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.
This post is meant for those of you who will graduate in the coming academic year (2017-18) and plan to take a bar exam. Many, but not all, of you are 2Ls going into your 3L year; some of you are LLM students.
As I wrote this last week, most of your friends and colleagues in the Class of 2017 were just finishing up their bar exams, finding out whether they were as ready as they had hoped and planned and worked to be. Sooner than you think, that will be you! Now is a great time for you to start thinking ahead to what you can do over the coming academic year to maximize your probability of success when you take a bar exam for the first time.
The book I highly recommend you buy and start reading NOW for overall bar readiness is “Pass The Bar!” by Denise Riebe and Michael Hunter Schwartz. One of its first chapters is a set of “Action Plan Checklists” that begin 6-12 months before your post-graduation commercial bar review course starts. That window of time is now. Since many of you will file “character and fitness” applications to bar authorities this fall (they are due by early December in Georgia for those who will take the Georgia bar in July 2018), this is a great time to start getting familiar with the requirements for the jurisdiction where you will take the bar. More than half of all states now administer the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE), but each state still has its own requirements and deadlines. Save yourself some stress and start getting to know them now. You may need to gather your own records to answer the detailed character and fitness questionnaires, so getting an early start on that is also helpful.
We will be doing a series of programs to support and inform you all year as you get closer to the bar exam. The first is usually the annual September visit of the Director of Bar Admissions for Georgia, who will explain the character and fitness process and answer questions in person. In the meantime, I hope you will read through the information here: http://law.emory.edu/academics/academic-engagement/index.html (scroll down to see Bar Readiness).
Enjoy the rest of your summer! We look forward to seeing you back here later this month.
If you plan to use a PC running Microsoft when you take the bar exam, there is important information about the recent update to Windows 10 Creator. IT IS NOT CURRENTLY SUPPORTED BY THE EXAMSOFT SOFTWARE you will use on the bar exam and does not meet ExamSoft’s minimum system requirements for the Georgia bar exam. Other states may have a different position on it. From the ExamSoft website for the Georgia bar exam, together with other reminders:
- Windows Devices such as Surface Pro, IPAD, and any other Tablet Devices ARE NOT ALLOWED.
- Microsoft Windows 10 Creator does not meet ExamSoft’s minimum system requirements and is not supported by ExamSoft. DO NOT upgrade to Windows 10 Creator if you intend to use your laptop for the Bar Examination.
- MacBook Pro with Touch Bar computers ARE NOT ALLOWED.
- External keyboards (wired or wireless), Mouse devices (wired or wireless), USB keys, CDs, or any other storage devices ARE NOT ALLOWED.
Bar officials in Georgia may require you to handwrite the bar exam if you bring a laptop with Windows 10 Creator on it, so please take care of this ahead of time. If you will take the bar exam in another state, check directly with that state for their instructions for laptop use.
Please make sure to check back on your state’s bar examination website and the appropriate ExamSoft website for any updated information, such as the Georgia Bar webpage on laptop use and minimum system requirements. And while you are on your bar’s website, make sure to review ALL rules, restrictions and requirements. If you breach one of those, even accidentally, you risk not being allowed to sit for the exam. That problem is easy to avoid if you double-check the requirements!
The end is in sight! Most of you are done with your course lectures by now and are working on completing assignments, reviewing, etc. This week, the Law School Academic Support blog posted this helpful advice for the last two weeks of bar preparation: A Game Plan: Last Minute Bar Preparation.
The book “Pass The Bar!” also has a great checklist for these last two weeks, on page 14. We will put copies of that page outside the Office of Academic Engagement and Student Success offices, with the other handouts, so you can help yourselves.
It can be hard to stay motivated and focused now, and you’re probably tired, so just stick to a daily schedule and take good care of yourselves. When you walk into that exam, you want to know that you’ve done everything you could to succeed — that will give you a great sense of prepared confidence, and that too will help you. If you’re taking the Georgia bar in Atlanta, we’ll see you there when we offer you lunch on both days of the exam.
If you have been certified through Georgia’s Character and Fitness process, you should have also received instructions on how to submit the SEPARATE bar examination application form, without which you cannot sit for the bar exam in July. Detailed information is here: https://www.gabaradmissions.org/deadlines-and-fees. Please note that the Georgia Bar’s deadlines mean that materials and fees must be received, not postmarked, before 4 pm on the deadline date.
If you are taking the MPRE on Saturday, March 18, we wish you the best of luck and success! Please note: you CAN take the Georgia bar exam before you take the MPRE but you MUST take the MPRE and achieve the cut-off score on that, in addition to passing the bar exam, before you will be admitted to practice in Georgia. After this Saturday’s administration (for which all registration deadlines have passed), the next MPRE administration will be on Saturday, August 12, 2017. The regular registration deadline for that is June 22; the late registration deadline, which doubles the fee, is June 29.
The August MPRE is the last date that will likely allow you to receive those results by the end of October, when you should also get your results from the actual bar exam. If you plan to be sworn in to the Georgia bar this fall, and you have not yet taken the MPRE or achieved the required score, make sure you know those dates and register in time for August.
If you don’t have it already, now is a great time to buy yourself a copy of “Pass The Bar!” by Riebe and Schwartz, so you can refer to their terrific action plan checklists for readiness before you start your commercial bar review course.
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.
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!
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
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.
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.