Times Square, NYC

BARBRI Provides ‘Life-changing’ Experience for Immigration Lawyer

[ By Cindy Anna Nicolson, LLB – Guest Blogger and Immigration Attorney ]

Cindy Anna Nicolson, LLB

Cindy Anna Nicolson, LLB

Whenever someone asks where I am licensed to practice and I tell them New York, I know I earn their respect. Even fellow attorneys who are licensed elsewhere in the United States recognize that my passing of the New York State Bar is a real feather in my cap.

To receive such admiration is humbling, and not something I set out to achieve in my career. Rather, my goal has always simply been to do meaningful work where I am most passionate: in the area of immigration law. Through sheer dedication, perseverance and BARBRI, this dream has come to fruition.

Earning a four-year Scottish LLB degree in law was the first stage of my legal training. I then became aware of the BARBRI Extended U.S. Bar Preparation program and knew it was the right path for me as a non-U.S. attorney with aspirations of practicing internationally.

BARBRI’s reputation in the legal field is unsurpassed, and their results speak for themselves. I first studied with BARBRI using their 6-month course in 2015 after setting down roots in Las Vegas, Nevada. Licensed in Nevada, I could practice in areas of federal law—such as Social Security, Bankruptcy and, of course, Immigration Law. I could not, however, practice state-specific law. For this reason, I enlisted the help of BARBRI again in February 2018 when I decided to sit the New York Bar Exam.

TOOLS THAT WORK FOR ANYONE, ANYWHERE

As with my first experience with BARBRI, I knew I would get clear and concise instruction from expert lecturers using lesson plans and schedules designed for busy professionals like me. If someone works full-time, has children or has only a limited amount of time to devote to studies, the BARBRI home study schedule fits their lifestyle.

The course was easy to follow and structured well. I found the topics to be fully explained. But for those times when questions arose, a BARBRI rep was always there to provide advice, guidance, or a little morale boost.

The bar exam was like no other exam I took in law school. The time allocated to studies in the BARBRI plan was something I absolutely had to give my full commitment. I did the many practice questions and mock exams as directed. The intense preparation paid off with success on the bar exam.

THE REWARDS OUTWEIGH THE TIME INVESTMENT   

Now with a New York license in hand, I can work anywhere in the U.S. And if I should choose to relocate to New York City or any major city around the world, I am confident I will be able to utilize my license to full potential. Because the U.S. bar is recognized globally, practicing on an international basis is well within my reach.

The opportunity to dual-qualify and practice in the U.S. has changed my life. Yes, I worked harder than I ever imagined to get here. However, the rewards of being an international lawyer far outweigh the long days and nights of study.

The two words I would use to best describe my experience with BARBRI Extended U.S. Bar Prep: life-changing and exceptional.

Beyond Dubai

New York Bar Taker Looks to Extend Reach Beyond Dubai

[ By Laureen Fredah, MBA, LLB, Guest Blogger and Middlesex University Law Graduate ]

Laureen Fredah, MBA, LLB

I have had a very rewarding job for a number of years working with Emirates Airline in Dubai, but I have long been drawn to a career as a lawyer. So when Middlesex University London opened its first overseas campus in Dubai, and became the only university in the United Arab Emirates to offer a common law degree, I jumped at the chance to attend in 2014. I then set my sights on passing the New York State Bar Exam to become more marketable internationally.

It was a fairly straightforward plan, except for the fact that the nature of my work has always required me to travel extensively. It’s not uncommon for me to fly three or four times per week and log some 110 flight-hours per month. Because of my work commitment, I knew I would need help in preparing to undertake something as intense as the U.S. Bar Exam.

The BARBRI team invested great time and effort into explaining the preparation process to me, and what I should know before committing to that process. I sensed BARBRI had a good understanding of the challenges faced by foreign-trained attorneys so I chose to study using their 6-month Extended U.S. Bar Preparation course. I reasoned that the 6-month course would better keep me on my toes than the 10-month course, plus I wanted to qualify as quickly as possible to begin my job search in legal.

