Posts

CALIFORNIA BAR EXAM ELIGIBILITY: YOUR FIRST STEPS, WHAT TO EXPECT

By Chris Jorgenson,
BARBRI International Legal Manager

Hello, my name is Chris Jorgenson, Legal Manager with BARBRI based in London, England.

In this blog post, I’ll be addressing the eligibility requirements for the California Bar Exam and the practice trends we’ve seen in California over the years, which will be quite helpful and valuable to you.

First, let me establish what makes BARBRI the world’s #1 bar review provider. For the past 50 years, BARBRI has been the industry leader in U.S. bar exam preparation and passing success, having helped more than 1.3 million law school students become licensed attorneys in the United States. The BARBRI International Bar Preparation programme prepares law graduates and lawyers from non-U.S. based jurisdictions to gain membership in the State Bar of California and New York State Bar Association.

BE IN GOOD STANDING, PROVIDE PRACTICE CERTIFICATE

Generally, any qualified lawyer in good standing anywhere in the world is eligible to sit the California Bar Exam. So long as the attorney can produce a certificate of good standing and a home jurisdiction practice certificate, the California Bar Exam is available. In addition, an international law student may become eligible for the California bar by completing a one-year LL.M. at a law school approved by the American Bar Association (ABA) or accredited by the state of California. In practice, this means completing an LL.M. in the United States.

ONLY THE STATE BAR CAN CONFIRM ELIGIBILITY

It is important to note that the only arbiter of California Bar Exam eligibility is the State Bar of California. Serving as an arm of the California Supreme Court, only this governing branch of the state can confirm eligibility to sit the California Bar Exam. Confirming eligibility can take between 4-to-6 months, so it is important that as a prospective bar exam candidate, you begin the process early.

EXAM DETAILS: DATES, FORMAT, SUBJECTS, SCORING

The two-day California Bar Exam is offered twice a year during the last week of February and last week of July. It’s administered only in California, requiring an international candidate to travel to the United States to sit the exam.

There are seven core Multistate Bar Exam (MBE) subjects tested: Constitutional Law, Contracts/Sales, Criminal Law/Procedure, Evidence, Federal Civil Procedure, Real Property and Torts. In addition, the California Bar Exam essay subjects cover: California Civil Procedure, Business Associations, California Community Property, California Professional Responsibility, Remedies, Trusts and California Wills and Succession.

Day one of the bar exam consists of a morning session: three essay questions testing any subject and an afternoon session: two 60-minute essay questions and one 90-minute Performance Test. Day two of the exam: 200 multiple-choice questions testing the seven core MBE subjects.

The State Bar of California weighs the MBE portion (50%) and written essay portion (50%) of the bar exam equally. A passing score of 1,440 on a 2,000-point scale is required.

A California applicant is also required to pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE), a 60-question multiple-choice professional ethics test that is offered three times each year (usually in March, August and November). An applicant must take the MPRE inside the United States, but may do so in any U.S. state.

While sitting the California Bar Exam and qualifying as a U.S. attorney in California is an ambitious task, the BARBRI International Bar Preparation curriculum and educational platform put you in the best position to succeed, where ever in the world you reside. Learn more now.

Be sure to look for my next blog with details about the New York Bar Exam.

MEET YOUR BARBRI CLASSROOM FACILITATOR IN DUBLIN

Gordon Wade is the head of KPMG Ireland’s team of data protection lawyers. He’s also a Dublin facilitator for the BARBRI International Bar Exam Preparation Classroom Lecture course. Find out how he passed the New York Bar Exam on his first attempt, landed a prime role on a top global firm’s international arbitration team — and is now here to help you.

Gordon gained his Master of Laws from Trinity College Dublin in 2009 and started the BARBRI International Bar Preparation course in October of that same year while working full time. Upon passing the New York Bar Exam on his first attempt, he was admitted to the State Bar of New York in 2010.

“After entering law school, it was always my ambition to practise internationally. During my LL.M., I specialised in International Commercial Arbitration and began researching careers in that field. It quickly became clear that the vast majority of the top practitioners either had a U.S. law school education and/or were U.S. qualified. So I decided to enrol in the BARBRI International New York Bar Preparation course, which was instrumental in my securing a place on the International Arbitration team at Wilmer Hale in London. It was also a reason why I was selected to join KPMG’s Thailand legal team in Bangkok as part of a worldwide network building programme,” Gordon said.


Today, Gordon leads KPMG Ireland’s team of data protection lawyers and is aiming to grow the practice both in Ireland and within the KPMG global network, particularly in light of Brexit and the upcoming General Data Protection Regulation. Gordon is also one of the BARBRI facilitators you’ll personally work with while preparing for a U.S. Bar Exam in Dublin through the BARBRI International Bar Exam Preparation Classroom Lecture course.

