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The One Thing You Need to Know / Do to Pass the Bar Exam

By Sam Farkas, Esq,
BARBRI Curriculum Architect and Instructor

As you approach the bar exam, you’re likely to hear all kinds of “quick fix” advice, which often sounds something like, “to pass, all you really need to do is ________.” You are a trained critical thinker, so hopefully, any bar success claim beginning with, “all you have to do is…” triggers suspicion.

As the old saying goes, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

At BARBRI, we’ve heard everything from “create your own study plan” to “you only need this book,” “you only need to work 1,000 multiple-choice questions,” or “you only need to study for 100 hours.” The list goes on and on. Assuming these claims are even true (dig in a bit and you often find that those making these claims actually worked harder than they suggest), why experiment and risk your one opportunity to be a first-time bar passer?  Sure, an applicant with a strong knowledge of the law, excellent study, reading, analytical and writing skills, who faces no real consequences if he/she fails, and who is committed to proving all the doubters wrong, might be able to eke out a passing score. But, like all dubious advertisement claims, such advice should come with that fine print disclaimer: “individual results may vary.”

For any significant achievement like passing the bar exam, there are no simple one-size-fits-all shortcuts to bypass the work required for success.

There is simply no amount of “good luck” that can overcome a deficit of knowledge on this exam. When you walk into the exam room, you want to know that you gave it your all. You want to know that you followed an effective bar prep plan, did the work and took ownership of your success. BARBRI Bar Review provides you with a Personal Study Plan (PSP) that maximizes your study investment by focusing you on what is most important for you to pass the exam. It leverages science and technology to boost learning and progress, and it works in partnership with you, adjusting to your schedule, strengths and weaknesses, and performance. With the PSP, you will not stress about what law to focus on or what practice questions to work. You will not have to worry about whether you are on track for success. You will not have to wonder how you are doing in comparison to the vast majority of applicants taking the exam with you. When you allow the experts to guide you through your preparation, you get to focus on what matters most— learning what you need to pass the bar.

So, here’s one thing you really do need to know to pass the bar exam.

There is no such thing as luck. Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. Your opportunity is set. What are you doing to prepare for it?

New York Bar… The Advantages and Disadvantages for UK students

Hemant Chauhan,
Legal Coordinator — BARBRI International

The search for that elusive training contract or pupillage remains as competitive as ever.

The law market is saturated with law students who have completed their respective qualifications, but unable to secure a position within a law firm or chambers. Many have impressive CVs, stellar academics, and have varied experiences that set them apart from the competition, but even then it is not enough.

The New York Bar appears to be an impressive qualification to add to your belt. London hosts over 100 U.S. law firms, servicing both UK and international clients. I, too, have decided to study for this U.S. qualification because I have always had an interest in qualifying in the Big Apple, as opposed to the domestic UK route. There appear to be merits and weaknesses to the qualification, but it is contended that for students, the merits do outweigh the weaknesses.  The New York Bar is a highly prized asset, not least because you can immediately be billed out as a qualified Attorney-at-Law, rather than just a UK Trainee Solicitor.

There are several attractions to the New York Bar.

Having the qualification will enable you to be admitted to practice in New York State, as long as you have fulfilled the other requirements the New York State Board of Law Examiners have set. The US qualification process is very different to the UK. There is no training contract requirement.  For those who want to practice international commercial law, this U.S. qualification ‘fits the bill’ so to speak. It is based on common law, and New York law underpins a lot of contractual cross-border transactional deals, alongside England & Wales.

It is a shame that the majority of the careers departments at the UK Universities only advertise the traditional UK route: pursuing the standard Legal Practice Course (LPC) after the LLB undergraduate degree; the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) for those who want to become barristers.  The LPC is incredibly expensive, now ranged between approximately £10,000 – £15,000.

There is a dilemma here. Many law firms, except the City firms, that offer training contracts do not sponsor students to undertake the LPC, but expect you to undertake it to be considered for a traineeship, working on a substantially lower salary, considering the expense.  The search for an alternative is imperative for those who can not afford to maintain the traditions of the UK legal profession.