EVERYTHING REQUIRED TO PASS THE EXAM

My reality became one of never having enough time to study, finding the material to be overwhelmingly too much, and dealing with long flights, jet lag and fatigue. Sometimes I would be a week behind the recommended progress on my Personal Study Plan (PSP), but I always made sure to not fall so far behind that I couldn’t catch up as soon as I got some breathing room.

When exam day came, I found the material tested to be familiar because it had been extensively covered by the BARBRI course. This made the exam experience much less challenging and intimidating.

MOTIVATION TO KEEP AFLOAT   

Aside from covering all of the material required to pass a United States bar exam, BARBRI provides a one-on-one mentor to every student. This personal mentor is on hand every step of the way to help ensure the student keeps up with the course. The best part is the mentor is a U.S.-qualified lawyer who not only supports and encourages but can also explain areas of the law that may not be easily understood.

Once in a while, I would email my mentor for clarification on a subject I didn’t fully understand. But more often than not, I would reach out if I needed a little pep talk to keep me motivated. Even if I was too busy studying to check-in, my mentor would keep in touch. The fact that she constantly tracked my progress on the PSP reassured me that I wasn’t alone in my exam preparation. Support was always there.

ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE   

I am proof that anything is possible when you set your mind to it, and are given the right tools. As an example, I took the New York Law Examination (a prerequisite to admission to practice in the state of New York) while on a flight from Australia back to Dubai. I spent much of the hour-long exam worrying about turbulence and whether it might cut off my internet connection on the aircraft.

In the end, I passed the NYLE and went on to pass the New York Bar Exam in February 2019 with BARBRI’s help. I’m now focused on landing my next career position in the area of Dispute Resolution, Commercial and Corporate Law, or Arbitration. Opportunities are widely available in these areas in Dubai, and it is a great legal center to acquire experience for the day when I decide to take my career international.

Working in Malaysia and the U.S.

Being Qualified in the U.S. is a Path Worth Taking

[ By Tiffany Khoo, LLB — Guest Blogger and London School of Economics Graduate ]

Image of Tiffany Khoo

Tiffany Khoo, LLB

In 2016, I was working as Associate Legal Counsel for the Central Bank of Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur when I decided it was time to gain a broader understanding of how the law operates in modern cities. The United States, and more specifically New York City was on my radar as one of the most fast-paced and dynamic economies in the world. I knew that being equipped with international qualifications, such as admission to the New York State Bar, would demonstrate transfer ability in my career. I could greatly expand my legal horizons, if I so desired, through dual qualification.

Although the U.S. route to dual qualification is less popular in the Malaysian jurisdiction, being U.S.-qualified in a globalized world is a smart pathway. Alongside London, New York is an incredibly cosmopolitan city where it’s quite likely that arbitration work could involve some international dealings. Plus, instead of having to attend physical classes I could qualify by simply passing the relevant exams, granting me the flexibility to meet the responsibilities of my full-time job.

I first heard of BARBRI while attending the London School of Economics, where there was much talk of others who had dual qualifications. Because I would be working alongside my studies, I felt that preparing for the New York Bar Exam on my own would require so much discipline. As such, guidance just seemed like the best plan for an exam that would be in a foreign jurisdiction.

Bar Prep Guidance Made Easy.

I decided to enroll in the BARBRI Extended U.S. Bar Prep course. It was a rather simple decision. With its reputation as the premiere bar prep provider, BARBRI just made sense because I knew I needed to pass the exam on the first try. I had accumulated annual leave in order to fly to New York in 2017 to take the exam, and then again for the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) the following year. I needed to minimize the disruption from my full-time job and the costs of traveling back and forth to the U.S.

BARBRI’s 10-month home study option allowed me to study part-time with the aid of online help, question banks, and even personalized essay feedback. The way the course materials and personalized timetable were presented was straightforward and, therefore, easy to follow. I received my materials through the mail with an assurance that, if I followed the timetable set for me by BARBRI, I would cover the material in the most efficient manner. This ultimately proved to be true.

The course was easy to access online, both through web pages and my mobile devices. This made it convenient for me to squeeze in study time when commuting to and from work. In this sense, it wasn’t difficult to integrate my life with bar prep.

