Wednesday, April 06, 2011

D. Boon Cilled a Bar in Year 1760

Sara asks:
[W]ould someone create a thread for 3Ls with questions about BarBri, bar studying, and the bar exam? Thanks!
Here it is.

If Sara asked for the thread because she suspects that there is more than one way to "kill a bar," she's right. I have my own list of tips, thoughts, and soothing reminders to share, but I suspect they'll percolate through the comments on this post without much contribution from me. If there is a bottom line message to convey, it is this: no matter what it feels like, you'll be okay!

Update 04/06/11 (Patrick): Esteemed Boalt alums (and bar slayers) Steve Ullmer and Toney Jacobson will give a talk at Boalt on April 21st, from 12:45-1:45 p.m., on the bar, barbri, and how you can "utilize technology in studying to maximize efficiency and free time over the summer." (If that reads like a BTLJ thing, it is . . . so, the food should be great you may rest assured that you can text and email freely without annoying the speakers.)



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unless you are bottom 1/3rd of class you are going to pass. Amazing how so many people worry about this when most students here are at absolutely no risk of failing.

4/06/2011 10:54 AM  
Blogger Patrick said...

I don't think it is very amazing that people worry about it. The bar exam is the great barrier into the profession, and it is hard to escape the feeling that everyone is watching.

I also don't think that most students at Boalt are at "absolutely no risk of failing." Flukes, curve balls, and freak accidents happen. But by and large, 10:54 is right: the odds are stacked WAY in your favor.

This is true even if you are in the bottom third of your class. Even there, the odds are still good that you will pass. I know it may not feel like it, but students at low-ranked and for-profit law schools across this state would kill to be in your shoes.

4/06/2011 11:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And I know plenty of people in the top 1/3 of their class at Boalt that didn't pass in previous years. Is there a correlation? Sure. But don't think because you are at the top you'll pass for sure.

4/06/2011 11:05 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Plus the fact that everyone worries about it is part of the reason most people pass the first time. If you didn't freak the fuck out, you wouldn't study your ass off; and if you don't study your ass off, you may very well fail.

I'm not trying to scare anyone, but being scared is also the only thing that motivated me. So maybe I am trying to scare people. It's a delicate line.

4/06/2011 12:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

10:54 here, not trying to be a snob or anything. I guess I do not need to freak the fuck out to give a good effort. Freaking out is a waste of time which makes you less efficient.

My advice would be: just make sure to get plenty of legals and shit on everyone to reduce the stress. I think we can all agree to that.

4/06/2011 12:54 PM  
Blogger Patrick said...

That's right. When you are sitting in the testing center come July, look to the person at your left, then to the person at your right, and think to yourself: "Hell yes! I got legals on all'yall!"

4/06/2011 12:57 PM  
Blogger Toney said...

I was just informed that there will not be food at our bar talk, just in case y'all were really banking on it. So bring your own lunch!

4/06/2011 1:15 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4/06/2011 1:19 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

I definitely got a legal and shit during the MBE. Not all over everyone, though. I made it to the bathroom. And I gotta say, that was a satisfying shit.

As long as this thread has already devolved into scatalogical humor, I might as well share my favorite memory from my bar experience.

About halfway through the MBE, there was a lengthy property question (advice: skip lengthy property questions) to which I am sure no one knew the answer. One of the choices was "The Rule in Dumpor's Case," which I had never heard of in barbri or law school, and I was pretty sure no one else had either. So then I decided to watch people for a while, and I could literally tell exactly when anyone got to that question. They would like pause, look around, and occasionally silently mouth, "Dumpor's case?"

Ultimately, I came to use "Dumpor's Case" as a fun euphemism for bowel movements. For example, if you need to excuse yourself for such activity, you can say, "Excuse me, I need to go file a claim for relief in Dumpor's Case." And then when you return, you can exclaim "Dumpor's claim for relief was granted!" And in extreme cases, "Dumpor was awarded punitive damages." Etc. Etc.

This has been "Making the Bar Exam Work for You," by Dan.

4/06/2011 1:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would say three things:

1) Stick to the Barbri schedule to the extent you can. It's a bit on the ambitious side, so don't feel too bad if you can't totally keep up with it. But it provides a nice road map so you don't get too bogged down in any one topic.

2) Focus on the MBE topics (essentially your 1L classes + evidence) at the expense of non-MBE topics, if you have to choose. You have to know way more about the MBE topics since you're taking detailed multiple choice questions on them, and plus there often seem to be a bunch of essay questions on them anyway.

3) You're unlikely to get an HH on this, and you don't need one, so don't even try. Don't freak out if you don't know every little crevice of the law.

Crevasse? I've never known the difference.