The cost of the New York Bar suddenly becomes more appealing.  It is significantly cheaper than the LPC, so it makes sense economically. You are eligible to take it upon graduation from a three-year, face-to-face, LLB degree, with no requirement to be qualified.  The route, it is argued, is a better alternative to qualification for those who are unable to follow standard routes. Here’s the kicker… you are further eligible to dual-qualify in England & Wales as a qualified solicitor! And not only that… by taking the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme… there is no training contract requirement!

So what are the downsides here…I have spoken to several lawyers in the profession who are dubious about the New York Bar. One disadvantage, they argue, is utility. We practice English law, so why qualify into a foreign jurisdiction where there is no relevance. A further disadvantage is that many prefer people to have undertaken a traditional route because it is far more familiar. Some may argue that it leads to the makings of a better, equipped lawyer. I, however, disagree.  If there is a cheaper alternative to qualification, why is this not advertised more? Further, with the new Solicitor Super Exam looming, which will replace the LPC in 2020, now more students will be seriously considering their routes into qualification.

It is not just the ability to qualify in the UK… let’s not forget the potential prospects of plan B! Working in Manhattan, an iconic city, living the American Dream, is just too good an opportunity to turn down. I have been fortunate to have selected the Bar Review programme with BARBRI International, priced at $5995.00, a leading provider for US Bar programmes. They have a stellar reputation and ensure you stick to their tested methods and expertise, in order to pass this gruelling examination. There are other recognised suppliers of the Bar Exams so consider wisely with their reputations.

Of course, I acknowledge that many will have mixed reviews.  However, UK law students need to be aware of this so they have all the options before them, before deciding which course would best serve their career paths. As the corporate world becomes ever more globalised and focused on international transactions, this qualification would certainly be of benefit.

DRIVEN TO QUALIFY AS A U.S. ATTORNEY, FROM A TINY IRISH VILLAGE TO THE BIG APPLE

Captivated by American lifestyle and opportunities, Dublin law graduate Aoife Moore Kavanagh made sure to do whatever it took – with the help of BARBRI – to pass the New York Bar Exam.

MY NAME IS AOIFE MOORE KAVANAGH and my desire to qualify as a U.S. attorney actually began in San Francisco during summer work travel through the J-1 Visa Exchange Visitor program. I loved the adventure and realized there were far more opportunities in America than back home in my tiny Irish village, which also happens to be in the smallest county in Ireland. As a Dublin City University law graduate, I knew if I wanted to qualify abroad, I would have to learn the U.S. legal system with the right U.S. law course provider.

After some research, I came across the BARBRI International 6-month Home Study Program. I attended twice a week while working a retail position, packing what American students learn in three years into that 6-month timeframe. When the BARBRI course finished, I left my job to concentrate full-time on studying for the New York Bar Exam prior to returning to the United States to sit the exam.

The people, the crowds, the lights. Everything about New York City captivated me. After taking the bar exam, I decided to extend my stay. I spent three months relishing every opportunity New York had to offer, making meaningful connections along the way. I even met the love of my life. I fit in perfectly.

Then I got the news that I hadn’t passed the New York Bar Exam.

I was absolutely devastated but I knew I had no choice, I had to try again. I owed it to myself to give it my very best shot and now that I knew New York was where I wanted to be, I had a new-found drive and longing.

I took advantage of the BARBRI Guarantee and, for the next two months, I focused solely on the exam using BARBRI. There were times when I couldn’t even remember the last time I got dressed. I lived and breathed American law materials. I recorded myself reciting rules and fell asleep listening to them. I studied 9-plus hours a day, six days a week. And slowly but surely, the time came around for me to fly back and retake the exam. I knew I had done everything conceivably possible to make sure I would pass. That’s what it takes to ensure success.

An email is how I received my results. No set date or time. Just an email that suddenly arrives in your inbox to inform you of your future. It took me a full day to pluck up the courage to open that email. The passing score in New York is 266. I got 289. I kept checking it over and over, I thought I wasn’t seeing straight! And now I’m preparing my application for admission to practice as an attorney in the greatest place in the world, from my tiny little village in the smallest county in Ireland.

I encountered negative reactions on my journey from people who didn’t think it was worth my while to do a course to learn the laws of another jurisdiction. They told me it was extremely difficult for foreign examinees and I would have to accept that it was unlikely my dreams would become reality, but I am proof that it can be done. I would love for my story to inspire others who may be thinking about doing a U.S. Bar Exam and let them know it is 100% possible.

