The Countdown Begins!

Guest Blog by Tiffany Khoo, LLB
London School of Economics and Political Science graduate

Believe it or not, its been about 8 months since I started preparing for the NY Bar with BARBRI!

Over the past few months, I’ve been trying to do my best to stay on top of the work we’ve been assigned and juggle the requirements of working full-time. Almost stubbornly, I’ve made weekend plans every week and try to squeeze in study time in the pockets of time I have remaining.

But with April comes the realisation that there is not much time left! Most of us have registered for the exam and put down the $750 fee so there’s no turning back now! With that in mind, I’ve decided to put myself on an exam “detox”, so to speak, with fewer weekend excursions and more focused studying.

As part of this “detox”, I will be restricting my social media use to half an hour a day, which includes Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram time. I’ll be heading out for dinner with my friends tonight to celebrate the end of the work week (Friyays!) but after this, outings with friends will have to wait till August.

Part of why I feel the need to set such boundaries for myself is that work responsibilities have increased. I’ve been working for as long as I’ve been with BARBRI and over these last 8 months, the work assigned to me has increased in number and complexity. Don’t get me wrong – it’s such a great opportunity to be able to work and study at the same time, but it can be so tiring after a long work day to crack open the books and go through more law (even if it is in another jurisdiction!). So, I believe that if I set aside more time to study over the weekend, I can truly unwind on the weekdays!

As we enter revision period, I wish my peers the best! For those just starting on the BARBRI journey, good luck! Enjoy the lectures, the learning and the community! There’s nothing quite like having people from across the globe sharing notes and sharing jokes. ”

Best,
Tiffany

PASSING THE NY BAR EXAM WAS THE PLAN, IT WAS ONLY A MATTER OF TIME.

Amanda Lee always planned to pass the New York Bar Exam and with BARBRI, nothing would stop her – not even a broken watch during the bar exam – as she achieved U.S. qualification.

MY NAME IS AMANDA LEE and, since I can remember, I always wanted to be a lawyer able to practice New York law in the United States. Sitting the New York Bar Exam was always part of my plan, it was just a matter of time. Today, I am successfully dual-qualified as a New York attorney – U.S. qualified with the help of BARBRI – and a Solicitor Advocate at Seymours, a commercial law practice in the City of London.

Perhaps inspired by my U.S. qualification goal, my legal career has always had a global dimension: practising international commercial arbitration and litigation, with a particular interest in ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution). Having a specific long-term plan required diligent steps along the way. I began researching bar review options while at university and when the time came to prepare for the New York Bar Exam it was clear that BARBRI was the logical choice. I enrolled on the BARBRI International Bar Preparation course in 2011 and studied while practicing full-time as a Solicitor.

SIMPLY STATED, BARBRI PROVIDES THE BLUEPRINT FOR HOW TO PASS A U.S. BAR EXAM.

The program is carefully constructed to teach you and guide you through what it takes to prepare and provide you with the right skills to pass. The BARBRI lectures delivered an expert overview of the tested bar topics and the scope of study materials equipped me with solid techniques to perform with proficiency on the multiple-choice (MBE) question portion of the exam.

In describing BARBRI International Bar Preparation, I choose the words “highly effective” – if you commit to doing the work and apply the techniques you will pass the bar exam. It’s an exercise in endurance, time management and information retention due to the sheer volume of material involved. The BARBRI course prepared me well to overcome any unforeseen challenges (such as my watch stopping on the morning of the exam) and get through the exam successfully.

To anyone with the goal of passing a U.S. bar exam and becoming U.S. qualified – go with BARBRI, make the time, do the work, apply the techniques and you’ll be in the best position to pass.

Challenge Seekers

Nora Garaz, Legal Co-ordinator

Blog by Nora Garaz,
Legal Coordinator

Hello my fellow challenge seekers,

Studying law has always filled me with a certain level of satisfaction. I love learning, and the different modules throughout law school kept me entertained enough to actually graduate. And while I am a hopeless traveler, I am also a challenge seeker. So, it didn’t come as a surprise, that just weeks after graduation I embarked on a journey with BARBRI. And when I say a journey, I mean it!

