Beyond Dubai

New York Bar Taker Looks to Extend Reach Beyond Dubai

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

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 program. 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, jetlag 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.

Global legal education provider BARBRI furthers commitment to SQE preparation with acquisition of Altior Consulting & Training from Kaplan

LONDON – Global legal education provider BARBRI is committed to delivering exceptional preparation for the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE), and in anticipation of the SQE’s inaugural administration in 2021, has acquired the entire assets of Kaplan Altior, a leading provider of the Professional Skills Course (PSC) for trainee solicitors.

With the completion of the transaction, BARBRI Altior will offer training courses, including the PSC, much of which will be integrated into the Solicitors Qualifying Exam.

All Altior employees will transition to BARBRI, which will continue to operate the PSC courses with the same venues and tutors. This acquisition is a key step for BARBRI’s UK strategy as the company continues to build and enhance its portfolio of courses for lawyers and professionals at all stages of their careers, and substantially increases the size and capabilities of its UK-based team.

Altior brings decades of experience and expertise in legal and professional training, with more than 65 long-serving, experienced trainers and assessors offering circa 50 courses. The company has over 750 law firm clients, including over 25% of the Top 100 UK law firms.

The new offerings complement and build on the success of QLTS Prep by BARBRI, the company’s comprehensive training for the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme, as well as its industry-leading BARBRI International Bar Review programme designed specifically to help non-U.S. law graduates pass the New York or California bar exam.

“This is an exciting development for BARBRI as we build our expertise in the SQE preparation course market,” said Sarah Hutchinson, managing director for BARBRI International. “Not only does it expand our team with an exceptional client service team, it also significantly enhances our base of experienced and well-respected tutors for specialist trainee and solicitor skills training.

“We are committed to maintaining the high standards Altior has set for its law firm and lawyer clients, including not only the trainees completing the PSC, but also those professionals accessing its extensive range of CPD courses.”

Peter Houillon, CEO of Kaplan Professional UK and Ireland, said: “We are delighted that our Kaplan Altior business will be joining BARBRI which has a strong reputation for high quality training in the legal sector.”

 

About The BARBRI Group

The BARBRI Group is a global learning company dedicated to meeting the legal education and specialised training needs of law students, lawyers and other professionals throughout their careers. BARBRI’s success is built upon its unmatched technology and innovative pedagogy, combined with the ability to harness data analytics, behavioural economics, learning science, and more to develop programmes for learners and institutions. Building on the success of its core bar courses, which have helped more than 1.3 million lawyers around the world pass a U.S. bar exam, BARBRI offers a comprehensive suite of learning solutions for higher education institutions and law- and finance-related businesses. These include U.S. bar prep, curriculum, assessment, global qualifications preparation, online programme management, and professional development. The BARBRI Group, founded in 1967, is a Leeds Equity Partners portfolio company headquartered in Dallas, Texas, with offices in London, the United States and around the world.

 

About Kaplan Altior

For 40 years, Kaplan Altior and its carefully selected panel of expert trainers and assessors have been delivering high quality, classroom-based, online and in-house skills training and assessments to its new and long-standing clients and delegates in the legal and professional services sectors across the UK.  Kaplan Altior’s innovative, flexible, cost-effective and broad training portfolio includes regulated courses and assessments such as the SRA’s Professional Skills Course (PSC), Trainee Litigation Programme (TLP) and Higher Rights of Audience, as well as accredited courses for other regulatory bodies such as CILEx and ACCA. In addition, Kaplan Altior provides a range of non-regulated courses including management, compliance and bespoke in-house courses which are designed to meet the continued professional competency requirements of lawyers in England and Wales.

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 transferability 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 globalised 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 NY 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 International Bar Preparation programme. It was a rather simple decision. With its reputation as the premier 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 personalised essay feedback. The way the course materials and personalised 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 webpages 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 International 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 centre 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, Guest Blogger and 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. state 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 six 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 practise 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 centre 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 programme 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 International 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 LLM 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 International Bar Preparation programme for my bar studies because I heard over and over again about the programme 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 practise questions. Thank goodness for my coach (or saviour) when studying grew tiresome and oh so time-consuming.

Not only did I feel quite supported throughout the entire course, but the BARBRI programme 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. state 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, Legal Director, BARBRI International

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 recognised 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 International specialises in 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 programmes provide an efficient and effective way to qualify as either a U.S. attorney or 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 recognised 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 practise 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 U.K.-trained solicitor, Olu decided to qualify to practise in the U.S. He undertook a BARBRI International programme 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 practise 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 International

If you are looking to internationalise 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. state 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 International Bar Preparation programmes are designed to fit your needs for balance, whatever they may be. The programmes 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 International offers 6-month and 10-month international bar review programmes. The 6-month programme 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 extended programme estimates 10-15 hours will be dedicated to learning each week. Although both programmes offer the same comprehensive curriculum, the 10-month programme is offered at a slower pace. It’s for this reason that I have chosen the 10-month programme 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 utilises 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 International Bar Preparation programme 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 programme 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, analysing 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 utilise 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 fulfil the 10-15 weekly hours of learning, and feel confident in my quest to pass the U.S. state bar exam.

