Times Square, NYC

BARBRI Provides ‘Life-changing’ Experience for Immigration Lawyer

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

Cindy Anna Nicolson, LLB

Cindy Anna Nicolson, LLB

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

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

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

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

TOOLS THAT WORK FOR ANYONE, ANYWHERE

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

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

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

THE REWARDS OUTWEIGH THE TIME INVESTMENT   

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

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

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

Beyond Dubai

New York Bar Taker Looks to Extend Reach Beyond Dubai

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

Laureen Fredah, MBA, LLB

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

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

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

EVERYTHING REQUIRED TO PASS THE EXAM

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

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

MOTIVATION TO KEEP AFLOAT   

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

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

ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE   

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

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

Working in Malaysia and the U.S.

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

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

Image of Tiffany Khoo

Tiffany Khoo, LLB

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

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

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

Bar Prep Guidance Made Easy.

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

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

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

The BARBRI website is incredibly helpful.

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

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

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

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

Looking Ahead to the QLTS.

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

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

By Saurabh Aggarwal, BARBRI Legal Coordinator

Saurabh Aggarwal, BARBRI Legal Coordinator

Saurabh Aggarwal, BARBRI Legal Coordinator

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

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

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

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

FAST-FORWARD TO THE EXAM

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

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

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

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

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

From Morocco to Manhattan: Charting a Global Career

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

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

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

Jihane Chraibi

Jihane Chraibi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Think Internationally for a Shrinking Globe

By Rob Dudley, Deputy Managing Director, BARBRI

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

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

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

Olu Ogunnowo

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

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

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

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

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

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

Study + Work: How to Successfully Do Both

By Hemant Chauhan, Legal Coordinator, BARBRI 

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

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

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

Choose Bar Prep for the Real World

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

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

Commit Accordingly

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

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

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

Use Your Resources Wisely

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

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

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

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

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!

Passing the New York Bar Helps Attorney Sharpen Her Global Skills

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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