The study whenever, wherever program allowed me to do the course while I was traveling. I was able to download my lectures on my phone and watch them offline on my long-haul flights. The 10-month part-time study requires only 10-15 hours of study a week. Yes, I spent a couple of hours listening to tort lectures during my California vacation, but I was rocking the rest of my time on the beach and downtown.

Earlier this year I popped my lecture notes into my carry on and I was off to Iceland for the weekend. Spent a couple of hours in a coffee shop to warm up and to read through my notes. And the evening? I was off to hunt for the Aurora Borealis, the infamous Northern Lights.

Just because I am studying for the New York Bar, my life didn’t stop.

I am working full time and travelling abroad whenever I can. I needed to get creative in how I use my time and study material. I follow my Personal Study Plan, which allocates my study load for me. I use the BARBRI app to view material offline and use the books when I do intensive studying.

So, I would encourage you to sign up and challenge yourself to further your legal career and still have time for the things that matter.

EARLY EXPERIENCES IN U.S. CAPITOL PAVE WAY TO QUALIFYING AS A U.S. ATTORNEY

Before joining a Magic Circle law firm in London, Hannah McCarthy worked in Washington, D.C., interned with a U.S. Senator and passed the New York Bar Exam – using the BARBRI International home study program.

MY NAME IS HANNAH McCARTHY and I passed the New York Bar in February 2015. I am currently working in international arbitration with a Magic Circle law firm in London and just completed my last set of exams as part of the Qualified Lawyer Transfer Scheme (QLTS), which foreign qualified lawyers can take in order to qualify as an English solicitor.

I originally studied Law and Business at Trinity College, Dublin, and after graduating in 2014, I wanted to explore my options. I was fortunate enough to be offered a place on the Washington Ireland Program (WIP) and spent the summer after graduation working for a communications firm in Washington, D.C.

I ended up spending an additional three months in the U.S. Capitol, working for the Democratic Party on their congressional campaigns before interning a few weeks for U.S. Senator Charles “Chuck” Schumer (D-New York).

It was during this time that I decided to study for the New York Bar Exam and give myself some greater flexibility in term of employment prospects as a U.S. qualified attorney.

After completing BARBRI Bar Review using the course’s flexible home study program, I took the New York bar exam in February 2015. The following week, I began work as a paralegal for a law firm located in Times Square in Midtown Manhattan while I waited to hear if I had passed (which very thankfully I did).

After my stint in New York and prior to beginning my master’s degree, I returned to Dublin and landed a position within the legal team of Twitter’s European office for four months. I joined my current firm upon finishing up my master’s degree.

Every day I am working with smart people who are really interested and engaged in their work. With the practice being international, many of the lawyers are dual-qualified. Having passed the New York Bar Exam and being qualified as a U.S. attorney is certainly helpful.

HAPPY LUNAR NEW YEAR: A Two Week Affair

Guest Blog by Tiffany Khoo, LLB
London School of Economics and Political Science graduate

Happy Lunar New Year!

Celebrations have always been a wonderful thing, but with the Bar Exam inching closer, I’ve started to dread the festivities that come with these celebrations, knowing I have to really work at managing my time better!

For those who don’t celebrate it, the Lunar New Year is a 2 week affair, filled with lots of family gatherings, large dinners, and an abundance of firecrackers. The days are spent with house visits and red packet collection (filled with money!), whilst the nights are spent at Chinese restaurants as we eat the evening away.

You’re probably wondering, what about the studying? I’ve been trying to keep up to date with my Personal Study Plan and although the weekly work assigned is reasonable, taking the time to sit down and watch lectures or prepare for a 200 question mock exam was really difficult! In fact, I’m holding off sitting my mock exam as I’ve been so busy in the last two weeks!

I’m so grateful though that the material is interesting and really relevant. In light of the recent US elections and exercise of power by the newly elected President, it’s been particularly enjoyable to learn Constitutional Law and the limits and breadth of power that the executive and judiciary have. This also reminds me of how useful it is to have an international qualification from the US! As such an important country, American news affects all of us in the rest of the world and having an understanding of the legal implications of certain acts definitely makes for more interesting table talk. I look forward to the opportunities that will come with passing the New York Bar.

That is, if I stick to my study schedule.