The BARBRI website is incredibly helpful.

I was able to send in a query about eligibility and be put in touch with a BARBRI representative. International students were also added into a group chat so we could share information, discuss questions, and encourage each other. I found that I could ask anything, and all of my concerns were taken seriously. Even now, this group chat remains a strong network, and we share updates on our careers and lives with each other.

When I later required additional BARBRI materials for the MPRE, I was relieved to find they were provided for free. I could again enjoy the ease with which the materials were delivered and made accessible. There was a video, reading resources, and even test questions. The BARBRI methodology completely changed the way I see exams and revisions.

As for the actual bar exam, although I can safely say it was one of the most challenging exams I have ever experienced, I felt adequately prepared. Thankfully, I scored 329—well above the necessary passing score of 266.

My law degree and additional qualification have been instrumental in enabling me to secure my current role, that of Manager of Strategy and Governance for a medical center in Kuala Lumpur. The hospital with which I work frequently sees patients from multiple countries across the globe. I have to occasionally deal with immigration issues resulting from long hospital stays, or cross-border issues in relation to third-party administrators operating from overseas. My cross-border legal knowledge has equipped me in the negotiation and review of these arrangements, as well as in the planning of international strategies for advertising and licensing. I thank BARBRI for much of my international career success.

Looking Ahead to the QLTS.

Although I am not currently working in the legal field, I plan to re-enter the profession by cross-qualifying with the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme (QLTS) exam in 2020. In one fell swoop, I can be qualified to practice in both England and Malaysia. Whatever the future may hold, with the New York bar qualification in hand, I can more assuredly say that I understand how the law works around the world.

Study and Exam-Day Tips from a New York State Bar Exam Taker

By Saurabh Aggarwal, BARBRI Legal Coordinator

Saurabh Aggarwal, BARBRI Legal Coordinator

Saurabh Aggarwal, BARBRI Legal Coordinator

I recently sat the New York State Bar Exam. It was an experience like no other for me. If you are preparing to enter the uncharted waters of a U. S. bar exam, it is my hope that what I share here will help ease the apprehension and uncertainty you may be feeling toward exam day.

As a foreign-educated attorney with roots in Toronto, Canada, I looked to the New York Bar Exam as a way to expand my horizons and heighten my legal competency. Don’t get me wrong, I’m fully immersed in my work within BARBRI. But, the additional qualification will serve to enhance what I have to offer my employer and the legal field.

Because I am a full-time working professional, I knew I would need flexibility in my bar exam studies. I chose the BARBRI Extended U.S. Bar Preparation course over 6-months because it allowed me to weave in studies with my other commitments. There are options with BARBRI, so finding the right path to prepare for the bar exam is highly individualized and simplified.

With BARBRI, I had one-on-one support from a tutor that was invaluable in keeping me focused where I most needed to be. Since I’m not usually a high-performer on multiple-choice tests, the tutor understood it would be beneficial for me to practice tons of multiple-choice questions under timed conditions to best prepare for the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE).

FAST-FORWARD TO THE EXAM

The first tip I offer you is to book your lodging accommodations early. If you will be traveling to a test location, take it from me, you don’t want to wait until the last minute to book a hotel. I chose to stay near my family in Toronto and drive to the Buffalo, N.Y. test location the day of the exam. Even finding a hotel in Toronto proved to be rather difficult, and I ended up with a 30-minute commute.

