Congratulations to February Bar Takers!

By the end of today, all of our February bar exam takers will be done, no matter where they took it! Congratulations on finishing, I know you are so relieved and are looking forward to getting some rest. We are hoping for the best for all of you!

State Bars Ban New MacBooks

The Georgia Bar and several other jurisdictions have banned the new Mac laptops with Touch Bars from the exam. See the language in red on the linked PDF: https://www.gabaradmissions.org/laptop-testing-procedures . Please make sure you review carefully the rules for your specific bar jurisdiction and check back regularly, as this issue is likely to be addressed by more states between now and the February or July bar exam administrations. You can be denied entry to take the bar exam or removed from the bar exam if you violate any of these rules, so you must be very careful to know them and comply with them.

Happy New Year! Bar Readiness in 2017

Will you graduate this May? Do you plan to take a bar exam this summer? If so, now is the best possible time for you to focus on getting ready to pass the bar the first time you take it, if you haven’t started already. Time after time, we see that the law students who start planning for the bar early in their 3L year have a much higher chance of passing the first time. In January, you have plenty of time to diagnose any weaknesses you might have and work over time to address them. Many law students have factors that put them at risk of not passing the bar first time — but virtually all of those factors can be readily addressed if given time and attention.

As we did last year, Emory Law is offering all our students who will graduate this spring the opportunity to gain some of those insights by taking an MBE diagnostic test of 100 practice questions with a follow-up workshop to discuss correct and incorrect answers, and the strategies to achieve your best scores. They will take place in January and February; the first one is on January 20. Students can sign up HERE for 1, 2 or all 3 of them! Last year, many students took all three and got great results on last summer’s bar exam. We are very happy to be able to offer the same opportunities again this year!

What I Did During Winter Vacation — To Get Ready For the Bar

Dear graduating students: I like the sound of that, don’t you? I hope you are all enjoying a well-earned break and the holidays! One thing you can do over the winter break that will relieve stress for you when you return is to start your personal “bar readiness” planning.
If you haven’t yet signed up for a bar review course, you should do that ASAP. A great guide to choosing which course, and getting ready generally, is “Pass the Bar!”, by Riebe and Schwartz; they have created helpful “action checklists” and the first one is relevant right now, as it suggests actions to take 6-12 months before your commercial bar review course starts. If you are unsure about which state to choose because of job uncertainty and therefore delayed choosing a course and getting ready, I advise choosing a UBE jurisdiction. The Uniform Bar Examination is now required in more than half of all US jurisdictions, including two of our top four job markets, DC and New York, and the score is portable. You can find out more about that and the subjects tested at www.ncbex.org. If you commit to a course soon, you can start using review and practice materials now, before time pressure kicks in. Check with the course provider to make sure you can switch to a different state course if you need to.
If you haven’t yet subscribed to this blog, Emory Law Bar Readiness, I encourage you to do that now. We will be doing a lot of bar readiness programs for you in the spring semester, including MBE diagnostic exams, MBE Overview sessions, etc. Watch for details here, as well as in On The Docket as soon as you return in January. Please don’t be swayed by lawyer friends who took the bar more than a couple of years ago! Many will tell you that you don’t need to work that hard. The MBE has gotten harder and has added topics since most current lawyers took the bar exam. It has been changed in some ways that I think are unpredictable; the only safe way to give yourself the best chance to pass first time is to over-study and start early.
Enjoy your break — and give yourself a break, by thinking about the bar now instead of later!

Bar Deadlines Approaching!

If you plan to take the bar exam in Georgia, remember that you must first file a Character and Fitness application and be certified through that process before you can sign up for the bar exam itself. In Georgia, the deadline to do that without a late fee penalty is in early December; the exact date changes from year to year, and you will find it here: Georgia Office of Bar Admissions. Bar deadlines are strict and include details such as: in Georgia, all materials and payments must be received IN THE OFFICE BY 4 P.M. on the deadline date, as the director of bar admissions explained when she spoke here in September: Georgia Bar Admissions Info Session.

If you plan to take the bar exam in a different state, go to the National Conference of Bar Examiners website and look up bar deadlines and requirements for that specific state. In some states, you register for and take the exam first, then you apply for Character and Fitness certification. You are expected to know the relevant deadlines and meet them.

Bar-related information was placed in all 3Ls’ mail files at the start of the semester. If you haven’t looked at it yet, now would be a good time. Additional bar-related information can be found on the webpage of the Office of Academic Engagement & Student Success, under the Bar Readiness tab. If you have any questions, please stop by and talk with one of us, we’ll be happy to help!

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Bar Results

If you took any state’s bar exam in July 2016, you likely have your results by now. Most of you are thrilled and relieved; some of you are not. Let me share some wise words and advice from Scott Johns, a law teacher who posted this on the Law School Academic Support Blog :

First, if you passed the bar exam, congratulations!  What a wonderful accomplishment!  As you celebrate your success while waiting to take your oath of office, here’s a quick suggestion.  This a great time to reach out to your support team (family, friends, colleagues, mentors, etc.) and personally thank them for their encouragement and inspiration.  And, with respect to your law school colleagues that did not pass, its important that you reach out to them too.  Send a quick email.  Invite them for coffee.  Let them know that you personally stand behind them and for them no matter what.  Most importantly, just listen with kindness, graciousness, and compassion.  In short, be a friend.