A word of advice to my fellow peers – definitely don’t fall behind! If you know you’ll be busy for a particular week, maybe plan to study a little more the week beforehand. Once you’ve fallen behind, although it’s by no means impossible to catch up, it does become very challenging! It’s also crucial that we maintain our health. Trying to study when unwell can be counterproductive so load up on fruits and veggies, everyone!

Till next time!

ON THE YEAR OF THE ROOSTER, COMMIT TO MASTERING YOUR LEGAL ENGLISH SKILLS

Natalia M. Urrea

Natalia M. Urrea, BARBRI Director,
International Business Development

ON THE YEAR OF THE ROOSTER, COMMIT TO MASTERING YOUR LEGAL ENGLISH SKILLS

I find long-haul flights to be some of the best places to focus and be most productive. On my most recent flight to Doha, I was reviewing a proposed licensing agreement from a potential Chinese business partner; I had been corresponding with their legal and management team for weeks and we were negotiating some of the final details. As I wrote bullet points summarizing the relevant legal implications, considering potential trade-off concessions, and suggesting next steps to my management team, I felt fortunate to be able to have this exchange with our potential Chinese partners in English. I do not speak Chinese, and English is not even my native language (Spanish is), yet our English and legal English language abilities allowed us to clearly communicate across borders, cultures, and legal systems.

It is widely acknowledged that English is the lingua franca of international business and transactions, cross border litigations, negotiations, and even academia. English also continues to reign as the dominant language at multinational companies. Nowadays, many significant legal transactions have an international dimension where it is commonplace to have colleagues, clients, products or services in different parts of the world. English is by default the language used in all of these exchanges and the lawyer must be able to not only communicate in English at a high level, but also master legal English in order to convey legal principles, concepts and terminology in the English language.

Additionally, legal language is inseparable from the law and the legal system in which it is used.

Legal English proficiency therefore requires an understanding of the exact meanings of legal terms as well as an understanding of how the legal concepts developed and are used in common law legal systems. In spite of its technical complexity, legal writing should also be clear, simple and direct, and legal professionals today are encouraged and advised to shorten and simplify their sentences. Thus, in addition to satisfying linguistic requirements, a qualified legal professional is expected to understand both the content and context of the information that she or he is presented with as well as translate legalese and legalspeak into plain English for clients, colleagues, and business partners.

The influence and dominance of the English language and the U.S. and U.K. legal systems and culture in legal transactions is certainly not a new phenomenon. At the beginning of the Twentieth Century, the Versailles Treaty was drafted in both French and English. In the second half of the Twentieth Century, English became the main language of communication in international organizations as The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Common law is also the most widespread legal system in the world as well as the preferred choice of law in cross-border transactions. In 2016, the Singapore Academy of Law surveyed 500 legal practitioners and in-house counsel who deal with cross-border transactions in Asia on their preferences for the choice of governing law and jurisdiction. The study revealed that 48% of lawyers select English law as their preferred choice of law in cross-border transactions. Singapore law was second at 25%, with New York at 7% and Hong Kong at 3%. Furthermore, according to the Law Society of England and Wales, 80% of cases before the Commercial Court in London involve at least one foreign party and around 50% of the cases have no connection to England and Wales except that the parties have chosen to resolve their disputes in England and Wales.

Perhaps even more telling is a finding by Philip Wood, Allen & Overy’s Special Global Counsel, and one of the world’s leading experts in comparative and cross-border financial law. In his book, “Maps of World Financial Law,” Wood writes that American and English Common Law jurisdictions combined generate 40% of the world GDP. With such a significant portion of the world GDP coming from common law jurisdictions, it is impossible not to consider the level of influence that common law legal systems can have over the operation of global markets.

Thus, in today’s global legal services economy, legal professionals should expect English and legal English mastery to be not just a helpful skill but rather a required competency to perform day-to-day work.

Whether it is negotiating deals around the world; drafting and amending contracts; writing opinions, formal letters or emails to business partners and clients; presenting on legal issues at international conferences or client meetings; or simply distilling the important bullet points from a complex legal document on a long-haul flight, legal English mastery should be a top priority for all legal professionals in 2017 and beyond.

