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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.

How to Think Internationally for a Shrinking Globe

By Rob Dudley, Legal Director, BARBRI International

As an increasing number of lawyers look to take their skills to the international market, so too does this global market look to lawyers to provide legal resources at an ever-greater rate. It’s a win-win for practitioners who want to qualify in multiple jurisdictions. But what’s key to making this a fluid exchange is for lawyers to ensure they have the qualifications that enable them to work outside their home jurisdictions.

A shrinking global market is making it imperative for lawyers to have jurisdictional flexibility. It’s something BARBRI recognised more than 50 years ago in the United States when it was founded to prepare law graduates in the skills and techniques needed for the 50 U.S. state bar exams. Today, BARBRI International specialises in preparing non-U.S. law graduates and lawyers for these exams and delivering training for the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme (QLTS) assessment in England and Wales. These programmes provide an efficient and effective way to qualify as either a U.S. attorney or solicitor in England and Wales for those who are foreign-trained, and to be more employable around the world.

The majority of people I now see coming through our doors are globally minded lawyers working with or for international law firms and who need to operate beyond their home jurisdiction. Increasingly this means foreign-trained lawyers are looking to take the New York or California State Bar Exams, or be qualified as solicitors in England and Wales.

Olu Ogunnowo

This brings me to the international journey of Olu Ogunnowo, a London-based attorney who recognised some years ago that he could expand his career opportunities greatly by becoming dual qualified. The Lagos-born lawyer saw that international law firms were increasingly opening or partnering with firms in countries like Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Egypt, and South Africa (which has a Roman Dutch system) to represent client interests in both commercial law and civil law. As global business interests reached into Africa, local understanding and good connections became very important.

This meant there was growing need for lawyers with knowledge of the region to take the U.S. bar exam or be registered to practise in England and Wales. Olu’s local insight and qualification would allow him to straddle both systems. Likewise, he knew that as the economies of his native Africa expanded, he would need to be able to operate across legal systems or risk losing business to lawyers who could. Being able to work in the international market would allow him to stand out from his peers, and most major law firms operating in Africa had offices in London or New York as well as cities like Johannesburg, Nairobi, Accra, Cairo, or Lagos.

As a U.K.-trained solicitor, Olu decided to qualify to practise in the U.S. He undertook a BARBRI International programme and passed the bar. BARBRI prepared him for the exam which, he said, was tough but he passed without trouble. With his new qualification in hand, Olu was able to move from London to New York to practise with an international law firm for two years before returning to London to go into private practice.

He has been back and forth to the U.S. on occasion—working for a Texas-based client, and says it has been a great way for him to gain more international experience and also be nearer family who live in the U.S. Being registered in multiple jurisdictions has undoubtedly shaped his career and lifestyle.

Olu once told me, “The world is shrinking, which means the legal system is shrinking. Law is a conservative profession that is very slow to change. Lawyers need to understand this and keep ahead by being aware of what is happening in society. Law graduates must be forward-thinking and always reflect on how society is likely to change.”

It’s great advice that, to this day, I still like to pass along to law students.

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.

What if I Don’t Pass the Bar Exam?

Rob Dudley,
BARBRI International Director

When I’m talking to lawyers or law graduates around the world who are considering sitting a U.S. State Bar Exam and qualifying as a U.S. attorney, one question that I hear occasionally is, “What happens if I study and sit the California or New York Bar Exam and I find that I do not pass?”

This is a very fair question.

Most of you are incredibly busy and have many obligations and demands on your time. Once you decide to study and sit a U.S. Bar Exam, you are making the decision to dedicate a portion of your precious and limited time toward this endeavor.

First, you should know that, should you choose BARBRI as your partner to prepare for the New York or California Bar Exam either through the 6 or 10-month international program, via Home Study or Classroom format, we provide you every level of support to help ensure you will pass the exam.

The sole purpose of the BARBRI International Bar Preparation program is to teach you the specific information that is needed to pass the exam. The program is designed to utilize your time in the most efficient way possible during the process. Additionally, there are real people, like me, who’s job it is in life is to support you in this endeavor every step of the way.

We are very proud of the fact that 70% of the students who completed at least 75% of the work assigned through their BARBRI Bar Preparation Personal Study Plan passed the exam the first time. This is an incredible success rate for people who were not educated in the U.S. seeking a U.S. qualification.

Even so, yes, there are candidates who put in the time and energy and ultimately fall short on the actual exam. This is why, for a bit of extra reassurance, we offer the BARBRI Guarantee.

The BARBRI Guarantee means that, if you complete our study plan but you do not pass at the first attempt, we will provide a second preparation course free of charge.

I’m here for you and ready to partner on your route to qualifying as a U.S. 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.”