BARBRI facilitators are your mentors throughout BARBRI International Bar Preparation. They are present in the classroom and lead interactive workshops and skills sessions. They have been in your shoes so they understand the demands, physically and emotionally, that are involved in this pursuit.

Gordon’s Advice: “If you want to pass a U.S. Bar Exam on your first attempt, BARBRI International Bar Preparation is a very effective form of brain training. Make the time, do the work, apply the BARBRI techniques, lean on people like me – your classroom facilitator – and pass the exam. It’s your gateway to a career as an international lawyer.”

LEARN TO BE AVERAGE

By Matthew Nash,
Legal Manager at BARBRI

REMEMBER, THE BAR EXAM IS ULTIMATELY PASS-FAIL.

Indeed, it’s perfectly acceptable to strive to land in the passing margin of the U.S. Bar Exam’s graded curve. There’s no need really to overwork yourself into oblivion to achieve a top percentile ranking. If you can (and want to), that’s commendable – yet not necessary. You see, when U.S. Bar Exam results come out, you’ll either have passed or failed.

That’s precisely what you need to realize and remember during the bar prep process: the U.S. Bar Exam is ultimately a pass-fail test. Approaching it as such will make your study time that much more efficient and productive. It will help mitigate stress, too.

Yes, perfection does sound like a worthy endeavor. You’re likely accustomed to scoring high marks on exams. But, in the case of the U.S. Bar Exam, perfection is not truly the end goal you want to target. You want to be extremely prepared, of course; however, the idea of perfection may lead you to place too great an emphasis on one individual area of the law. It may seem somewhat counterintuitive but you want to learn to be average across the vast number of areas of the law that will be covered on the exam. You’ll still be in good shape to pass the bar exam.

What does it mean to be “average” exactly? Not to put too fine a point on it, you’ll want to aim for about 65 percent correct on practice questions, over time. That should position you confidently in the passing margin. For example, if you work 25 practice questions, look to answer 16 or 17 correctly. You will have missed 8 or 9 questions – but that 65 percent correct is going to be enough to score the points you need to pass. Don’t expect to get there right way, it will take time to get there – particularly on subjects that may be completely unfamiliar to you when you start your U.S. Bar Exam studies.

The massive volume of U.S. Bar Exam material you’ll encounter during your preparation requires manageable and realistic expectations. All you need to do is make it on the pass list. Learning to be average – achieving that 65 percent or better, patting yourself on the back and making progress every day (without burning yourself out) – will get you there.

Challenge Seekers

Nora Garaz, Legal Co-ordinator

Blog by Nora Garaz,
Legal Coordinator

Hello my fellow challenge seekers,

Studying law has always filled me with a certain level of satisfaction. I love learning, and the different modules throughout law school kept me entertained enough to actually graduate. And while I am a hopeless traveler, I am also a challenge seeker. So, it didn’t come as a surprise, that just weeks after graduation I embarked on a journey with BARBRI. And when I say a journey, I mean it!

The study whenever, wherever program allowed me to do the course while I was traveling. I was able to download my lectures on my phone and watch them offline on my long-haul flights. The 10-month part-time study requires only 10-15 hours of study a week. Yes, I spent a couple of hours listening to tort lectures during my California vacation, but I was rocking the rest of my time on the beach and downtown.

Earlier this year I popped my lecture notes into my carry on and I was off to Iceland for the weekend. Spent a couple of hours in a coffee shop to warm up and to read through my notes. And the evening? I was off to hunt for the Aurora Borealis, the infamous Northern Lights.

Just because I am studying for the New York Bar, my life didn’t stop.

I am working full time and travelling abroad whenever I can. I needed to get creative in how I use my time and study material. I follow my Personal Study Plan, which allocates my study load for me. I use the BARBRI app to view material offline and use the books when I do intensive studying.

So, I would encourage you to sign up and challenge yourself to further your legal career and still have time for the things that matter.

EARLY EXPERIENCES IN U.S. CAPITOL PAVE WAY TO QUALIFYING AS A U.S. ATTORNEY

Before joining a Magic Circle law firm in London, Hannah McCarthy worked in Washington, D.C., interned with a U.S. Senator and passed the New York Bar Exam – using the BARBRI International home study program.

MY NAME IS HANNAH McCARTHY and I passed the New York Bar in February 2015. I am currently working in international arbitration with a Magic Circle law firm in London and just completed my last set of exams as part of the Qualified Lawyer Transfer Scheme (QLTS), which foreign qualified lawyers can take in order to qualify as an English solicitor.

I originally studied Law and Business at Trinity College, Dublin, and after graduating in 2014, I wanted to explore my options. I was fortunate enough to be offered a place on the Washington Ireland Program (WIP) and spent the summer after graduation working for a communications firm in Washington, D.C.

