Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Bar Prep - This Too Shall Pass...or Fail

It's the first day of the bar exam, and unless something crazy happens (or one of you tipsters hooks us up with some dirt from the RJC or Foley Building), we're probably gonna keep talking about the bar.  That said, this morning will also have a nice real-life bar exam question. BUT FIRST...

My study group had a mantra, "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no exam, for thou art Bar/Bri."  Yeah, I was one of the sheep.  I used Bar/Bri.  I took the bar with a computer.  I tried to memorize every obnoxious trick out there to shave seconds of the MBE and find shortcuts for issue spotting.

Armadillos From Texas Play Rap, Eating Tacos

An issue that has emerged in recent years is whether these programs have become so insulated that now it's almost unheard of to do anything other than a Bar/Bri or Kaplan prep program.  From the perspective of most would-be lawyers (and many attorneys and law professors) it is considered irresponsible to try to study any other way and keep the $3 grand in your pocket.  What do you think?  Are bar prep courses really the "4L" in the quest to become a licensed attorney?  And how about anyone out there who managed to try the bar without a prep course.  Shares your triumphs (and regrets) in the comments.

OKAY.  I promised you a practice question.  While the bar exam varies from year to year, one thing that is on every exam is professional responsibility.  So, here's your fact pattern.

Let's say you were receiving large checks for legal fees.  And let's say you were putting those checks into your personal account instead of your trust account.  Then, perhaps you were to fail to provide information to your accountant for income to the tune of $900,000 that is not reported to the IRS.  And you do this for five years.  Please outline all potential consequences for this behavior.  When you're done, you can view the model answer here.

Here's a hint:
Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect $200



  1. Took the bar exam right out of law school, summer 2005 - no bar prep class, used the PMBR audio CD's (borrowed) and a couple of PMBR books with practice questions (also borrowed), only studied the multistate subjects - passed.

    The multistate exam is the key - answer 160 questions correctly and you'll pass the bar. All those other state-specific essay subjects are window-dressing. If you study enough on the multistate subjects to master the MBE, the essays will take care of themselves.

  2. Took and passed two bars without BarBri or other prep - one in 2002 and one in 2004. Like the first poster, I borrowed some multistate materials - though it was some off brand - and did well enough to pass.

  3. I took Bar/Bri and did the three day PMBR course. I passed the first time and don't regret spending the money. It has brought me a life full of joy and excitement as I sit at my desk all day, bill in six minute increments, and try to save corporate clients money.

  4. While I know people who did not take a prep course, and in one instance claims (and I believe him) to have been inebriated for the 6 weeks prior to and during the test, and still passed, I also know about a dozen who did not take the course and tried a “self study program” and failed, often more than once. All of them ultimately paid for Bar/Bri and took six weeks off work to study and then passed.. As for myself, I took Bar/Bri, used an on campus test prep assistance course, took a dozen mock tests, reviewed 10 years of prior exam model questions and answers, slept 4 hours a night for 2 months (not much different than the prior three years) and passed on my first try. My year had a 54% or so pass rate so I also considered the courses and time a good investment.

  5. It's very true that the Bar exam is a pass/fail exercise and that there is no real benefit to achieving a higher score than the lowest passing score. But I'm confident that more people have regretted under-studying than have ever regretted over-studying.

    The comment about placing great emphasis on multi-state subjects is accurate. If there is a place to over-study, it's there!

    To this summer's takers: congratulations for making it through and best wishes for a good result.

  6. 9:32 and I are kindred spirits. Well said.