GUEST BLOG by Ambar Rossi, Esquire
Associate Attorney at Sobosik Law, Massachusetts
With graduation day around the corner, it’s now time to pursue our plans post-LL.M.
Some of us will return to our countries, others will try out luck in the U.S. labor market, and the most adventurous will sit for the Bar Exam in July. To all: good luck! To the latter: let’s chat…
I’m not going to sugar coat it for you all: the Bar Exam is no joke! Even for our fellow JDs the next two months will be full of stress, countless hours of study, no sleep and contact with the world whatsoever. They will breathe, drink and eat Bar Prep materials like there’s no tomorrow. Multiply all that by a million and you’ll get the full LL.M. experience. The good news (yes, there is such a thing!) is that the Bar exam is just a test and, just like you, this too shall pass!
Now to the million-dollar question: how to prepare for the Bar Exam?
There’s certainly not one correct answer to this question, but as a foreign-trained attorney trying to pass the Bar I know that the struggle is real! So, I will leave you with 4 things that worked for me:
- Do not try to read ALL your Bar prep materials: I am going to assume that all of you will take a Bar Prep Course. That’s a no brainer because you will need the training and technique to learn how to take (and pass) the exam. But getting those 25lbs of books can and will be very overwhelming. No matter what you do, learn when and how to use each book. Some of them will be our companions throughout the entire process but others are there only for reference or in case you need a better understanding of certain issues. Trust me, you don’t want to become a master in one subject; you want a basic understanding of all of them (key word = basic). Use your time wisely and read only what you need to pass the exam. No more no less!
- Grab your Dictionary: Seriously. This exam is also a cultural challenge. No matter how good your English is some words and sentence construction will make no sense! If, like in my case, English is not your first language it’s a good idea to have your dictionary handy. After all, you don’t want to risk getting a question wrong because you didn’t understand what was being asked.
- Practice, practice, practice: Imagine like your new full time job is to prep for this exam. Imagine that this exam is your favorite sport or whatever you want to accomplish the most. You will only achieve your goal by practicing every day. Time yourself, read the explanatory answers of your practice books, do as many assignments as possible. You will feel like you’re not getting anything out of it but, trust me, you are.
- Do your own thing: Everybody has his or her own learning methods. Preparing for the Bar exam is not the time to learn a new one. You are a successful attorney and LL.M. graduate. You made it using your own methods; it doesn’t have to be different now. Take the materials and do whatever works for you. It will work this time, too!
OK, OK, I’ll give you a bonus tip, perhaps the most important one: don’t be afraid to ask questions and talk to your instructors about your struggles. I remember when I took the BARBRI simulated MBE I was extremely nervous about my – less than ideal – results being a forecast of the inevitable. I shared my concerns with a professor at the review session. He not only gave me useful advice but he even offered additional materials to help me get through the most challenging subjects to me. That’s when I knew I had a true support system that was going to hold my hand throughout this experience. That, to me, made all the difference in the world.
I think you can! #ownthebar