California Bar Exam: Trouble Spots and How to Conquer Them

By Steve Levin, BARBRI Senior Director of Essay Testing

Unless you’ve already taken a different U.S. bar exam, the California Bar Exam probably is unlike any exam you’ve ever taken in your life. It’s certainly more expansive than any exam you faced in law school and makes finals week look like child’s play.

Imagine preparing for finals in about 18 subjects (technically 16, but you have to know both the California rules and the federal rules for two of them). Challenging? You bet, but not impossible. I’d like to go over some of the details of the exam to make you more comfortable and to help improve your outcome.

The Exam at a Glance

The California Bar Exam is a two-day exam (breathe a sigh of relief—until recently, it was a three-day exam) comprised of three pieces:

  • The MBE (Multistate Bar Exam): A 200-question multiple choice test given in 2 three-hour sessions
  • The PT (Performance Test): A 90-minute practical exercise in which you will be asked to do something a first-year lawyer might be asked to do using a file and library containing all the information you’ll need to respond
  • The California Essays: Five essay questions designed to be answered in one hour each (three in the morning and two in the afternoon, along with the PT) on any one or more of the following subjects:
    • Civil Procedure
    • Agency
    • Constitutional Law
    • California Civil Procedure
    • Contracts (including Sales)
    • California Evidence
    • Criminal Law
    • Community Property
    • Criminal Procedure
    • Corporations
    • Evidence
    • Partnerships & LLCs
    • Real Property
    • Professional Responsibility
    • Torts
    • Trusts
    • Wills

Issue Spotting

The essays present a few trouble spots for many students. The first involves issue spotting. Most of the questions are short—less than a page long, including the interrogatories at the end of the stories. But they are packed, and I mean packed, with issues. And while some exams hand you the issues “on a silver platter”, in many California questions you have to work just to figure out what the issues are.

For example, the following two interrogatories were in a February 2018 question:

  1. What challenges under the United States Constitution, if any, could Ivan reasonably raise to the dining hall quotations, and what is the likely outcome? Discuss.
  2. What challenges under the United States Constitution, if any, could Ivan reasonably raise to the denial of his requests for the book and the tea, and what is the likely outcome? Discuss.

Do you have any idea what is at issue? Also, note how the interrogatories say “what challenges”—as in, there could be (and on the California Bar, likely are) more than one. And, how much should you write; how many issues should you be looking for? When is enough, enough?

How will you know what issues to look for? Look at questions from previous exams and review answers addressing them. The California Bar Exam has been around a long time and there is not much new under the sun. What has been tested in the past is a pretty good indicator of what is likely to be tested in the future.

Formatting

The second stumbling block is formatting ―how should answers be formatted? This is a trick question to some degree. Many students (and some instructors, too) think there is a magic formula, but there really isn’t. If you check out the California Bar Examination instructions website, you’ll see a lot of gobbledygook about this.

The important thing to note is that the examiners want answers written in a “lawyer-like manner.” This is a logically written answer that sets out a conclusion and supports it by discussing the applicable law and the facts that lead to the conclusion.

Now you know issue spotting is important for your score, and analysis counts too. Be prepared to note what the issues are, tell the examiner what law controls, and state what facts are important in reaching whatever conclusion you reach. And, yes, you should reach a conclusion. All of these things are important.

Timing

Another stumbling block for some students on the essay portion of the exam is timing. Students often run out of time. Despite how it may seem, each question is worth the same number of points. So you really should be spending no more than one hour on any particular question and should avoid skipping questions of which you are unsure. This will keep time on your side.

Keep BARBRI in Mind

To help you in your preparation, BARBRI selects California essays for practice that cover the issues most likely to arise on the bar exam. If you prepare with BARBRI and work through the practice essays assigned, you will have seen a majority of the issues that will appear on your essay exam and will be ready to conquer them.

About the author: Steve Levin has passed the bar exam in 10 U.S. jurisdictions with scores in the top 1% of the exam takers.

How to Succeed on the MBE

By Roger Meslar, BARBRI Senior Director, Assessments and MBE Content

What are three things we know about the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE)?

