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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.

The New York Bar Exam: A Guide for Foreign Applicants

Hemant Chauhan,
Legal Coordinator — BARBRI International

So you want to be a US Qualified, State of New York Attorney?

Want to add a glamorous qualification to your CV? Thinking of emigrating to the States? Perhaps want to practice in New York?  You have arrived at the right place. This article will provide you an overview of the New York Bar Exam, and tips for those seeking to take this prestigious qualification.

Eligibility

Before selecting a Bar Review provider, you need to establish whether you are, indeed, eligible to undertake the examination.  If you do this straight away, you will be minimising the fundamental risk as to whether you will be confirmed eligible, as the examination arrives nearer. I have selected a reputable, fantastic course provider, BARBRI International, that stresses upon this element, first and foremost. You should allow up to 6 months for confirmation of eligibility. It is the student’s responsibility to make a timely application.

Foreign applicants are required to send supporting documents to the New York State Board of Law Examiners. The New York Board of Law Examiners will request that you supply the following documents:

1.  University Transcripts

  • Request a copy from your University in a sealed stamped envelope.
  • Some Universities will send the documents directly to New York, others will send them out to you and you will need to forward them to New York. NB. Do not open the transcripts before you send them to NY.
  • Transcripts must be in English/ translated into English. Ensure credits are listed on the transcripts.
  • It may be useful to request two sets of transcripts from the University. This way you can check that you are sending the correct document.
  • If your university uses an electronic transcript system, print a copy of the transcripts, and ask your university to stamp them as a true copy. Send them in a stamped sealed envelope.

2.  Copy of your Degree Certificate

3.  Practicing Certificate OR

4.  Letter from the Solicitor’s Regulatory Authority/Law Society of the applicable country

Once eligibility has been confirmed, foreign applicants will need to register for the exam. To sit the July exam, register between April 1st- 30th. To sit the February exam, register between November 1st–30th. There are no exceptions/late filing deadlines. There is a fee of $750. There is an option to defer your registration fee to the next sitting of the exam. You need to contact New York directly to discuss this, in the event you have applied for eligibility less than 6 months before registering to sit the exam. You may not have your eligibility confirmed before registration.

Structure & Layout of the Bar Exam

The Bar exam is a gruelling, two-day examination: 6 hours each day.  Stamina and endurance under timed pressure will be crucial elements to passing the exams. There are three different components to the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE):

  • Multistate Essay Exam topics include:
    Business Association; Agency & Partnership, Corporation, Limited Liability Companies, Conflict of Laws, Family Law, Trust & Estates; Wills & Trusts, Future Interests, Uniform Commercial Code. These are tested on Day 1 only (+ MBE subjects listed below)
  • Multistate Performance Test
    Practical element of being a lawyer. All information needed to complete question is supplied in the question.
  • Multistate Bar Exam Topics Include:
    Federal Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Contracts/ Sales, Criminal Law & Procedure, Evidence, Real Property & Torts. These are tested on Day 1 & 2.  200 multiple choice questions across 8 subjects. They are mixed. No labels for the question. Your mind will need to be racing through all the laws to issue-spot which area the examiners are testing.

Uniform Bar Exam Marking

The Multistate Bar Exam is worth 50%, the Multistate Essay Exam is worth 30% & the Multistate Performance Test is worth 20%. The total score is 400. New York has set the passing score at 266. Aim to get over 60% in all parts. The % pass rate varies from year to year.

On a further note, it is crucial to note that the pass rate has been reducing every year.  Statistics drop even more for foreign candidates.  In fact, pass rates are now at the very lowest in approximately 20 years.  Do not be scared.  This is just a warning that you need to be disciplined to master the material and practice, practice, practice.  Practice makes perfect.  BARBRI’s statistical evidence that 76% of students who complete 80%+ of the Personal Study Plan pass.

Admission Requirements

You will need to complete the following to fulfil the requirements for admission as a NY Attorney:

(i) New York Law Examination (NYLE):
It comprises of 50 multiple choice questions. It is a 2-hour open book test and can be completed online. You can sit this exam four times annually. The New York Law Course prepares you for the exam and can be found free of charge on the New York Bar website (www.nybarexam.org). It can be completed one year before the bar exam or three years’ after. The pass mark is 30/50. Subjects tested include; Administrative Law, Business Relationships, Civil Practice & Procedure, Evidence, Matrimonial & Family Law, Professional Responsibility, Real Property, Torts & Tort Damages and Trusts, Wills & Estates.

(ii) The Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE):
This exam is 2 hours’ long and includes 60 questions. It is administered 3 times a year. It is required for admission to all state bars, apart from Maryland & Wisconsin. Passing scores are on a scale of 50-150. NY requires a scaled score of 85.

(iii) Pro Bono Requirement:
The final requirement for admission is 50 hours of Pro Bono Work. The work should be legal in nature and must be unpaid. You should look for work involving legal research/ advice. The work must be signed off by a practicing lawyer, in the jurisdiction the work is completed in.

There is no doubt that there is a lot of effort, hard work, and discipline required to pass the Bar exam, and to fulfil the admission requirements in order to become a licensed attorney. But if you want to pursue this qualification, as I am in the midst of doing so, the rewards are great.

For further support visit BARBRI International, who can offer tailored advice on the New York Bar process.

Why the New York Bar?

Harry Illingworth,
BARBRI Legal Co-ordinator

I spent a large amount of my youth travelling around the U.S. because of my dad’s profession.

I always knew I wanted to study law at university and I suppose the childhood connection with the U.S. led to my initial interest in qualifying in New York rather than the U.K. However, the process of qualifying in America wasn’t a familiar one. The only route pushed by the careers department at my university was the standard LPC one, this being a route I was not interested in taking.

