Do foreign-trained attorneys who want to become members of the New York bar need to take a full bar review course?
Yes, indeed. First, the New York bar exam is notoriously difficult for most foreign-trained lawyers, and they fail at twice the rate of JDs. Not knowing enough law has to be a major reason, but there are at least five additional reasons why taking a full New York bar course is vital, not optional. And BarWrite® is objective on this question, because it does NOT offer a full bar review course. BarWrite® offers only supplemental courses, specializing in helping foreign-trained lawyers and retakers
pass the bar exam. When I refer to full New York bar courses, I mean Pieper or BarBri or Themis or Kaplan or one of the newer courses.
Here are five reasons why you must take a full bar review course:
1. A full bar review course can explain what is important for the New York bar exam and what you don't need to worry about. The amount of material is enormous, and you can't possibly learn it all. You need help sorting what is important from what is unimportant for the exam. You also need help sorting what is unique to New York law from what New York law has in common with the law of other states where you may have taken the bar exam or from the law on the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE).
2. A full bar review course can give you structure, requiring you to attend lectures, hand in essays, and do practice tests. Studying for the bar exam is stressful, lonely, and exhausting. Without structure, the days melt into each other, and you aren't sure whether you have covered material or not, or whether you have mastered it or not.
3. A full bar review course can give you feedback, telling you what you are doing right and wrong. This is key. You absolutely cannot do this for yourself. On your own, you have no way of knowing whether you are doing things right or not. You may be tempted to use whatever standards were successful on a licensing exam in your home country, or in law school. But they may be different from the standards on the New York bar exam. Not only must you take a full bar-review course, accordingly, but you must do all the exercises and hand in all the essays. Otherwise, you lack the feedback you will need.
4. A full bar review course can give you a daily plan for studying, telling you what to study and when. Having a daily plan is vital to success. You must be learning new material and reviewing old material every single day. Without a daily plan, you won't finish all of the work you need to, and you won't be ready on time to take the New York bar exam.
5. A full bar review course can give you a reading on your own rate of progress, so you know whether you are on track to get ready in time. How are you going to tell whether you are mastering the material quickly enough? You can't wait until you take the exam, because then it's too late. Tests, feedback, and structure are all key, a full bar review course can give them to you, and you cannot supply them for yourself.
What about supplemental courses? The New York bar exam is different both from U.S. law school exams and from the law exams foreign-trained lawyers have taken in their home countries. So although a full bar review course is necessary, it is often insufficient. That is why foreign-trained bar candidates should supplement their full bar review courses with courses that stress the key skills and that understand the differences between foreign and US legal training. BarWrite® teaches the key skills for American test-taking, and our students practice them every day in our BarWrite® 10-Day Coaching Group and our 4-Day Essay-MPT Combo.
To make sure that foreign-trained lawyers can learn the most-frequently tested law and learn essay-writing the American bar exam way, BarWrite® provides a number of systems, plus its "World Cup Rules"TM. These are the most-frequently tested rules of New York law in easy-to-memorize form. Thus, a lawyer who is less familiar with New York law, and especially one whose first language is not English, need not try to paraphrase or do translations during the bar exam. BarWrite also teaches useful systems for structuring the essays and the MPT and finishing on time, systems that are useful not only on the bar exam but in law practice.
But however helpful BarWrite® may be, a full bar review course is the foundation. It is key. Everyone--both JDs and LLMs--needs to take a full bar review course and LLMs often need supplemental courses. For a foreign-trained lawyer who wants to pass the bar exam and become a member of the New York bar, the full bar review course is the sine qua non, however, an absolute necessity, the foundation.
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