Well, with 200 questions to answer over a period of six hours, we know it’s a demanding test. With seven major areas of substantive law tested, we also know there are questions on a wide range of issues and sub-issues within those areas of law. And with each multiple-choice question drafted by a committee of law professors, we know your reading comprehension skills will be tested like never before.

That may be a lot to take in but know that BARBRI has you covered. With our expertise and guidance, you will be ready when the MBE time comes. Here are some ways to prepare for success on the exam.

Practice to the Clock

To help you build up the physical and mental endurance you will need for the MBE, BARBRI provides you with thousands of MBE practice questions, including two complete 200-question practice exams and three complete 100-question half exams. The secret to success here is to do practice exams under timed conditions to replicate, as much as possible, the actual bar exam experience.

BARBRI’s 200-question simulated MBE provides you with a detailed score analysis comparing your performance to every other BARBRI student taking the exam. This score report highlights how you are performing on every topic and subtopic, so you can adjust how you are studying based on this report. So, make sure you take this exam when you see it on the schedule.

Focus Where It Matters Most

A smart study strategy is to focus on the areas of law most heavily tested on the MBE. BARBRI’s MBE subject matter experts have analyzed the MBE for decades and have identified the most important areas to target. Don’t try to master every single one of the thousands of rules and concepts that could be tested, or you may find yourself overwhelmed and anxious about your preparation.

BARBRI’s adaptive Personal Study Plan (PSP) focuses your assignments on the core areas that are most heavily tested to help you allocate your time most efficiently. And when you read the Conviser Mini Review, you will see a host of charts and exam tips that zero in on the issues that come up regularly on the exam. Also, just like with the simulated MBE, the percentile rank information you get on all of your online MBE assignments tells you where your weak areas are. Use this information to study smarter, not harder.

Learn from Each Question

Learn how to read and analyze MBE multiple-choice questions. MBE success is not about how many questions you answer each day or throughout your preparation; it’s about how much you learn from each question you answer. BARBRI’s MBE Workshops teach you a systematic problem-solving strategy you can use on any question you encounter on the bar exam. This strategy helps you quickly identify the issue being tested and the key facts that point you to the correct answer.

For each question you work, you should also determine whether you got the question right or wrong, whether your analysis of the question was on-point, and whether you identified and understood the narrow rule being tested in the question. Reading through the explanatory answer for each question is vital to your success.

One more thing we know about the MBE: BARBRI has decades of experience helping students all over the world pass it. Trust us to help you do the same!

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 International

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 employability 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 whilst 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 emphasised 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 practise law in Scotland in 1997. I then spent 16 years in private practise 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 U.K. and European Union law.

I looked around at the various online bar review programmes 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 programme as a first taste and then went all-in with the 6-month extended programme. In order to make the most of my time on top of a very demanding day job, I fully immersed myself in the programme 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.

Whilst 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, 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 programme 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!

Making it in Manhattan

Aoife Moore Kavanagh,
Associate Attorney, Law Office of James G. McCarney

Making It In Manhattan

Following on from the brilliant news that I had passed the New York Bar exam, I channeled all my excited energy into the next obstacle I had to overcome: Getting a job in New York City. There is no quick fix for landing an attorney role in the Big Apple. It’s fiercely competitive, hugely oversaturated and as a non-U.S citizen, there is the whole visa process to consider. I spent 5 months applying for jobs on every jobs website I could find. When I ran out of vacancies to apply for, I googled “litigation firms in New York City” and started sending my resume and cover letter to every single firm on the list, from A-Z. I was offered an associate position quite early on in my search which I decided to turn down after much deliberation. I wanted to be a lawyer in New York so badly it felt wrong to not take the offer but I knew I wouldn’t have been happy there. The firm was located outside of the city and I really wanted to be in Manhattan. If I had ignored my gut feeling I wouldn’t have ended up where I am today! I probably sent over 1,000 applications and had around 12 interviews before I finally landed my dream job.