To me, there are several attractions to sitting the New York bar. The most significant attraction being, if you pass the examination, you will be admitted to practice law in New York. This essentially means there is no training contract requirement, which was extremely alluring to me. New York is home to the world’s most important legal market, with most top-tier firms having an office there. New York also seemed like a practical option as not only is it an English-speaking country, but also has a legal system based on common law.

The cost of the programme also came into light, being significantly cheaper than the LPC or the BPTC and so the New York bar route made financial sense to me as well as durational. The bar could be sat straight out of graduating from my LLB, with no requirement to be qualified anywhere else or have any PQE. Essentially, you could pass the bar and b­ecome qualified within a year after graduating, as opposed to the 3-year training pathway required here in the U.K.

Putting the practicalities aside for a moment, the idea of living and working in the iconic New York City was an option too attractive to ignore. Who wouldn’t want to be the next Harvey Spectre?

As for me personally, in full disclosure, I was fortunate enough to successfully secure a position with BARBRI straight after graduation. BARBRI provides the #1 Bar Review Programme both in the U.S. and internationally. Using the expert knowledge and tested methods studying with BARBRI, I just sat the New York bar myself in July 2017 and will hopefully be admitted as an attorney in New York.

LEARN ABOUT U.S. BAR EXAM ELIGIBILITY RIGHT AWAY

By Robert Dudley,
International Director at BARBRI

TIMING IS EVERYTHING.

There’s great appeal to qualifying as a U.S. attorney, particularly the impact it has on increasing earning potential and broadening the scope of job opportunities on a global scale. These reasons alone are enough to prompt many foreign-trained attorneys and law graduates to continue their career aspirations abroad with plans to sit the New York or California Bar Exam. Whilst the end goal justifies the journey, the first step requires determining your U.S. Bar Exam eligibility and it can appear complicated. This shouldn’t keep you from pursuing U.S. qualification, of course. It’s just vital that you start to gather the right information and proper guidance as soon as you’re decided.

This eligibility process doesn’t happen overnight, either. It takes time, especially if you’re currently working full time. Remember, too, that the U.S. Bar Exam is administered only twice a year: in late February and late July. Even if you’re simply entertaining the idea of U.S. qualification at this point, it’s prudent to learn about your eligibility right away. Should you wait too long, you might miss an upcoming window for the next scheduled U.S. Bar Exam. There really isn’t a downside to get going on it now.

It’s paramount to understand that, although New York and California are most popular with foreign-trained attorneys and law graduates, each state has different eligibility requirements. For example, is your law degree equivalent to a U.S. law degree? Are you prepared to provide the required supporting documents, which can include your original law school transcripts, law degree certificate and/or practicing certificate?

Timing is key. It‘s worth repeating, since this is your future. BARBRI recommends that you submit your supporting documentation for eligibility at least six months before you plan to sit the bar exam. It will generally take about 4-5 months to confirm your New York eligibility and between 2-3 months for California eligibility. And then there is the time to study and prepare for the exam with the BARBRI International Bar Preparation programme – offered over a 6-month or 10-month timeframe – which you must consider in your timeline.

With all that in mind, don’t get too caught up in feeling as if you really must immediately grasp all the details and instructions for U.S. eligibility. You have resources and one-to-one support available through BARBRI. All you need really are your questions and some time to speak with us – we’ll answer everything and walk you through it. And if, later in the process, the U.S. bar examiners require anything extra or happen to toss an obstacle your way, we are here to help.

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.

In a Rapidly Global World, Being Qualified in the United States Worth Considering

GUEST BLOG by Tiffany Khoo, LLB
London School of Economics and Political Science graduate

When overseas, we see time pass by in seasons, in the changing hours of the day, the layers we wear.

blog_1But here in Malaysia, with its ever constant sun and rain, October crept upon me like a surprise and here I am, a month into working life.

One of the most common questions I get from those who know I’ve done law is about taking the UK Bar. After all, I studied in England, and qualifying for the Bar in the UK would qualify me as a practicing lawyer in Malaysia as well. Although I would eventually like to qualify, certain work obligations necessitate that I won’t be able to. In the mean time, I’ve decided to take the New York Bar Exam instead.

Although this route is less popular amongst Malaysians as it does not allow us to qualify locally, in a rapidly global world, being qualified in the United States is another pathway worth considering. And of course, alongside London, New York is an incredibly cosmopolitan city and it isn’t unlikely that arbitration work could involve some international work. Also, instead of having to attend physical classes, qualifying just requires passing the relevant exams.

As I’ll be working alongside my studies (hopefully for the July 2017 paper), I decided to enlist the help of BARBRI International, a Bar Preparation guide that provides online material. I first heard of BARBRI International at LSE, where we were told of many who had dual qualifications. I decided to enrol for the 10 month Home Study Program (This means that I would be starting in September) which would allow me to study part time with the aid of online help, question banks, and even personalised essay feedback.

There are other options available too – like a 6 month option for those who want a quicker course, as well as some physical classes, depending on the country you’re in.

I just felt that doing it on my own would require so much discipline, and as the exam would be in a foreign jurisdiction, guidance just seems like the best option. I went with BARBRI International because they seem to offer really comprehensive help (I probably won’t need to buy anything else!) and they have lots of great online reviews. Their website is incredibly helpful as you can send in a query about eligibility and you will then be put in touch with one of BARBRI’s representatives. I found that I could ask anything, and all of my concerns were taken seriously.

You can find out more HERE and HERE. (Website and Facebook)

Fingers crossed for the entire process to go well! If you’re studying for the Bar as well, drop me an email and we could always start a conversation!

Yours sincerely,
Tiffany

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.