FRENCH ATTORNEY ACHIEVES GLOBAL LEGAL CAREER

Parisien, Nelson Dijoux Coquillas, uses his New York qualification to practice in international arbitration – the international setting of his dreams.

My name is Nelson Dijoux Coquillas and I am an Associate in International Arbitration at White & Case LLP.

I have always imagined myself working in an international legal setting interacting with colleagues and clients from all around the world. After earning my bachelor and master’s degree from Paris Dauphine, I went on to obtain a second master’s degree and an LL.M. from U.C. Berkeley.

I knew I would take the New York Bar Exam because, in my desired field of practice, it was a go-to, especially for big law firms at which I was applying at the time. Additionally, the bar exam itself provided me with some useful exposure to federal and state subjects that I did not take in law school, but which proved useful at the beginning of my career (conflicts of laws for example).

Today, I get the pleasure of working in a truly international setting. The clients I help on a daily basis come from all around the world. The wonderful team with which I work is truly a global team as only 5 or 6 of my 45+ colleagues are 100% French. My international arbitration practice is truly a global career and I could not be happier.

When it comes to preparing for a U.S. state bar exam, BARBRI was and still is the #1 course. The vast majority of my friends, American or foreigners, relied on BARBRI to help them through the bar exam. The BARBRI Personal Study Plan was tailored to my particular needs: I wanted to go at my own pace yet still be assisted if necessary, and I also needed a lot of practice. BARBRI ticked all the boxes: Reliability, tailor-made program, individual assistance, and substantial practice.

The Personal Study Plan constantly directed me toward the specific areas and subjects on which I needed more practice, which did a lot to make me feel comfortable about the actual exam. The Simulated MBE made a huge difference as well as I arrived at the real exam completely familiar with the exam format and structure. I just had to focus on my answers.

If you’re wondering which bar preparation course is for you, wonder no more. Chances are that BARBRI will be a perfect fit for your study habits and needs.

PASSING THE NEW YORK BAR HELPS TEL AVIV ATTORNEY ADVISE INTERNATIONAL TECH CLIENTS

Koren Grinshpoon, Tel Aviv native, and an Israeli lawyer is using his New York qualification to provide broader services to tech clients in New York as a corporate associate at one of New York’s biggest law firms.

MY NAME IS Koren Grinshpoon and I was admitted to practice in Israel in 2016 after receiving my LL.B. and a graduate diploma in Economics from Tel Aviv University. Following my graduation, I worked at the hi-tech department of Herzog, Fox & Neeman, Israel’s top law firm. I noticed firsthand the innovative nature of tech law and of the global tech industry, as well as the predominance and preeminence of U.S. based tech companies and venture capital firms. I needed to become intimately familiar with U.S. law as it governs many transactions made in the course of a tech company’s life cycle. I found that the best way to accomplish this goal is by sitting or the New York Bar Examination and becoming licensed as an attorney in New York. Since Israel is a common law jurisdiction, graduates of accredited schools from Israel can qualify to sit for a U.S. state bar, particularly New York, with relative ease.

THE LEGAL MARKET IS BECOMING MORE GLOBAL, WITH TRANSACTIONS TAKING PLACE IN MULTIPLE JURISDICTIONS AND BY MULTIPLE PARTIES FROM ACROSS THE WORLD.

Understanding the governing laws of different jurisdictions, as well as being able to advice on such laws, allows me to provide better and broader services to my clients. After researching many programs to help one  pursue his or her goal of passing the New York Bar Exam, I chose the BARBRI International program without hesitation. BARBRI is well known for its exam preparation courses for the New York Bar and is the only program that provides an international learning experience which allows lawyers to study for the exam in their country of origin as well as anywhere else in the world. The BARBRI team was extremely supportive and helped me and many of my peers navigate the tedious registration process for foreign-educated applicants. Also, the BARBRI lectures and practice questions were fantastic tools for preparation for the exam. By following the BARBRI International study schedule, specifically designed to prepare international students for the exam, I felt confident in my ability to pass the exam on my first try. I was indeed admitted to practice in New York in May 2017 and went on to practice law as a corporate associate at one of New York’s biggest law firms.