Manhattan

I am now typing this from my desk at the Law Offices of James G. McCarney where I am an associate attorney. I work in the Financial District in Manhattan right across from Wall Street. On my second day, I had my very own case which I handled in court by myself, and I won! It felt amazing, walking in there in my new suit, the clerk referring to me as “counselor”, the judge calling my case and my very first time approaching the bench. The place where only lawyers are allowed to go! Walking out and calling my client to give them the good news, then calling my boss to tell him the same. I’ll never forget it. It was in that moment that I knew it was all worth it, all the studying, the endless paperwork, the dedication and perseverance, the disappointment when it didn’t go to plan, dusting myself off and trying again. It all led me to where I am now, exactly where I’ve always wanted to be: Practising law as an attorney in NYC.

International Student Sits New York Bar: A Personal Insight

Hemant Chauhan,
Legal Coordinator — BARBRI International

Having recently sat the New York Bar exam in July 2018, I can certainly tell you that was the most difficult legal examination I have sat to date.

International Student Sits New York Bar

Having arrived at JFK Airport from London Heathrow a week before the exam, I felt it important to be in a relaxed mind-frame before sitting the bar examination, having prepared 10 months of U.S. law beforehand. I spent some quality time in Brooklyn, New York, and explored the city for all it was to exhibit. New York City is truly the city that never sleeps!

There is certainly a buzz and a positive vibe that transcends throughout, and it is reflected in the people. Seeing the Statue of Liberty, Wall Street, Central Park and other attractions all made me realise why I was preparing for the New York Bar Exam. It certainly put things into perspective, drawing law to fact patterns, and to the practice of life.

Passing the U.S. Bar Exam is about your competency to practice law, and knowledge of the law with all its nuances and complexities; being able to deal with people from all walks of life. Those are the key ingredients of a successful attorney.

That being said, the New York Bar Exam was difficult. There were hundreds of students packed in my particular exam centre in Albany, New York. A mixture of international and domestic JD candidates. Security was tight, ensuring fairness and equality.

The first day comprised of the Multistate Performance Test (MPT) and Multistate Essay Exam (MEE). A number of examinees found that it took them longer than the allotted 90 minutes to complete the persuasive brief. And many examinees found the uncommon task to be especially tricky. Taking the MPT is about preparing for the unknown.

On the whole, the issues tested on the essays were slightly more challenging those on the February 2018 exam. The Examiners certainly favoured the MBE subjects on the essays this time around, continuing the trend from February 2018.

The second day was the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE). The crucial day of 200 multiple-choice questions. It was difficult to sleep; I had a restless night. I knew I had revised constant amounts, but knew it was impossible to remember everything. I had to trust my preparation.

It was an exhausting day. The proctors constantly walking down the centre, the clock ticking away, all heads down into complex fact patterns, spending no more than 1.8 minutes per question. I had prepared well with BARBRI International, having spent numerous amounts practicing MBE questions for an entire 10 months. I was disciplined and kept within the time limits.

It is difficult to ascertain how I scored.  At this stage, it is too early to tell, or predict. I am just glad to be on the other side of the exam. For now, I am enjoying my work within the New York offices and enjoying the city. I am preparing for other admission examinations in the meantime, and glad I had thoroughly prepared with BARBRI International. Practice makes perfect!

The One Thing You Need to Know / Do to Pass the Bar Exam

By Sam Farkas, Esq,
BARBRI Curriculum Architect and Instructor

As you approach the bar exam, you’re likely to hear all kinds of “quick fix” advice, which often sounds something like, “to pass, all you really need to do is ________.” You are a trained critical thinker, so hopefully, any bar success claim beginning with, “all you have to do is…” triggers suspicion.

As the old saying goes, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

At BARBRI, we’ve heard everything from “create your own study plan” to “you only need this book,” “you only need to work 1,000 multiple-choice questions,” or “you only need to study for 100 hours.” The list goes on and on. Assuming these claims are even true (dig in a bit and you often find that those making these claims actually worked harder than they suggest), why experiment and risk your one opportunity to be a first-time bar passer?  Sure, an applicant with a strong knowledge of the law, excellent study, reading, analytical and writing skills, who faces no real consequences if he/she fails, and who is committed to proving all the doubters wrong, might be able to eke out a passing score. But, like all dubious advertisement claims, such advice should come with that fine print disclaimer: “individual results may vary.”

For any significant achievement like passing the bar exam, there are no simple one-size-fits-all shortcuts to bypass the work required for success.