4/06/2011 2:59 PM  
Blogger JohnSteele said...

fwiw, Professional Responsibility is the most often tested subject on the essay portion of the California bar exam, and the PR outline i offer to Boalt students has an appendix outlining the past ten years of PR essay questions, so you can spot recurring fact patterns, and has an appendix listing the principal differences between the ABA and California approaches (over the past 5 years or more, the California bar exam essay question on PR has asked test takers to note any major differences between the ABA and California approaches), and has an Appendix with some mnemonics that may be useful on the PR essay question. i offer the outline to Boalties on the one condition that they not forward it to others. shoot me an email if you think it might help. good luck.

4/06/2011 4:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any advantage to going to the classes rather than watching online, other than the potential to meet other nervous people to hook up with?

4/06/2011 4:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I decided to take Themis instead of BarBri (going into public interest, and an extra $2500 was just too impossible to pass up). Can someone reassure me that this was an okay idea, and I haven't doomed myself?

4/06/2011 5:48 PM  
Blogger Sara said...

4:40 asked my first question: do I really have to GO to class if its impossible on a few days? (kids and a hubby in school). What will I miss if I watch online?

Second: 4 hours in class + 4-6 hours/day + 6-8 hours on Sat & Sun. Really? Seriously? What a bummer.

The Barbri schedule shows the last class/practice exam on July 11. The last two weeks you are on your own?

Thanks for starting the thread.

4/06/2011 9:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, here are my two cents:

1) You can definitely miss some live classes--just make sure to catch up by watching online. There are a lot of opinions on the value of attending live lectures v. watching at home. I did a combination of both, and it worked for me.

2) How many hours--I took one day off on the weekends up until about 3 weeks before the bar, when I started studying 7 days a week. I really recommend taking one day off a week to keep your sanity. In my experience, if you do class plus 4 hours of studying a day, you are doing well.

3) The last two weeks you're on your own. You need this time because up until then, you're learning new material all the time. The last two weeks you just review, review, review and practice your weak spots.

Good luck guys, you can do it!

4/06/2011 10:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The best advice I got my bar summer, which came from a professor, was: "Study really hard. But don't worry too much, because you're gonna pass." A few smaller things:

1) Sara, I never went to class, watched everything online. I highly recommend this.

2) I mostly ignored the BarBri schedule, but I think one way the schedule can be useful is forcing you to get a lot done before mid-June. This may or may not impact your odds of passing the bar, but it will have a huge impact on what your life is like during the month leading up to the bar.

3) Listen to John Steele. I just did whatever he told me to, and I felt good about the PR material.

4) Ignore classmates who call you a slacker. Also ignore classmates telling you how to "utilize technology in studying to maximize efficiency and free time over the summer." Just internalize the material however works best for you -- for me it was helpful to read through the in-class outlines over and over -- and then have a beer or spend some time with your kids. You'll be fine.

4/07/2011 8:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

2010 NY Bar-taker (and passer) here:

Get used to walking out of practice exams feeling like you knew only 25-50% of the material you saw. Abandon any longing you feel for those college exams where you left feeling like "I knew everything except for question 12, and on that one I think my answer was a very educated guess." On the Bar, you will never have mastery over the material. This doesn't mean that you're stupid. Actually, you're very smart. But, on the Bar, accept your mediocrity. That's the nature of this exam: the Bar examiners test a crazy-wide range of material, and you need to show them that you've seen SOME of it before in your life.

From what I saw, the people who were the most stressed/had the most breakdowns were the people who took their lack of mastery too seriously. If you're mediocre on the bar (i.e., if you only know 40-60% of the material you come across), you're doing great.

4/07/2011 9:27 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

I also watched almost all of the classes at home, and I thought it worked out fine.

5:48, I don't know what Thamis is, but I'm sure you haven't doomed yourself. I know plenty of people who didn't do barbri and still passed. Of course, they usually got the books somehow and, in some cases, found a way to watch the lectures with a friend (not that I am condoning any such surrupticious activity).

I studied far less than the "class + four hours" that someone recommended. I usually did class plus like maybe 1/2 of what barbri said to do that day. Sometimes less. You can guage how confident you feel about certain subjects and respond accordingly. I think I probably took two or three of the Torts MBE practice tests, but I did every last one of the Contracts. Allocate your time in a way that will best help you, or if that scares you too much, stick with Barbri's schedule.

4/07/2011 9:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

for the singles out there, find a local hook-up buddy to help "release" the tension.

- lawyer

4/07/2011 11:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

for the Greeks out there, find a local god to help "release" the Kraken.


4/07/2011 11:40 AM  
Blogger Toney said...

8:06 - I totally disagree about ignoring students who teach how to "utilize technology in studying to maximize efficiency and free time over the summer". Mostly because I'm giving the talk, but also because it was really cool not to have to be on the hook for making infinity flash cards, and to be able to leverage other people's efforts. Of course, if what suits you best is to wall yourself off and study outlines, then by all means, do it.

