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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.

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.”

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.