There is simply no amount of “good luck” that can overcome a deficit of knowledge on this exam. When you walk into the exam room, you want to know that you gave it your all. You want to know that you followed an effective bar prep plan, did the work and took ownership of your success. BARBRI Bar Review provides you with a Personal Study Plan (PSP) that maximizes your study investment by focusing you on what is most important for you to pass the exam. It leverages science and technology to boost learning and progress, and it works in partnership with you, adjusting to your schedule, strengths and weaknesses, and performance. With the PSP, you will not stress about what law to focus on or what practice questions to work. You will not have to worry about whether you are on track for success. You will not have to wonder how you are doing in comparison to the vast majority of applicants taking the exam with you. When you allow the experts to guide you through your preparation, you get to focus on what matters most— learning what you need to pass the bar.

So, here’s one thing you really do need to know to pass the bar exam.

There is no such thing as luck. Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. Your opportunity is set. What are you doing to prepare for it?

The New York Bar Exam: A Guide for Foreign Applicants

Hemant Chauhan,
Legal Coordinator — BARBRI International

So you want to be a US Qualified, State of New York Attorney?

Want to add a glamorous qualification to your CV? Thinking of emigrating to the States? Perhaps want to practice in New York?  You have arrived at the right place. This article will provide you an overview of the New York Bar Exam, and tips for those seeking to take this prestigious qualification.

Eligibility

Before selecting a Bar Review provider, you need to establish whether you are, indeed, eligible to undertake the examination.  If you do this straight away, you will be minimising the fundamental risk as to whether you will be confirmed eligible, as the examination arrives nearer. I have selected a reputable, fantastic course provider, BARBRI International, that stresses upon this element, first and foremost. You should allow up to 6 months for confirmation of eligibility. It is the student’s responsibility to make a timely application.

Foreign applicants are required to send supporting documents to the New York State Board of Law Examiners. The New York Board of Law Examiners will request that you supply the following documents:

1.  University Transcripts

  • Request a copy from your University in a sealed stamped envelope.
  • Some Universities will send the documents directly to New York, others will send them out to you and you will need to forward them to New York. NB. Do not open the transcripts before you send them to NY.
  • Transcripts must be in English/ translated into English. Ensure credits are listed on the transcripts.
  • It may be useful to request two sets of transcripts from the University. This way you can check that you are sending the correct document.
  • If your university uses an electronic transcript system, print a copy of the transcripts, and ask your university to stamp them as a true copy. Send them in a stamped sealed envelope.

2.  Copy of your Degree Certificate

3.  Practicing Certificate OR

4.  Letter from the Solicitor’s Regulatory Authority/Law Society of the applicable country

Once eligibility has been confirmed, foreign applicants will need to register for the exam. To sit the July exam, register between April 1st- 30th. To sit the February exam, register between November 1st–30th. There are no exceptions/late filing deadlines. There is a fee of $750. There is an option to defer your registration fee to the next sitting of the exam. You need to contact New York directly to discuss this, in the event you have applied for eligibility less than 6 months before registering to sit the exam. You may not have your eligibility confirmed before registration.

Structure & Layout of the Bar Exam

The Bar exam is a gruelling, two-day examination: 6 hours each day.  Stamina and endurance under timed pressure will be crucial elements to passing the exams. There are three different components to the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE):

  • Multistate Essay Exam topics include:
    Business Association; Agency & Partnership, Corporation, Limited Liability Companies, Conflict of Laws, Family Law, Trust & Estates; Wills & Trusts, Future Interests, Uniform Commercial Code. These are tested on Day 1 only (+ MBE subjects listed below)
  • Multistate Performance Test
    Practical element of being a lawyer. All information needed to complete question is supplied in the question.
  • Multistate Bar Exam Topics Include:
    Federal Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Contracts/ Sales, Criminal Law & Procedure, Evidence, Real Property & Torts. These are tested on Day 1 & 2.  200 multiple choice questions across 8 subjects. They are mixed. No labels for the question. Your mind will need to be racing through all the laws to issue-spot which area the examiners are testing.

Uniform Bar Exam Marking

The Multistate Bar Exam is worth 50%, the Multistate Essay Exam is worth 30% & the Multistate Performance Test is worth 20%. The total score is 400. New York has set the passing score at 266. Aim to get over 60% in all parts. The % pass rate varies from year to year.