Here’s what else I learned during my bar exam experience:

  • The testing center gets really busy, so arriving early is smart to avoid unnecessary delays in check-in and seating.
  • I didn’t waste hours worrying about the exam the night before. Instead, I found it worked well to do a quick read over my notes and to get a good night’s sleep. (After all, I had prepared well with BARBRI.) I went into the first day’s Multistate Essay Examination (MEE) and Multistate Performance Test (MPT) quite rested and relaxed, and the exams went smoothly as a result.
  • Although lunch may be purchased before sitting the exam, I chose to eat out nearby to give my mind a break and enjoy a change of scenery before the afternoon MEE. Additional snacks and water are a must to have on hand as well. Quiet snacks helped me stay focused without being disruptive to anyone and the water kept me hydrated.
  • The exam portions are quite long and lengthy, and time is of the essence. I found it worked best for me to briefly read through the questions and plan out my answers to those with which I was most comfortable before diving in. I completed all of my essays within the time allowed and was able to review my answers before submitting them.
  • Hypotheticals for the MBE especially require time and good attention. I highlighted the key issue in each hypo, took the time to really comprehend it, and then chose the best answer from the options provided. Remember, I had to work a lot of MBE questions during my studies to gain confidence in doing so for the exam―but it was totally worth it.

Only you know what will work best for you when it comes to preparation and exam day. So adopt a study and test strategy that will best suit your individual desire for success. A bar prep provider that offers the services you feel will be most beneficial and that tailors a program to meet your personal study goals can make all the difference. Go wisely, and best of luck on the bar!

For further support, visit BARBRI  for tailored advice on the New York Bar Exam process.

From Morocco to Manhattan: Charting a Global Career

By Jihane Chraibi, Guest Blogger and French Attorney-in-Training

It’s been a year in the making, but I’ve conquered the New York State Bar Exam. (It sure feels good to put this in print!)

Growing up in Morocco, I can’t honestly say when I first got the urge to blaze a global career path but I do know that Europe and the United States have long been in my sight. I earned my Law LLB at King’s College London and my Corporate Law LL.M. at University College London—with the aspiration of becoming a global attorney in an international law firm.

Jihane Chraibi

Jihane Chraibi

For now, I’m working in a legal services company in Paris, France.

But passing the U.S. Bar Exam allows me to cast a wider net in terms of career options and also complete the equivalency for the French Bar, should I decide to remain in Paris for some time.

I am thankful for the doors that are open to me as a result of passing the New York Bar Exam, and I am grateful that BARBRI had a hand in my success. I chose to go with the BARBRI Extended U.S. Bar Prep course for my bar studies because I heard over and over again about the program and its classroom lecture and home study options.

What became invaluable to me as I undertook my home studies was the unique one-on-one support I received from a tutor, who I deemed my “personal coach”. This person actually knew where I was in the study process at all times and was able to offer tailored help based on what I was studying.

I ended up reaching out to my coach once every couple of weeks and she really guided me through how to structure my essays and responses for the Multistate Performance Test. She was also there to help me gain confidence in answering Multistate Bar Examination practice questions. Thank goodness for my coach (or savior) when studying grew tiresome and oh so time-consuming.

Not only did I feel quite supported throughout the entire course, but the BARBRI program is designed to be very detailed and focused so I felt quite prepared on exam day. BARBRI was an efficient way to study for the bar exam.

My advice to anyone considering sitting a U.S. bar exam as a foreign-trained attorney is to choose a bar prep provider that offers the services you feel will be most beneficial, such as a personal tutor, and be consistent in your study approach from day to day or week to week.

With the U.S. Bar Exam now a thing of the past, I’m on to pursue a master’s degree in France before committing to a new career opportunity. But as I continue to chart my global legal trail, Manhattan may not be far behind.

How to Think Internationally for a Shrinking Globe

By Rob Dudley, Deputy Managing Director, BARBRI

As an increasing number of lawyers look to take their skills to the international market, so too does this global market look to lawyers to provide legal resources at an ever-greater rate. It’s a win-win for practitioners who want to qualify in multiple jurisdictions. But what’s key to making this a fluid exchange is for lawyers to ensure they have the qualifications that enable them to work outside their home jurisdictions.

A shrinking global market is making it imperative for lawyers to have jurisdictional flexibility. It’s something BARBRI recognized more than 50 years ago in the United States when it was founded to prepare law graduates in the skills and techniques needed for the 50 U.S. state bar exams. Today, BARBRI Extended U.S. Bar Prep focuses on preparing non-U.S. law graduates and lawyers for these exams and delivering training for the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme (QLTS) assessment in England and Wales. These programs provide an efficient and effective way to qualify as either a U.S. attorney or as solicitor in England and Wales for those who are foreign-trained, and to be more employable around the world.