I went to about 4 classes, and then just started watching the videos online from home. I made outlines while watching the videos, so the videos took me longer than the lectures would otherwise, but shorter than someone who went to the lectures and then went home and wrote up their outlines from their notes. The barbri schedule is silly, and actually varies pretty intensely depending on your live lecture location. I ended up finishing the videos about 1.5 weeks early, but while I was making outlines from the videos, I wasn't doing much of the non-lecture studying that barbri tells you to do.

4/07/2011 5:33 PM  
Blogger McWho said...

I liked the barbri schedule because I didn't want to waste time figuring out what study method would be effective. There are many ways to study, but barbri found a very effective one. I greatly appreciate myself for making that decision.

You are a sheep, munching through the meadow. Just eat the grass you paid 4k for.

4/07/2011 7:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

per 11:11's suggestion, anyone wanna be my hook-up buddy?

4/07/2011 10:35 PM  
Blogger Kathleen said...

I went to class because having somewhere to be at a particular time was the only way to get me up at 8 am every morning. I was also nice to hang out with fellow Boalties every day. I did take a few days off and go on vacations, so I had to catch up with video a few times, and that worked fine.
I spent, in addition to class, about 3 hours studying (basically how long it took to do the practice tests assigned for each day). Sometimes I doubled up so I could have Sunday off, etc. I made no flashcards and relied on the barbri outlines. Frankly, I think making your own flashcards and outlines are a huge waste of time for something like the bar, and doing practice questions (in a real, test-like environment) give you far more bang for your buck.
Since I had pretty much every single evening free for the summer, I had more free time than when I was in law school.

4/08/2011 9:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm thinking of just doing Bar Review course in my local area to save money and live with parents. The only law school nearby is some CBA accredited school filled with people who are likely illiterate and should be cleaning toilets instead. Does it make a difference to study with people from at least reputable law school, worth making a 40 minute commute everyday?

4/08/2011 10:02 AM  
Blogger Patrick said...

No. In fact, it sounds like it would be good for you.

4/08/2011 10:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Care to explain why? I did not mean to come off so harshly and am obviously using hyperbole. I also did not mean to insult janitors, out of the the many janitors and many CBA students I have chatted with through the years, the former group is certainly significantly more intelligent.

4/08/2011 10:15 AM  
Blogger Patrick said...

Well, I don't know if avoiding people who are "likely illiterate" is best done by surrounding yourself with "with people from at least reputable law school" . . . but I do know that I passed the bar while studying entirely on my own, surrounded by nobody. I'm sure you can, too. Save some money and some wear and tear on your car. So long as living with your parents during a stressful time doesn't drive you crazy,you'll be fine.

4/08/2011 10:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

watch the videos at home at 1.5X speed. You will save so much time and won't miss a thing.

4/08/2011 10:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

*sits home watching barbri video* *mom brings me a delicious sandwich* sounds good to me

4/08/2011 11:34 AM  
Anonymous real lawyer said...

Sara: "Second: 4 hours in class + 4-6 hours/day + 6-8 hours on Sat & Sun. Really? Seriously? What a bummer."

If that's how you feel, you might not like being a real lawyer very much.

4/08/2011 11:39 AM  
Blogger Dave said...

Oh yeah, the 1.5x speed thing is a KEY tip. Here's an ATL article on how to do it. (For now, it's only possible on PCs, I think.)

4/08/2011 11:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

5:48 here.

Really? No one who reading this post knows anyone that has ever taken a non BarBri course successfully, or is planning to this year? Not as reassuring as I hoped.

4/08/2011 1:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seconding 11:39 with the qualification that "real lawyer" is an obnoxious term. My experience is roughly along the lines of what Sara describes (and, yes, it can be a bummer, though the occasional trip to N&B helps). But not every practicing lawyer works this much, and that doesn't mean they aren't "real" lawyers.

4/08/2011 1:20 PM  
Anonymous quasi real lawyer said...

sheesh... I just meant that I was a practicing lawyer, not a law student. I don't think my post implied that if you don't work a ton of hours you're not a real lawyer.

4/08/2011 3:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Fair enough. Consider my pissiness retracted.


4/08/2011 5:50 PM  
Blogger Armen said...

Spoken like a real lawyer!

4/08/2011 5:52 PM  
Blogger Sara said...

I realize I'll be working long hours as a lawyer. I'll also be getting paid to do so. This is my last summer with any significant free time, so yes, I did think it was a bummer to study 8-10 hours/day. I don't think its a sin to want to know if you can get by with less. I overstudied for the MPRE and there is no advantage in passing either test by a large amount.

4/08/2011 6:39 PM  
Blogger Armen said...

