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.

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.

Important Bar Information Session for Graduating Students

Sally Lockwood 78L, Director of Bar Admissions for Georgia, will explain the “Character and Fitness” review process to all graduating students who plan to take the bar in July 2017. In Georgia, the application deadline is in early December. The process is similar in most states, so come learn even if you do not plan to take the bar in Georgia. The first 100 students to attend and sign in will get a free copy of “Pass the Bar!”, a book I highly recommend for its detailed strategies for success on the bar, including action checklists you can start working on now. You must stay to the end of the program to claim your book.

For detailed, official information about Georgia bar applications, deadlines and fees, go to the Georgia Office of Bar Admissions website. For official information about admission to the New York bar, go to the New York Board of Law Examiners website. For official information about admission to the Florida bar, go to the Florida Board of Bar Examiners website, which also has its own official summary of Florida bar admissions information. For other states, it is simple to link to their bar admissions offices through the website of the National Conference of Bar Examiners.

Please remember that bar admissions officials will expect you, as the applicant, to know their requirements and meet their deadlines, and they will expect you to keep yourself informed and up to date, as it is possible for their information to change. Now is a good time to read through their rules and requirements thoroughly, set up an applicant account if that is available, bookmark their webpages and make a habit of checking those regularly. While this blog is an occasional source of reminders, it is NOT the final word on bar admissions, nor is it updated daily or even weekly, so please do not rely on it alone for tracking deadlines.

Bar Exam Essays: Just Do It (Them)

Here is excellent advice from the Law School Academic Support Blog, about doing practice essays questions now, as part of your preparation for the bar exam in one month. I strongly advise doing practice essay questions now, if you have not yet done any, and turning them in ASAP for feedback if your commercial bar review course offers that service. Students sometimes avoid doing practice essay questions because they fear them. Here’s the thing: if essay questions scare you now, how do you think they’ll make you feel on the real bar exam? The good news: if you tackle that fear now and don’t avoid doing practice essays, you will be much less intimidated when you have to answer the real thing. Your first attempts may not be very good. That’s okay, you have time to practice and get better. None of this is based on aptitude or intuition.

  1. Just do it. If you wait until you are fully comfortable with the law to write an essay; you will never do it. You will never be fully comfortable with all aspects of each and every subject area but you can get better by writing.
  2. Build your muscles. You must dive in to build tough skin when it comes to critique/feedback. When you are faced with the unknown you will develop a strategy. You do not want to face your worse fear, the essay, on the day of the exam.  It just won’t work. “Remember that no one shows up for a marathon without preparation so why should you?” (Dean of Student Engagement quote)
  3. Keep it real. Be completely honest with yourself and the people who are trying to help you.  Complete timed questions, honestly critique your responses,and start to do it closed book.
  4. Close the book…or you will never get the timing right and you will never memorize the rules.  Only after you have made a good faith attempt and done your best should you look up rules you do not know or understand.

Another word of advice for Georgia bar exam takers (and it may be relevant in other jurisdictions too): the exam will almost always include an essay question that raises issues of professional ethics. It will likely appear as part of a question on a different, bigger topic — because that is how ethical issues arise in the legal profession, they emerge when you are trying to handle a specific matter of law. On the February bar exam, which you can see online here, Essay Question 1 mostly concerned Evidence. However, one of the questions asked whether or not a prosecutor should turn over certain evidence to the defense. This is a specific scenario where the Georgia rules are slightly different. To do well on all of this essay, examinees needed first to know to discuss the rules governing professional conduct as well as evidence, and the Georgia distinctions.

February 2016 Bar Questions Are Online

Georgia’s Office of Bar Admissions has posted the February 2016 questions online here: Ga. February Bar Essays and MPTs. It is well worth your time to read through them so you have a better idea of what you will see on the actual bar exam. They have not yet posted sample answers for the February questions, but you can see sample answers for earlier bar exam essay questions and MPT questions going back as far as 2000. The New York Bar also has past questions and sample answers but the most recent ones they have posted are from July 2015.

No matter where you are taking the bar, make sure to look at the actual past bar exam questions that most jurisdictions make available. At this stage, you may not be ready to tackle them by doing practice answers but the more familiar you get with them by reading them over, the easier and more effective that practice will be when your bar course assigns you to do some (or you’re ready to do some on your own). Actually doing lots of practice MBE questions and writing out practice essay and MPT answers can mean the difference between passing first time and not. And make sure to think carefully about the “call” of each question; practice reading those closely, so you have more confidence that you know what the bar examiner actually wants to see in your response. Fight for every point!

Congratulations to February Bar-Passers!

We just got the pass list for the February Georgia bar exam, and other states’ results are starting to come in. Congratulations to the 31 Emory Law grads who passed the Georgia bar in February! Those of you who will take it in July — take heart! You too can do this.

Shown above, with permission: Al Haidar, December 2015 grad, at his swearing-in.

Practice (Questions) Makes Perfect, or at Least a Pass

I hope you all had a pleasant Memorial Day weekend! By now, most of you have started your bar review classes. If you have NOT started yet, you need to start NOW. Eight weeks from tomorrow, you will be finished with the bar exam! Some of you will be finished eight weeks from today! To make sure you will succeed and pass on your first try, the next seven weeks are crucial and doing practice questions is an important key to success. One analysis last year showed that students who did 2000 practice MBE questions scored 13 percent higher on the MBE. That can mean the difference between passing and not, so why leave it to chance?

Similarly, practicing with essay questions (actually writing and submitting answers to your bar review company in time to get meaningful feedback) is very valuable. No amount of reading the material and model answers can prepare you, or show you where you have gaps, as well as writing out your own answers and getting feedback in time to adjust and improve your approach. By practicing, you will also build up familiarity with the format and the look and feel of bar exam questions, which will reduce mental stress and allow you to engage more quickly and effectively with real bar exam questions. It’s a little like riding a bike; doing it over and over makes it more automatic each time you try.

If you want to practice with actual MBE questions written and tested by the National Conference of Bar Examiners, you can buy them directly here: MBE Online Practice Exams. But ask your bar review company first whether they have licensed use of those questions and will provide them to you as part of your course in addition to the ones they draft themselves.