The majority of people I now see coming through our doors are globally minded lawyers working with or for international law firms and who need to operate beyond their home jurisdiction. Increasingly this means foreign-trained lawyers are looking to take the New York or California State Bar Exams, or be qualified as solicitors in England and Wales.

Olu Ogunnowo

This brings me to the international journey of Olu Ogunnowo, a London-based attorney who recognized some years ago that he could expand his career opportunities greatly by becoming dual qualified. The Lagos-born lawyer saw that international law firms were increasingly opening or partnering with firms in countries like Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Egypt, and South Africa (which has a Roman Dutch system) to represent client interests in both commercial law and civil law. As global business interests reached into Africa, local understanding and good connections became very important.

This meant there was growing need for lawyers with knowledge of the region to take the U.S. Bar Exam or be registered to practice in England and Wales. Olu’s local insight and qualification would allow him to straddle both systems. Likewise, he knew that as the economies of his native Africa expanded, he would need to be able to operate across legal systems or risk losing business to lawyers who could. Being able to work in the international market would allow him to stand out from his peers, and most major law firms operating in Africa had offices in London or New York as well as cities like Johannesburg, Nairobi, Accra, Cairo, or Lagos.

As a UK-trained solicitor, Olu decided to qualify to practice in the U.S. He undertook a BARBRI Extended U.S. Bar Prep course and passed the bar. BARBRI prepared him for the exam which, he said, was tough but he passed without trouble. With his new qualification in hand, Olu was able to move from London to New York to practice with an international law firm for two years before returning to London to go into private practice.

He has been back and forth to the U.S. on occasion—working for a Texas-based client, and says it has been a great way for him to gain more international experience and also be nearer family who live in the U.S. Being registered in multiple jurisdictions has undoubtedly shaped his career and lifestyle.

Olu once told me, “The world is shrinking, which means the legal system is shrinking. Law is a conservative profession that is very slow to change. Lawyers need to understand this and keep ahead by being aware of what is happening in society. Law graduates must be forward-thinking and always reflect on how society is likely to change.”

It’s great advice that, to this day, I still like to pass along to law students.

Study + Work: How to Successfully Do Both

By Hemant Chauhan, Legal Coordinator, BARBRI 

If you are looking to internationalize your legal career as a foreign-trained lawyer or law graduate by pursuing qualification as a U.S. attorney, you’ve made a wise decision. Know that preparing to sit a U.S. Bar Exam doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Although you may grapple with how best to study while working and fulfilling other commitments, options exist that provide both study flexibility plus the opportunity to still have a life. Who would have thought!

As someone who is preparing to sit the N.Y. State Bar Exam, I can tell you there is no single path that makes sense for every professional trying to juggle work and study. I can also tell you that the BARBRI Extended U.S. Prep courses are designed to fit your needs for balance, whatever they may be. The programs are geared for non-U.S. nationals and focus on the frequently examined topics that international students find most difficult.

Unless you have studied many of the subjects tested on the exam, or English is your first language, it will likely be rather difficult to make a realistic determination of how and how long to prepare. I offer up the following information and account of my own international journey to help guide you in yours.

Choose Bar Prep for the Real World

Because we are all at a little different stage in our careers and have different commitments, BARBRI Extended U.S. Bar Prep offers 6-month and 10-month Extended U.S. Bar Prep courses. The 6-month course estimates 25-30 hours will be dedicated to learning per week, and may be best suited to those who can study on a full-time basis and/or who prefer to get qualified more quickly.

The 10-month course estimates 10-15 hours will be dedicated to learning each week. Although both courses offer the same comprehensive curriculum, the 10-month program is offered at a slower pace. It’s for this reason that I have chosen the 10-month course for my bar prep.

Commit Accordingly

As you work to determine the course of your studies, you may want to ask yourself some questions:

  • How much time will I have (realistically) to devote to my studies each week? How much flexibility will I need during the course?
  • Will taking an intensive, timed multiple-choice and essay exam all in English be challenging for me?
  • How much support will I likely need during the course?
  • Will I study for a U.S. state exam in California or Texas, or one that utilizes the Uniform Bar Exam (such as New York)?