I am an international business development director and curriculum architect at BARBRI, the largest legal education and bar exam preparation company, and these are just a few of the insights that went into the development of the BARBRI Professional Development courses that I helped design from the ground up specifically for Non-U.S. Lawyers.

On the year of the rooster, commit to mastering your legal English skills.

Inspired To Become U.S. Qualified, South African Lawyer Achieves Impact

Inspired to Become U.S. Qualified,
South African Lawyer Achieves Impact

Francisca Pretorius looked abroad to the United States to continue her studies, then applied to sit for the Colorado bar exam and passed it on the first try – with the help of BARBRI.

MY NAME IS FRANCISCA PRETORIUS and my yardstick for success is impact. I am a qualified South African lawyer, having practiced as a senior associate for a corporate law firm in Johannesburg, South Africa, and successfully worked towards passing the Colorado bar exam in July 2016. Being qualified in another country, especially the United States, exponentially increases the positive impact I can make in the world.

I have always wanted to continue my higher education studies in the United States and was accepted to a Master of Business Administration program (Global, Social and Sustainable Enterprise focus) at a university in Colorado. I decided to make my legal skills transferable, as well, and applied to sit for the Colorado bar exam.

Based on its outstanding reputation as the best U.S. bar review course, I chose BARBRI to prepare. Furthermore, BARBRI was the only bar review company to offer the flexibility and convenience of a separate, tailored home study option for international students like me.

THE QUANTITY OF BARBRI BAR REVIEW CONTENT was equally matched by the course’s high quality lectures, homework and practice exams. The substantive law did prove particularly challenging as the foundations of South African law and U.S. law are vastly different – South Africa’s mixed legal system incorporates Roman-Dutch law and the U.S. employs a common-law jurisdiction. Despite this rather significant hurdle, I progressed steadily through the BARBRI personalized study schedule and assignments. Continuous assessments and immeasurable support from BARBRI support attorneys and staff was another big advantage.

By following the BARBRI Bar Review study schedule – knowing it was specifically designed to prepare international students – I passed the Colorado bar exam the first time. Taking and passing a U.S. bar exam was a challenging yet fulfilling experience that would not have been possible without the help of BARBRI.

The BARBRI Journey

Guest Blog by Tiffany Khoo, LLB
London School of Economics and Political Science graduate

Can I just say that this BARBRI journey has been a challenge!

I’m enrolled under the 10-month programme which is meant to be at a pretty relaxed pace of about 10 – 15 hours a week. Although this hardly sounds like any work when you break it down, I definitely did not account for how tired I would be after work. As a result, by the time I actually rest my head on the pillow, I’m well and truly tired out and sleep comes very easily.

Fotolia_61821095_Subscription_Monthly_MAllow me to illustrate an average workday – I wake in the morning and feed my dog before heading to work. Work involves reading and analysing legislation, vetting contracts, and attending meetings. If I don’t have to leave late, I try to squeeze in an hour of exercise before heading home. After dinner and a shower, I seat myself at my desk to attempt working at my BARBRI Personal Study Plan (PSP). Although it doesn’t sound very vigorous, it is very mentally tiring and I am so grateful that I’ve signed up for such a comprehensive study plan to help me through it.

It’s been tough but it makes me even more grateful that I’m doing this with BARBRI.

Thanks to the PSP, I know exactly what I have to do and when I have to do it by. Although I did find myself having to play catch-up after going on holiday for a week, the PSP gives me structure to my revision which I otherwise would not have.

Besides watching lectures, an aspect of the PSP is answering multiple choice questions and self-grading essays. Additionally, they’ve also given us a chance to have a piece of work marked. At the moment, I’m trying not to be too hard on myself when my scores on the assigned multiple choice questions haven’t seen much improvement because I trust that with diligent practice, it should get better. I will most definitely keep you guys updated on this!

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One of the great things about being part of the BARBRI community is the support provided, not just from those working at BARBRI but from those being involved in the program as well. I’ve been added to a Whatsapp group with the other international students on the course and it truly is encouraging to be able to ask questions to a group of people from around the world, no matter the time. They recently shared good news about the latest New York Bar passing rates, and we are hoping our group will do well too.

