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.
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
The last deadline to apply for certification by the Board to Determine Fitness of bar applicants in Georgia, in time to take the Georgia bar exam in July 2016, is March 2, 2016. Applications must be received in their office before 4:30 pm on that date, not postmarked by that date, and the late filing fee must be paid in full. Details about all deadlines, fees and forms of payment are here: Georgia Bar Admissions Deadlines and Fees.
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
If you plan to take the MPRE (Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam) before graduation, it will be given next on March 19, 2016. For more information, and to register, go to the website of the National Conference of Bar Examiners. The MPRE is required for bar admission in most American jurisdictions.
These reminders have been shared by Georgia’s Office of Bar Admissions. For more detail, it is important to go directly to their website, www.gabaradmissions.org.
For those students intending to sit for the February 2016 Georgia Bar exam, please note that the late deadline to submit a Bar exam application is Friday, February 5, 2016, prior to 4:30 p.m.
For those students intending to sit for the July 2016 Georgia Bar exam, please note that the late deadline to submit a Character and Fitness Application is Wednesday, March 2, 2016, before 4:30 p.m.
The legal profession and legal education are increasingly willing to acknowledge that many of their participants struggle with disorders that undermine their personal and academic goals. Prominent among those are depression, anxiety and substance abuse. Sometimes those “travel” together.
If you are a law student, chances are high that you or a friend may suffer from one or more of these challenges, according to a recent in-depth study of law student wellbeing: Twenty-Five Percent of Law Students Have Been Diagnosed With Depression, Disorders and Other Mental Illnesses.
You don’t have to suffer in silence, and you shouldn’t. Please seek help from your law school, from your campus counseling center, from Student Health Services, from your state’s Lawyer Assistance Program — wherever you feel comfortable getting help. The sooner you take care of these issues and take care of yourself, the better you will feel and the better you are likely to do academically and on the bar exam that lies ahead. It is normal to feel anxious about law school and the bar, but there is so much you can do to lessen that anxiety and set yourself up for success. Let us know how we can help!
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!