If you find yourself thinking you will need a good amount of time, flexibility, and support during your studies, then the BARBRI Extended U.S. Bar Prep course done over the course of 6- or 10-months may be right for you. Careful planning, discipline, and time management will all be important factors when fitting in study around employment. By adopting a methodical approach to studying and committing from the outset, you will become more efficient at juggling your many commitments and put yourself in the best position to pass the bar exam.

Use Your Resources Wisely

I’ll be the first to admit that workplace deadlines and distractions, the general demands of a full day on the job, and the commute home have taken a toll on my study plans at times. The 10-month course with BARBRI allows me more time to engage with the materials and offers a flexible, intuitive Personal Study Plan (PSP) so I can study anywhere at any time and focus my time where it is most needed. The fact that 76% of international students who complete 80% of the PSP have passed the bar exam is encouraging to me—and I hope it is to you, too. During my morning and evening commutes, I also listen to lectures in substantive law delivered by top U.S. law professors on the BARBRI app, and review the available handouts and outlines. I then study the multiple-choice practice questions on the weekends.

BARBRI offers unique LawMaster Study Keys, which have been particularly helpful for my MBE prep in connecting the law to the facts, analyzing complex fact patterns, working on issue-spotting, and recalling the rules. The simulation exams will ultimately allow me to do a complete timed exam and submit it to BARBRI for grading. The simulation will show me where I am on the bar exam curve with enough time to modify my studies before the actual exam.

Let’s just say I fully utilize the resources at my disposal with BARBRI, including access to a 1:1 personal coach whenever needed. These U.S.-qualified mentors are very supportive and have years of teaching expertise and knowledge in exam eligibility. They know what it takes to pass the bar exam, and they have helped me when I’ve struggled on subjects and study techniques. All of this combined is an approach that is allowing me to fulfill the 10-15 weekly hours of learning, and feel confident in my quest to pass the U.S. Bar Exam.

Best of luck to you as you commit to a course and prepare to become an amazing international attorney.

Unraveling the Mystery of the MPT

By Marta Young, BARBRI Institutional Programs Course Instructor

If just the thought of the Multistate Performance Test (lovingly called the MPT) is raising your blood pressure, trust me, you are not alone. Each bar review session, I hear from students with high levels of anxiety over this test. If you fall into this category, keep reading… Let me help unravel some of the mystery and anxiety for you.

First, what exactly is the MPT?

According to the examiners, the MPT is a writing assignment designed to test how well you can perform an everyday lawyer-like task, such as writing a memo or letter. Essentially, can you help the client solve a legal problem that a beginning attorney might be asked to handle? Sounds easy enough, but there is a catch: you only have 90 minutes to read through the materials and draft your answer.

You read that right. Only 90 minutes (and if you are taking the bar exam in a Uniform Bar Exam jurisdiction, you will have two 90-minute MPTs back to back). But, wait, there is an upside.

The test is an entirely closed-universe and takes place in a fictional jurisdiction called Franklin, which I like to picture as a beautiful, magical, tropical place despite the fact there is so much urgent litigation. This means that everything you need to draft your answer is included in the packet: a memo regarding your task, the client’s facts, and all of the applicable Franklin law. Happily, this is the one component of the bar exam that doesn’t require any rule memorization.

Second, how should I approach this test?

Often, the easiest way to tackle a seemingly difficult problem is to break it apart into manageable pieces. The same is true for the MPT. One of the first things I ask a student who is struggling with the MPT is, “Tell me how you went through the packet.”

Usually, the student will admit that he or she simply read the packet from beginning to the end with no clear strategy in mind. A better approach is to begin with the task memo, skip over the remaining documents in the client file (for now), and go directly to the library to review the law.

Why? Because it is so important to gain a basic understanding of the Franklin law before you start digging into the facts in the file. This will not only help you pull out the legally significant facts on your first read, but it will also save you precious time by reducing the number of instances you move back and forth between documents in the packet.

