MBE diagnostic exam and workshop to all graduating JD students. These will be provided by commercial bar review vendors, at no cost to you. Watch your email for more details and a wufoo form for registration. They will start at 9, with a morning diagnostic MBE exam of 100 questions, short lunch break (lunch will be provided for those who register), and an afternoon workshop to go over correct answers and the strategies to use to answer MBE questions correctly. We strongly advise all students to take advantage of this, as it will allow you to assess how much you do or don’t recall in the seven subject areas covered by the MBE, most of which you took in your first year. This will in turn allow you to start reviewing fundamental concepts in the subjects where you may be weaker, so you are better prepared to make the most of your post-graduation commercial course. It will also allow you to start making good use of practice MBE questions NOW and throughout this semester. We recommend doing as many as 2000 practice MBE questions between now and the real bar exam, as we know that results in a better chance of passing the bar first time. If you start in January or February, and spread out the work, it will be much easier to reach that target.

The book “Pass The Bar!” has another checklist that is relevant RIGHT NOW: 4-6 months before graduation and the start of your commercial bar prep course. If you own that book, take it out and re-read the checklists. If you don’t own it yet, consider buying it soon; it is easily available online.

Stay warm!

Information session with bar officials TOMORROW, 9/6/17

If you will graduate this year and expect to take the bar exam in Georgia, come learn about the “character and fitness” application process directly from the Director of Admissions for the State Bar of Georgia, Mr. John Sammon. He and other bar staff will explain the process, which you do for Georgia in your fall semester and submit by the start of December. The information is generally relevant to most states’ character and fitness processes, so come even if you plan to sit for the bar in another state. The program starts at 12:15 pm in Rm. 1E; pizza and soft drinks will be served and you are welcome to bring your own lunch too if you wish.

Guest Post: Bar Readiness, Starting NOW!

Dear students: below is a guest post from Tanisha Pinkins 16L, who successfully took and passed the bar exam on her first try and who has been working with the Office of Academic Engagement and Student Success to help other students, before starting her fulltime law job next week!

Congratulations, you made it past your first or second year of law school!
Now is a great time for you and your classmates to start thinking ahead to what you can do over this academic year to maximize your probability of success when you take the bar exam for the first time.
One important consideration that students may overlook is the selection of your 2L or 3L class schedule. With the drop/add deadline quickly approaching, on August 28th at 11:59 pm, now is the time to take another look at your course selections. Be sure to double check the final exam schedule to balance the times and number of days between your final exams.
To increase your chances of success and reduce the stress of bar review, I encourage you all to take at least one upper-level course tested on the bar exam each semester.  I heard it all the time as well: “You don’t need to take bar classes during law school, you can learn it during bar review.” While that is true for some topics, remember that bar review is a review course, not a learn-it-all-for-the-first-time course. I took a few upper-level bar review courses during law school and it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The volume of material you’ll need to cover during bar prep is massive and overwhelming. Having covered topics such as Business Associations and Trust & Estates in law school definitely made covering those topics during bar review a less stressful experience.
Here’s a list of some of the upper-level courses Emory offers that are tested on the bar exam. Be sure to check the website of the State Bar examination you plan to take, to see what subjects can be tested, prior to choosing a course:  Business Associations, Trust & Estates, Conflict of Laws, Complex Litigation, Commercial Law, Family Law, Real Estate Finance & Secured Transactions. For more details and information, go to the Office of Academic Engagement and Student Success website and scroll down to the tab for Bar Readiness. For information about choosing specific courses that relate to particular practice areas, go to the Practice Societies webpage and click on the box for Practice-Focused Academic Guidance (use your Emory log-in).
A quick reminder of important deadlines approaching.
Drop/Add deadline– August 28, 2017 at 11:59 pm 
Pass/Fail deadline– November 1st & 21st 
I wish you all the best of luck this year.  Warm regards,
Tanisha Pinkins, 16L