On a further note, it is crucial to note that the pass rate has been reducing every year.  Statistics drop even more for foreign candidates.  In fact, pass rates are now at the very lowest in approximately 20 years.  Do not be scared.  This is just a warning that you need to be disciplined to master the material and practice, practice, practice.  Practice makes perfect.  BARBRI’s statistical evidence that 76% of students who complete 80%+ of the Personal Study Plan pass.

Admission Requirements

You will need to complete the following to fulfil the requirements for admission as a NY Attorney:

(i) New York Law Examination (NYLE):
It comprises of 50 multiple choice questions. It is a 2-hour open book test and can be completed online. You can sit this exam four times annually. The New York Law Course prepares you for the exam and can be found free of charge on the New York Bar website (www.nybarexam.org). It can be completed one year before the bar exam or three years’ after. The pass mark is 30/50. Subjects tested include; Administrative Law, Business Relationships, Civil Practice & Procedure, Evidence, Matrimonial & Family Law, Professional Responsibility, Real Property, Torts & Tort Damages and Trusts, Wills & Estates.

(ii) The Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE):
This exam is 2 hours’ long and includes 60 questions. It is administered 3 times a year. It is required for admission to all state bars, apart from Maryland & Wisconsin. Passing scores are on a scale of 50-150. NY requires a scaled score of 85.

(iii) Pro Bono Requirement:
The final requirement for admission is 50 hours of Pro Bono Work. The work should be legal in nature and must be unpaid. You should look for work involving legal research/ advice. The work must be signed off by a practicing lawyer, in the jurisdiction the work is completed in.

There is no doubt that there is a lot of effort, hard work, and discipline required to pass the Bar exam, and to fulfil the admission requirements in order to become a licensed attorney. But if you want to pursue this qualification, as I am in the midst of doing so, the rewards are great.

For further support visit BARBRI International, who can offer tailored advice on the New York Bar process.

New York Bar… The Advantages and Disadvantages for UK students

Hemant Chauhan,
Legal Coordinator — BARBRI International

The search for that elusive training contract or pupillage remains as competitive as ever.

The law market is saturated with law students who have completed their respective qualifications, but unable to secure a position within a law firm or chambers. Many have impressive CVs, stellar academics, and have varied experiences that set them apart from the competition, but even then it is not enough.

The New York Bar appears to be an impressive qualification to add to your belt. London hosts over 100 U.S. law firms, servicing both UK and international clients. I, too, have decided to study for this U.S. qualification because I have always had an interest in qualifying in the Big Apple, as opposed to the domestic UK route. There appear to be merits and weaknesses to the qualification, but it is contended that for students, the merits do outweigh the weaknesses.  The New York Bar is a highly prized asset, not least because you can immediately be billed out as a qualified Attorney-at-Law, rather than just a UK Trainee Solicitor.

There are several attractions to the New York Bar.

Having the qualification will enable you to be admitted to practice in New York State, as long as you have fulfilled the other requirements the New York State Board of Law Examiners have set. The US qualification process is very different to the UK. There is no training contract requirement.  For those who want to practice international commercial law, this U.S. qualification ‘fits the bill’ so to speak. It is based on common law, and New York law underpins a lot of contractual cross-border transactional deals, alongside England & Wales.

It is a shame that the majority of the careers departments at the UK Universities only advertise the traditional UK route: pursuing the standard Legal Practice Course (LPC) after the LLB undergraduate degree; the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) for those who want to become barristers.  The LPC is incredibly expensive, now ranged between approximately £10,000 – £15,000.

There is a dilemma here. Many law firms, except the City firms, that offer training contracts do not sponsor students to undertake the LPC, but expect you to undertake it to be considered for a traineeship, working on a substantially lower salary, considering the expense.  The search for an alternative is imperative for those who can not afford to maintain the traditions of the UK legal profession.

The cost of the New York Bar suddenly becomes more appealing.  It is significantly cheaper than the LPC, so it makes sense economically. You are eligible to take it upon graduation from a three-year, face-to-face, LLB degree, with no requirement to be qualified.  The route, it is argued, is a better alternative to qualification for those who are unable to follow standard routes. Here’s the kicker… you are further eligible to dual-qualify in England & Wales as a qualified solicitor! And not only that… by taking the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme… there is no training contract requirement!