Second, if you did not pass the bar exam, please know that the results are not a reflection of who you are as a person….period.  Lots of famous and successful people did not pass the bar exam on the first try (and some after a number of tries).  Yet, they are some of the most outstanding attorneys and successful leaders.  So, be kind to yourself.  Take time to reflect, cry, and ponder.   Most importantly, just be yourself.  Then, in a few days or a few weeks, reach out to your law school.  Make sure you order your exam answers if they are available in your state because looking at your exam answers can give you inside information on what you did that was great and where to improve too.  Contact your bar review company for a one-on-one chat.  Overall, though, the most important task at hand is to be kind to yourself, and please remember, your value comes from who you are and not from the bar exam at all.  Period.

We are proud of all of you for undertaking something as challenging and exhausting as preparing for a bar exam. We will be offering resources to those who did not pass, but feel free to contact us yourself for support, whether in bar passage, employment or a fellowship. To the advice above, I would add that you should absolutely get as much information about your own answers as you can from your bar jurisdiction; make sure you know the deadline for making that request. In New York, for instance, it is 60 days after the date of notification that you did not pass.  Also, in most jurisdictions, you can request hand-scoring of your MBE answer sheet if you think that would make a difference. Contact your state bar jurisdiction for instructions on how to do that, as each of them has different rules. In Georgia, the process is:

Send a request in writing to the Office of Bar Admissions containing:

Your Name/Address/Phone Number/Email and Applicant Number

Month/Year Bar Exam Taken

Signature

Include a money order made payable to the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE):  $50

The address is:

Office of Bar Admissions — ATTN MBE Hand Score Request

244 Washington Street; Suite 440

Atlanta, GA  30334

If you passed the Georgia bar exam, you should have heard from our Alumni Relations team inviting you to join your classmates and members of the Emory Law community to be sworn in at a special ceremony hosted here at the law school next week. If you did not get that information, please contact Bethany Glass at bethany [dot] glass [at] emory [dot] edu. You must RSVP and bring the original of your Georgia Bar certificate to Rm. G120 in Gambrell Hall. We look forward to hearing from you or seeing you soon.

Featured image provided by Al Haidar.

Georgia Bar Results Today

From the website of the Georgia Office of Bar Admissions:

The Office of Bar Admissions will release the official results of the July 2016 Georgia Bar Examination on Friday, October 28, 2016. Applicants will receive notification of their results under the Admission Documents tab on the User Home Page. A list of names of successful applicants from the July 2016 Georgia Bar Examination will be posted on this site at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, October 28, 2016.

Best of luck to all our graduates who took the Georgia Bar in July — we are hoping for the best for all of you! And for all who took the bar exam in other states, that goes for you too! If you need any support after getting your results, please contact the Office of Academic Engagement and Student Success.

New California Performance Test on July 2017 Bar Exam

The State Bar of California has previously announced that it will include a new California “Performance Test” on its bar exam, starting in July 2017.  The new CA PT will be 90 minutes long, and there only will be one CA PT,  instead of two MPTs (Multistate Performance Test) as in the past. According to the California bar admissions website, http://admissions.calbar.ca.gov/:

General Bar Examination The examination will be administered over two days with the following components:

1. One morning session during which three one-hour essay questions will be administered;

2. One afternoon session during which two one-hour essay questions and one 90-minute Performance Test will be administered; and

3. Morning and afternoon sessions consisting of three hours each, during which 100 multiple choice items for each session will be administered [the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE)].

The current understanding among law schools is that there will not be many differences in format between the new CA PT and the MPT, but there may be differences in the instructions. All of this is subject to change once the California State Bar releases more information. Check www.calbar.ca.gov  and admissions.calbar.ca.gov regularly and be ready to read the new instructions very carefully.

Important Changes To The MBE For 2017

The National Conference of Bar Examiners alerted law school deans yesterday about another change to the MBE starting in 2017 (they had previously announced an expansion of the scope of topics that might be tested in the category of Real Property). The 2017 MBE will still contain 200 questions, but unlike prior years, when 190 of those were actually scored and 10 were unscored experimental questions, the new MBE will only score 175 questions and 25 will be unscored experimental questions.

This means that each individual multiple choice question will count a bit more than in the past; and cumulatively, it will be more important for a bar taker to answer each one correctly. What this means for you, as an individual test-taker, is that test-taking skills and strategies will become even more important. In addition to paying attention to the added scope of Real Property topics and making sure you study the new topics, it will be more important than ever for you to do as many practice MBE questions as possible and review what strategies were most effective for you.

We will be offering (again) free MBE workshops for graduating students in the spring semester, so please plan to take advantage of at least one of those. You can come to all of them at no cost to you. Also, be sure to ask bar review course vendors for details about their MBE practice questions, such as how many of them are actual former MBE questions released by NCBEX, and how many will address the added subjects in Civil Procedure (added in 2015) and Real Property. Be aware that older MBE review materials will likely not include those new topics, including some that are on reserve for your use in the MacMillan Law Library.