I ended up spending an additional three months in the U.S. Capitol, working for the Democratic Party on their congressional campaigns before interning a few weeks for U.S. Senator Charles “Chuck” Schumer (D-New York).

It was during this time that I decided to study for the New York Bar Exam and give myself some greater flexibility in term of employment prospects as a U.S. qualified attorney.

After completing BARBRI Bar Review using the course’s flexible home study program, I took the New York bar exam in February 2015. The following week, I began work as a paralegal for a law firm located in Times Square in Midtown Manhattan while I waited to hear if I had passed (which very thankfully I did).

After my stint in New York and prior to beginning my master’s degree, I returned to Dublin and landed a position within the legal team of Twitter’s European office for four months. I joined my current firm upon finishing up my master’s degree.

Every day I am working with smart people who are really interested and engaged in their work. With the practice being international, many of the lawyers are dual-qualified. Having passed the New York Bar Exam and being qualified as a U.S. attorney is certainly helpful.

Inspired To Become U.S. Qualified, South African Lawyer Achieves Impact

Inspired to Become U.S. Qualified,
South African Lawyer Achieves Impact

Francisca Pretorius looked abroad to the United States to continue her studies, then applied to sit for the Colorado bar exam and passed it on the first try – with the help of BARBRI.

MY NAME IS FRANCISCA PRETORIUS and my yardstick for success is impact. I am a qualified South African lawyer, having practiced as a senior associate for a corporate law firm in Johannesburg, South Africa, and successfully worked towards passing the Colorado bar exam in July 2016. Being qualified in another country, especially the United States, exponentially increases the positive impact I can make in the world.

I have always wanted to continue my higher education studies in the United States and was accepted to a Master of Business Administration program (Global, Social and Sustainable Enterprise focus) at a university in Colorado. I decided to make my legal skills transferable, as well, and applied to sit for the Colorado bar exam.

Based on its outstanding reputation as the best U.S. bar review course, I chose BARBRI to prepare. Furthermore, BARBRI was the only bar review company to offer the flexibility and convenience of a separate, tailored home study option for international students like me.

THE QUANTITY OF BARBRI BAR REVIEW CONTENT was equally matched by the course’s high quality lectures, homework and practice exams. The substantive law did prove particularly challenging as the foundations of South African law and U.S. law are vastly different – South Africa’s mixed legal system incorporates Roman-Dutch law and the U.S. employs a common-law jurisdiction. Despite this rather significant hurdle, I progressed steadily through the BARBRI personalized study schedule and assignments. Continuous assessments and immeasurable support from BARBRI support attorneys and staff was another big advantage.

By following the BARBRI Bar Review study schedule – knowing it was specifically designed to prepare international students – I passed the Colorado bar exam the first time. Taking and passing a U.S. bar exam was a challenging yet fulfilling experience that would not have been possible without the help of BARBRI.

South Korean Native and Irish Law Graduate Expands Career Options Internationally

Hong imageMy Name is Yewhoan Hong, and I was raised in South Korea before arriving in Ireland in 2005.

Upon being accepted into Law and French at Trinity College Dublin in 2011, I was exposed to the contrasting nature of common law and civil law. After completing my Erasmus in France at Université de Strasbourg, I decided to practise law internationally.

The New York bar seemed an appealing choice by which I could begin building my profile as an international practitioner. The New York Attorney-at-Law qualification comes with a certain prestige and international mobility. Not only do many employers hold the qualification in high regard, but many businesses also have ties with New York, a prominent global financial hub.

As a fresh college graduate, I had to make sure I was eligible to sit for the examination. Having devoted my time to studying common law and French civil law, there was a possibility that I would not meet the requirement set by the New York Board of Examiners. I contacted BARBRI International as soon as my final transcript was released, and quickly received a response that I would most likely be eligible. I duly registered for the examination.

Studying the substantive law was by no means easy.

Ireland, being a common law jurisdiction, had many things in common with U.S. law; however, there were numerous additional legal principles that were unique to Federal and New York state laws.

Through online lectures and carefully structured assessments, I was able to understand principles and gradually complete each branch of law every week. From the pre-course materials to the actual sitting of the New York examination, I answered approximately 2,000 MCQs, 100 essays and 10 MPTs which were all provided by BARBRI. Having put the work in, I successfully passed the examination on my first sitting with an MBE score that was 10 points above the national average.

BARBRI International has been very supportive throughout the entire process. The administrative staff is willing and able to help with any problems that may arise. The course structure is comprehensive and convenient. At each class, there is an on-site supervisor who shared his or her experiences and fueled motivation.

I am ultimately happy with my decision to sit the New York bar examination and feel my decision will open new opportunities as I seek to begin my international legal career.