With Christmas season approaching, it’s easy to get caught up in the festivities and neglect to spend enough time revising. I know that it’s going to take a lot of discipline and encouragement to keep myself on track for the next month. Wish me luck! And good luck to the rest of you too.

Till next time!

In a Rapidly Global World, Being Qualified in the United States Worth Considering

GUEST BLOG by Tiffany Khoo, LLB
London School of Economics and Political Science graduate

When overseas, we see time pass by in seasons, in the changing hours of the day, the layers we wear.

blog_1But here in Malaysia, with its ever constant sun and rain, October crept upon me like a surprise and here I am, a month into working life.

One of the most common questions I get from those who know I’ve done law is about taking the UK Bar. After all, I studied in England, and qualifying for the Bar in the UK would qualify me as a practicing lawyer in Malaysia as well. Although I would eventually like to qualify, certain work obligations necessitate that I won’t be able to. In the mean time, I’ve decided to take the New York Bar Exam instead.

Although this route is less popular amongst Malaysians as it does not allow us to qualify locally, in a rapidly global world, being qualified in the United States is another pathway worth considering. And of course, alongside London, New York is an incredibly cosmopolitan city and it isn’t unlikely that arbitration work could involve some international work. Also, instead of having to attend physical classes, qualifying just requires passing the relevant exams.

As I’ll be working alongside my studies (hopefully for the July 2017 paper), I decided to enlist the help of BARBRI International, a Bar Preparation guide that provides online material. I first heard of BARBRI International at LSE, where we were told of many who had dual qualifications. I decided to enrol for the 10 month Home Study Program (This means that I would be starting in September) which would allow me to study part time with the aid of online help, question banks, and even personalised essay feedback.

There are other options available too – like a 6 month option for those who want a quicker course, as well as some physical classes, depending on the country you’re in.

I just felt that doing it on my own would require so much discipline, and as the exam would be in a foreign jurisdiction, guidance just seems like the best option. I went with BARBRI International because they seem to offer really comprehensive help (I probably won’t need to buy anything else!) and they have lots of great online reviews. Their website is incredibly helpful as you can send in a query about eligibility and you will then be put in touch with one of BARBRI’s representatives. I found that I could ask anything, and all of my concerns were taken seriously.

You can find out more HERE and HERE. (Website and Facebook)

Fingers crossed for the entire process to go well! If you’re studying for the Bar as well, drop me an email and we could always start a conversation!

Yours sincerely,
Tiffany

South Korean Native and Irish Law Graduate Expands Career Options Internationally

Hong imageMy Name is Yewhoan Hong, and I was raised in South Korea before arriving in Ireland in 2005.

Upon being accepted into Law and French at Trinity College Dublin in 2011, I was exposed to the contrasting nature of common law and civil law. After completing my Erasmus in France at Université de Strasbourg, I decided to practise law internationally.

The New York bar seemed an appealing choice by which I could begin building my profile as an international practitioner. The New York Attorney-at-Law qualification comes with a certain prestige and international mobility. Not only do many employers hold the qualification in high regard, but many businesses also have ties with New York, a prominent global financial hub.

As a fresh college graduate, I had to make sure I was eligible to sit for the examination. Having devoted my time to studying common law and French civil law, there was a possibility that I would not meet the requirement set by the New York Board of Examiners. I contacted BARBRI International as soon as my final transcript was released, and quickly received a response that I would most likely be eligible. I duly registered for the examination.

Studying the substantive law was by no means easy.

Ireland, being a common law jurisdiction, had many things in common with U.S. law; however, there were numerous additional legal principles that were unique to Federal and New York state laws.

Through online lectures and carefully structured assessments, I was able to understand principles and gradually complete each branch of law every week. From the pre-course materials to the actual sitting of the New York examination, I answered approximately 2,000 MCQs, 100 essays and 10 MPTs which were all provided by BARBRI. Having put the work in, I successfully passed the examination on my first sitting with an MBE score that was 10 points above the national average.

BARBRI International has been very supportive throughout the entire process. The administrative staff is willing and able to help with any problems that may arise. The course structure is comprehensive and convenient. At each class, there is an on-site supervisor who shared his or her experiences and fueled motivation.

I am ultimately happy with my decision to sit the New York bar examination and feel my decision will open new opportunities as I seek to begin my international legal career.