Another helpful time-saving strategy is to begin working on your answer as you move through the MPT documents. Instead of creating a separate outline after reading through everything, start working on an outline that can become your answer.

For example, after leaving the task memo you can set-up your document (as a memo, letter, brief, etc.) and frame some of the issue headings based on your supervisor’s instructions. Of course, your outline must be flexible, as not all of the nuances to the client’s problem will be revealed in the task memo. Rather, issues will appear after reading the law and the client’s facts.

Third, what structure should I use to write my answer?

Sometimes, the examiners will be generous and provide you with specific drafting guidelines for your answer, particularly for a more unusual type of task. If you are not provided with drafting guidelines, however, do not panic. You can almost always default to IRAC regardless of the type of document you are drafting.

Your goal is to set forth the issues pertaining to the client’s legal problem, discuss the applicable Franklin law, and then apply that law to the client’s facts. Even in a letter or brief, though your tone may be different, you are still ultimately analyzing issues by applying rules to facts.

Your answer will not look perfect. In fact, you do not have time for perfection. Your mission is to set forth the core of an answer in the time that you do have. This means that you should spend your time where it really counts — on your legal analysis — rather than on the “look” of your response. If you have time at the end, you can always come back and polish.

Finally, the biggest key to success on the MPT is practice, practice, practice. It takes time to refine your strategy, so start early and embrace the MPT. And remember, BARBRI will provide you with specific guidance during the MPT workshop as well as detailed feedback on your MPT submission. We are here to help you own the MPT!

New York Bar Exam: How to Apply for Eligibility without a 3-Year Law Degree

By Aoife Keenan, LL.B., LL.M.
Legal Advisor, BARBRI 

I started working with BARBRI in 2015. At the time, I was not aware of the U.S. route to qualification. Naturally, as a law student, I was intrigued. The thought of qualifying in two jurisdictions was really appealing to me. I had always been interested in working at an international level. A qualification from one of the most influential countries in the world was something I thought would increase my employ-ability outside of my home jurisdiction of Ireland.

Upon further research into the eligibility requirements, I was disappointed to discover I did not meet the criteria set out by the New York State Board of Law Examiners. Despite this fact, I was determined to apply anyway.

What I Had vs. What I Needed

A standard, full-time three-year common law degree is required to meet the eligibility requirement set out by the New York Board. I completed my undergraduate degree through law and business so I did not have enough credits in law modules. At first glance, this meant I did not meet the necessary criteria to take the New York Bar Exam.

Combining qualifications to cross the line: I wanted to find out if the New York Board was strict on the three-year law degree, so I began talking with BARBRI students (and there were some) who were deemed eligible even though they didn’t exactly meet the criteria set out by The Board. What I found was while my undergraduate degree did not meet the criteria outright, I might be considered eligible if I added my postgraduate law degree to the exam application. This can work for various reasons, but it appears consideration may come on a case-by-case basis.

My application at a glance

Documentation: Feeling a bit more optimistic, I submitted my dual-modular undergraduate degree and my postgraduate law degree to the New York Board, along with evidence that I was studying for my FE1s (Irish solicitor exams).

Employer references: I included two references with my application. The first was an academic reference. This was from my university lecturer and intern advisor. The letter referred to my grades in university and indicated that I was capable of passing the exam. Further, it referred to my legal experience at the law office based in Seattle in which I had interned. The second reference was from my current employer and referenced my legal experience, work ethic, and future ambitions.

Final touches: I submitted my own letter, along with my qualifications and references, and included the following points.

  1. A list of the criteria set by The Board, followed by details of how I met each of the criteria. Here I referenced my qualifications and experience.
  2. All of my legal experience, in particular, my work on U.S.-based cases.
  3. My future ambitions and how I planned to use the qualification upon admittance.
  4. My assumption that I could pass the bar based on my results to date.
  5. Finally, I politely requested that the New York Board grant my eligibility based on the information provided, which evidenced that I did in fact meet the criteria. I emphasized that an affirmative decision would greatly enhance my career opportunities.