MAKING THE MOST OF BARBRI

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

When I first signed on for the BARBRI 10-month Home Study Program, 10 months felt far away yet it went so much faster than I expected.

Almost silently, the last few months passed one after another and the New York Bar Exam had suddenly arrived. It’s truly been a wonderful journey, learning law from a different jurisdiction, especially one as influential as the United States.

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Throughout the 10 months of bar study, I found myself getting involved in situations where my (limited) knowledge of U.S. law helped me out. For example, in work, I’ve had to look at Secured Transactions, one of the subjects tested on the New York Bar Exam. I was assigned to conduct research on Article 9, which thanks to my bar preparations through BARBRI, I already had some knowledge about. In my personal life, I had a relative going through some legal issues while residing in the United States. When she hired a U.S. attorney, it was so reassuring to know that I recognized the legalese he was using and I could really offer some helpful advice to a family member.

As this is my final BARBRI blog post, I leave you with some tips on making the most of BARBRI:

Use the BARBRI Network

I’ve mentioned this before and I’ll say it again: BARBRI sets up a WhatsApp group chat for those interested to communicate with other BARBRI students. This network has been a wonderful support system as you’re joined by others from around the world that are going through the same struggles. People share tips, encourage each other, remind each other about important deadlines and, of course, share a relatable meme every so often. It is a great resource and a wonderful way to feel less alone in the bar prep journey.

Email the lecturers

Although you have the vast BARBRI Network of students to lean on, sometimes that just means there’s many confused students all at a time. A lot of the BARBRI lecturers give out their number and email addresses for those who have questions. I’ve emailed the lecturers before and they have been exceptionally helpful and kind.

Practice and start early

BARBRI comes with an abundance of practice questions and it would be a huge shame to not take advantage of them. My advice: as much as possible, start practicing and start practicing early.

Build up endurance

A big part of the New York Bar Exam requires endurance – 12 hours of testing over two days. I remember when I first started attempting the 18 Multistate Practice Questions (MPQs) that BARBRI provided. It would take me well over an hour to complete, which was definitely much too long. But over time, I could do it more quickly. Build up your endurance and speed slowly – it will get better over time.

With that, all the best! I’ve had a blast writing here and I wish everyone the best of luck!

IN PURSUIT OF A DREAM – FROM HERZLIYA TO PASSING THE NEW YORK BAR

Israeli attorney Elena Goor Barron prepares to embark on a legal position in the U.S. and help people all over the world after securing a job as a Litigator at a New York law firm. Find out how she passed the New York Bar Exam on her first attempt.

MY NAME IS ELENA GOOR BARRON and my dream has always been to help people from different countries and backgrounds. I graduated with a Bachelor of Law LL.B. and B.A. in Government, Diplomacy and Strategy with Expertise in Terrorism & Homeland Security from IDC Herzliya, Israel. During my work in Personal Injury Law in Israel I decided to further my legal education in pursuit of my dream and to practice law internationally.

I felt that becoming an attorney in the U.S. would give me an opportunity to expand my legal career to an international level and to handle complex cross-border legal matters.

When considering my options for qualification, I determined that applying to sit for the New York State Bar Exam was the right path for me.

I did some of my own independent bar exam preparation course research, as well as spoke to my American friends who had taken a U.S. Bar Exam, and learned that BARBRI is widely considered the best bar exam preparation available if you want to pass on the first attempt. I was also impressed with the flexibility of BARBRI study tools provided and the success rate of their students.

WHAT ESPECIALLY CAUGHT MY EYE was the BARBRI International Home Study Program designed specifically for foreign-educated lawyers who want to prepare for a U.S. Bar Exam while maintaining their practice in another country.

Each week, I utilized various tools and resources such as the video lectures, reading assignments, multiple-choice practice questions and essay practice questions. It was apparent that each member of the BARBRI faculty put an enormous amount of thought and time into preparing every lecture.

I also had a direct line of communication with BARBRI, both in Israel and the United States. They were always ready to offer guidance and support. When I arrived in New York for the exam I felt confident, well prepared and passed on my first attempt using the BARBRI International Home Study Program.

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.

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!