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

Understanding the Bar Exam Character and Fitness Process

By Hemant Chauhan, Legal Coordinator, BARBRI International

If you are thinking about sitting a U.S. bar exam to qualify as an attorney in the United States with your current legal credentials or after obtaining your LL.M. degree from a U.S. law school, you should know that there is something that will test your character and fitness (beyond the bar exam itself). No, you won’t be required to prove you can run a mile without collapsing or debate your ability to exercise good judgment. However, you will be expected to show by clear and convincing evidence that you should be admitted to practise law in any U.S. jurisdiction.

The bar exam can differ greatly from state to state, but one common thread is that all applicants to the bar are required to complete an attorney application―as it is a privilege to practise law. For California, you will need to also complete a moral character application after sitting the bar exam and prior to becoming sworn in as a fully licensed U.S. attorney. These requirements are designed to protect the public from individuals whose past conduct demonstrates they may not be sound lawyers and to protect the legal profession’s reputation of integrity and trustworthiness.

When it comes to the character and fitness process, New York doesn’t begin the inquiry until after the bar exam is taken. Other states, such as California, begin the character and fitness screening when the applicant signs up to take the bar exam, usually at the end of law school.

The free BARBRI International Bar Exam Digest can give you all you need to know about every bar exam in every state. Here, we’ll focus on what to expect and how to best approach your character and fitness portion of the exam.

Candor is Critical

It is often said that honesty is the best policy, but I would emphasise that honesty is the only policy when it comes to answering the character and fitness questions. I’ve had attorneys within BARBRI tell me they’ve had to go so far as to list every credit card they’ve ever had and the current balance on each of those cards.

Suffice it to say that the character and fitness questionnaire can vary by jurisdiction, but the typical questionnaire will ask about:

  • Criminal and civil violations, including everything from convictions down to traffic tickets that led to fines or a suspension of your driver’s license
  • Academic attendance records
  • Exact addresses of where you have lived
  • Compliance with court orders
  • Mental health or substance abuse issues
  • Financial irregularities with regard to student loans, past due accounts, and more
  • Disciplinary actions during employment or in other professional situations

What you included in your law school application addendums will be scrutinised against what is found in your bar application and independent review. Nothing will send up a red flag to a character and fitness committee more than discovering you failed to disclose any past misconduct in your application.

If the character and fitness questionnaire raises concerns about your character, the bar admissions board may decide to conduct a more in-depth investigation. Usually, this is a face-to-face interview during which you will be required to produce evidence demonstrating current good moral character.

Don’t panic if you have something to report. If you are candid during the character and fitness process, can show that you have accepted responsibility for your actions, and have no immediate issues pending, then past missteps should not be a barrier to admission. If you have questions about whether or not to include something in your character and fitness application, the BARBRI International team can help guide you. You can also contact the bar examiners in the state in which you plan to sit the bar.

Project a Positive Presence

This probably goes without saying, but your social behavior—the image you convey online―is extremely important. Before entering the bar application process, or law school for that matter, make sure nothing you present publicly would call your character into question. Your social media presence should not raise any concerns about your character, professionalism, integrity, or overall fitness to join the legal community. To the extent there are any red flags, such as an ill-advised photograph or a misguided comment, now is the time to clean up your act.

The character and fitness process can be challenging but it doesn’t have to be a hurdle in qualifying as a U.S. attorney. By being open and honest on the character and fitness questionnaire, you can show that you are poised to become a respected and valuable member of the U.S. legal profession.

NYSBA Membership: BARBRI Extended U.S. Bar Prep & QLTS Prep Alums

BARBRI Extended U.S. Bar Prep and BARBRI QLTS Prep students and alumni enjoy a free 2-year membership to the New York State Bar Association (NYSBA)the International section and one additional section of your choice.

ABOUT NYSBA

For more than 140 years, NYSBA has been the voice of the legal profession in New York state. Our mission is to shape the development of law, educate and inform the public and respond to the demands of our diverse and ever-changing legal profession. NYSBA advocates for state and federal legislation and works tirelessly to promote equal access to justice for all. The tens of thousands of NYSBA members from around the world offer unprecedented networking and other opportunities, along with periodic meetings in many jurisdictions.

NYSBA is organized into sections, each of which covers a substantive practice area. The free 2-year NYSBA Membership offered to BARBRI Extended U.S. Bar Prep and QLTS Prep alumni and students includes membership in the international section and one additional section of your choice.

> Learn More About NYSBA

NYSBA International

NYSBA International is comprised of about 2,000 members, approximately half of which are located outside the United States, with approximately 65 chapters outside of the U.S. generally organized by country. NYSBA International substantive committees cover topics such as transportation law, trusts and estates, and cross-border litigation. Chapters have regular meetings and events such as receptions and seminars.

NYSBA International is involved in a wide range of substantive activities, including commenting on pending legislation, representing NYSBA at the United Nations (where we have observer status and are delegates to the U.N. Committee on International Trade Law), and promoting the use of New York law in international matters. The International Section also has two publications, the New York International Law Review, and the International Law Practicum.

Each fall, NYSBA International holds a Seasonal Meeting outside the United States rotating between Europe, the Americas and Asia. The International Section also holds a Regional Meeting many years, typically in Europe. Smaller in scope than a Seasonal Meeting, the regional meeting are usually about two days and are intended to engage and invigorate our chapters in the regions and to identify possible Seasonal Meeting locations. As a NYSBA International Member, you may register for these meetings or any other activities at the Member Rate.

If you are currently a BARBRI Extended U.S. Bar Prep or a BARBRI QLTS Prep student or alumni and wish to learn more about your NYSBA membership, please reach out to internationalenquiries@barbri.com.

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.