So what are the downsides here…I have spoken to several lawyers in the profession who are dubious about the New York Bar. One disadvantage, they argue, is utility. We practice English law, so why qualify into a foreign jurisdiction where there is no relevance. A further disadvantage is that many prefer people to have undertaken a traditional route because it is far more familiar. Some may argue that it leads to the makings of a better, equipped lawyer. I, however, disagree.  If there is a cheaper alternative to qualification, why is this not advertised more? Further, with the new Solicitor Super Exam looming, which will replace the LPC in 2020, now more students will be seriously considering their routes into qualification.

It is not just the ability to qualify in the UK… let’s not forget the potential prospects of plan B! Working in Manhattan, an iconic city, living the American Dream, is just too good an opportunity to turn down. I have been fortunate to have selected the Bar Review programme with BARBRI International, priced at $5995.00, a leading provider for US Bar programmes. They have a stellar reputation and ensure you stick to their tested methods and expertise, in order to pass this gruelling examination. There are other recognised suppliers of the Bar Exams so consider wisely with their reputations.

Of course, I acknowledge that many will have mixed reviews.  However, UK law students need to be aware of this so they have all the options before them, before deciding which course would best serve their career paths. As the corporate world becomes ever more globalised and focused on international transactions, this qualification would certainly be of benefit.

DRIVEN TO QUALIFY AS A U.S. ATTORNEY, FROM A TINY IRISH VILLAGE TO THE BIG APPLE

Captivated by American lifestyle and opportunities, Dublin law graduate Aoife Moore Kavanagh made sure to do whatever it took – with the help of BARBRI – to pass the New York Bar Exam.

MY NAME IS AOIFE MOORE KAVANAGH and my desire to qualify as a U.S. attorney actually began in San Francisco during summer work travel through the J-1 Visa Exchange Visitor program. I loved the adventure and realized there were far more opportunities in America than back home in my tiny Irish village, which also happens to be in the smallest county in Ireland. As a Dublin City University law graduate, I knew if I wanted to qualify abroad, I would have to learn the U.S. legal system with the right U.S. law course provider.

After some research, I came across the BARBRI International 6-month Home Study Program. I attended twice a week while working a retail position, packing what American students learn in three years into that 6-month timeframe. When the BARBRI course finished, I left my job to concentrate full-time on studying for the New York Bar Exam prior to returning to the United States to sit the exam.

The people, the crowds, the lights. Everything about New York City captivated me. After taking the bar exam, I decided to extend my stay. I spent three months relishing every opportunity New York had to offer, making meaningful connections along the way. I even met the love of my life. I fit in perfectly.

Then I got the news that I hadn’t passed the New York Bar Exam.

I was absolutely devastated but I knew I had no choice, I had to try again. I owed it to myself to give it my very best shot and now that I knew New York was where I wanted to be, I had a new-found drive and longing.

I took advantage of the BARBRI Guarantee and, for the next two months, I focused solely on the exam using BARBRI. There were times when I couldn’t even remember the last time I got dressed. I lived and breathed American law materials. I recorded myself reciting rules and fell asleep listening to them. I studied 9-plus hours a day, six days a week. And slowly but surely, the time came around for me to fly back and retake the exam. I knew I had done everything conceivably possible to make sure I would pass. That’s what it takes to ensure success.

An email is how I received my results. No set date or time. Just an email that suddenly arrives in your inbox to inform you of your future. It took me a full day to pluck up the courage to open that email. The passing score in New York is 266. I got 289. I kept checking it over and over, I thought I wasn’t seeing straight! And now I’m preparing my application for admission to practice as an attorney in the greatest place in the world, from my tiny little village in the smallest county in Ireland.

I encountered negative reactions on my journey from people who didn’t think it was worth my while to do a course to learn the laws of another jurisdiction. They told me it was extremely difficult for foreign examinees and I would have to accept that it was unlikely my dreams would become reality, but I am proof that it can be done. I would love for my story to inspire others who may be thinking about doing a U.S. Bar Exam and let them know it is 100% possible.