Do foreign-trained attorneys who want to become members of the New York bar need to take a full bar review course?
Yes, indeed, says Dr. Mary Campbell Gallagher, a graduate of Harvard Law School and president of BarWrite® and BarWrite press. There are at least five reasons, she says, why a full New York bar course is vitally important. 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 Dr. Gallagher refers to full New York bar courses, she means Pieper or BarBri or Themis or Kaplan.
If you are a foreign-trained lawyer, here are Dr. Gallagher's 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.
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. But they may be different from the standards on the New York bar exam.
4. A full bar review course can give you a daily plan for studying, telling you what to study every day. 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 just 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 tests, so you know exactly how much progress you are making. How are you going to tell whether you have mastered the material? You can't wait until you take the exam, 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.
Many foreign-trained bar candidates study for a year in an American law school, Dr. Gallagher says, but they rarely learn the bar-exam subjects the same way that JDs learn them. So although a full bar review course is necessary, it may be insufficient. That is why foreign-trained bar candidates need to supplement their full bar review courses. To make sure that foreign-trained lawyers can learn the most-frequently tested law, BarWrite® provides its "World Cup Rules"TM. These are the most-frequently tested rules of New York law in easy-to-memorize form. Thus, a lawyer whose first language is not English need not try to do translations during the bar exam. BarWrite also teaches useful systems for finishing the essays and the MPT on time, systems that are useful not only on the bar exam but in law practice. Nonetheless, the full bar review course is the foundation. It is key.
Everyone--both JDs and LLMs--needs to take a full bar review course and supplemental courses. But 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, an absolute necessity.
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