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Study + Work: How to Successfully Do Both

By Hemant Chauhan, Legal Coordinator, BARBRI International

If you are looking to internationalise 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. state 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 International Bar Preparation programmes are designed to fit your needs for balance, whatever they may be. The programmes 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 International offers 6-month and 10-month international bar review programmes. The 6-month programme 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 extended programme estimates 10-15 hours will be dedicated to learning each week. Although both programmes offer the same comprehensive curriculum, the 10-month programme is offered at a slower pace. It’s for this reason that I have chosen the 10-month programme 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 utilises 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 International Bar Preparation programme 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 programme 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, analysing 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 utilise 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 fulfil the 10-15 weekly hours of learning, and feel confident in my quest to pass the U.S. state bar exam.

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