I sent off this documentation in one package to ensure my information would be available at once, rather than received at intervals.

The Waiting Game

After nearly six months of waiting, I finally heard back from the New York Board. My eligibility to take the bar exam was confirmed.

As I look back, I can safely say that the extra paperwork I added to my application was certainly worth the effort. I would advise any student in a similar position to get in touch with BARBRI. We can advise on the best route for applying to the New York Board if you lack the exact criteria. A positive result can open many doors for law graduates and qualified practitioners alike.

Just remember, you may have to wait until you hear back from the New York Board of Law Examiners to start studying. So if you want to qualify sooner rather than later, make sure you give yourself plenty of time for the eligibility application.

Passing the New York Bar Helps Attorney Sharpen Her Global Skills

Successful foreign lawyer Alexia Maas benefits from her dual qualification as the global General Counsel for Volvo Financial Services in Greensboro, N.C.

I am Alexia Maas, Senior Vice President, General Counsel for Volvo Financial Services. I lead the global Legal & Compliance Function, which supports the business across the 48 countries in which it currently operates.

I originally qualified to practice law in Scotland in 1997. I then spent 16 years in private practice with large law firms in the U.K. and Norway as a corporate and banking lawyer. After working with CHC Helicopter as a client — at the time the world’s largest helicopter operator — I decided to take my shipping and aircraft finance experience in-house and went to work as European Counsel for the offshore transport company.

I developed a real passion for in-house work and, four years later, I was approached by Volvo Financial Services to join them as their Regional GC for the EMEA region based in Gothenburg, Sweden. I spent a year there before being promoted to SVP General Counsel for VFS and relocating to the company’s global headquarters in Greensboro, N.C.

Although there is not a strict requirement in North Carolina for foreign in-house lawyers to be dual qualified, I thought about the possibility of this changing in the future and ultimately decided that it would be in my best interest to become U.S. qualified. I chose to sit the New York Bar Exam because of its recognition in international law and commerce. I felt it was important from both a licensing perspective and in my new role as Global GC to be as well-versed in U.S. law as I was in UK and European Union law.

I looked around at the various online bar preparation courses and found there wasn’t much structure to a lot of the materials. One evening over dinner with some fellow GCs, the subject came up and many who had previously gone through the process recommended BARBRI.

I began with the Foundations in U.S. Law program as a first taste and then went all-in with the 6-month Extended U.S. Bar Prep course. In order to make the most of my time on top of a very demanding day job, I fully immersed myself in the course and tuned in to lectures while in my car, traveling, at lunch, and generally on the go. It’s amazing what you can absorb while just getting around and listening.

While the overall preparation for the bar and the time commitment were challenging, the actual part of studying wasn’t a difficult process with BARBRI. I used the BARBRI Personal Study Plan (PSP), Mini Review, and the BARBRI app to listen to the lectures whenever and wherever to dive in and zip through topics. As a foreign qualified lawyer, I found the course content to be right on point with regard to teaching the foundations of U.S. law and the need-to-know principles for the bar exam to quickly get up to speed.

The interactive learning tools were extremely effective, both for teaching the substantive law and for acquiring essential exam techniques. I watched and listened to the online lectures multiple times. Not only were they superbly delivered by excellent teachers, but they were highly entertaining as well.

I noticed right away after diving into studying that what I was learning was already useful in my day-to-day work as a global GC. The course helped me develop new knowledge and new expertise that was immediately relevant and helpful. Now I have this additional qualification that adds to the depth and breadth of my existing skills and competencies as a lawyer.

Taking the New York Bar Exam was definitely a commitment. But with BARBRI, it was a combination of everything that led to my success. The way it’s put together, by giving you what you need in little doses and not just through books to read, made such a difference.

Having graduated with my first law degree over 20 years ago, I felt far removed from being a student. Getting back in the mindset of studying and sitting an exam was quite the challenge, but BARBRI clearly knew just what would work. I wasn’t sure I would even pass the bar when I started the process. I ended up doing very well and passed the first time — thanks to the BARBRI methodology. It works!