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.