Yes, but the stakes of not passing the bar are far greater. I'm not saying to this to cause some panic attacks or induce anxiety. I just think a cavalier attitude, especially this early, is not appropriate. The bar is over in late July. You have from then until whenever you start your job (which seems later and later) to enjoy free time. MPRE...totally ok to mail it in (sorry John). Bar...not so much.

That also doesn't mean you should deprive yourself of days off, guilty internet pleasures, etc. All you have to do is look at the threads from summers past and you can see there's a whole like category of posts dedicated to bar distractions.

4/08/2011 6:45 PM  
Blogger Sara said...

I didn't realize I had a cavalier attitude. I'm certainly not going to "phone it in." Is it not ok to ask for real information from fellow Boalties? I'm really confused by the turn this has taken. I'm a grownup, with kids, and I've already made great sacrifices in attending law school. I just want to know if 10 hrs/day for 2.5 months is really necessary.

4/08/2011 7:45 PM  
Blogger Patrick said...

Sara, the answer is that 10 hours a day for months on end is excessive. Now is a good time to practice rising above the hype and trusting your instincts, both of which will help you stay sane between now and late July.

4/08/2011 7:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm planing on taking the NY bar. Barbri apparently "strongly encourages" one to take "another state’s bar exam concurrently with the New York Bar Exam" (they suggest MA/NJ). Anyone have experience doing this? Any thoughts on whether just studying for NY would give one a decent shot at passing MA/NJ without any additional effort (aside for sitting for the second exam)?

4/08/2011 9:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This advice is all dandy, but I'd like to hear from someone who failed, how lazy were you?

4/09/2011 11:04 AM  
Blogger Armen said...

Sara, please don't take my comment personally. I don't know your study habits or what works for you or anything for that matter. That said, although people do not pass for a wide variety of reasons, one of the most common refrains I've encountered is that they treated the bar like a Boalt final (i.e., P = JD, yada yada yada). Contrast this with students from like USF, where they offer courses on taking the bar, and you can see that the 2.5 months is very compressed and you are already starting at a disadvantage because exam discipline has not been drilled into Boalties as it has in other schools.

So I naturally cringe when I hear people asking about the minimum they can do to get by. I think that's flirting a little too closely with disaster. Sure, not passing the bar the first time around is not the end of the world. However, when the economy was at its worst, firms used not passing the bar as an easy guide post to determine which associates to lay off. And once you go through the bar study process, you definitely will not want to repeat that. So that's why I think the incentive to give it your all for the next 2.5 months is probably greater than not. Does this mean you have to follow Bar/Bri's regiment precisely? No of course not. Patrick's comment in that regard is spot on. Work hard, but maintain sanity. I hope that better explains my thoughts on this.

As for the NY + 1 Jurisdiction question someone asked about, that's a new one. My gut reaction is not to do it. First, when are you going to practice in Massachusetts? Maintaining current status is not only pricy but it's time consuming with CLEs, etc. If you ever do work on a case in another jurisdiction, you can always apply for pro hac vice admission. Second, learning Federal + NY distinctions is one thing, but then adding Mass distinctions to boot? Bleh. You have finite mental resources, concentrate on the jurisdiction you will be working in. This really sounds like those service plans that Best Buy tries to sell you...thanks but no thanks.

4/09/2011 1:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow, 10:02am's comment on illiterate people and janitors... Really brings out the best of Boalties from the woodwork. So much for our caring, nonjudgmental student body.

Get off the "I go to Boalt so I'm so smart" highhorse. That attitude really doesn't cut it in the real world, and it embarasses us (me). Moreover, it's not always true.

4/09/2011 2:44 PM  
Blogger Sara said...

At the risk of sounding cavalier again, what's up with the intro/preview days (the first three days). Someone, though I forget who, told me they thought they were a waste of time. And I ask because my oldest daughter graduates from high school Sunday after our graduation, and since I'm flying back for that, I'd kinda like to stay the whole week. If it IS helpful though, I would not cavalierly miss it :).

4/10/2011 2:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sara--unless things have changed significantly (which I doubt), I missed the first week of Barbri and went to make-up classes and it was not a problem. The Intro sessions explain the structure of the bar and what a PT is, etc; go to your daughter's graduation and stay for the week.
And studying for about 8 hours a day during the week and 4-6 during the week is a great schedule. I loved bar exam summer--so much more free time than I have now! It may sound like a lot, but compared to what your schedule is probably like currently--if you're taking a full class load and are involved in a journal and/or any other activities, you're already doing more than that but aren't realizing it.

4/10/2011 4:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sara, I didn't attend, and never made up, the intro week. Friends who attended told me it was a waste of time. For the love of god, stay the full week for your daughter's graduation.

4/10/2011 8:44 PM  
Blogger Sara said...

Thank you! I changed my flight. Yay for no penalty at Southwest. Of course, I'll have to cross my fingers for no holes appearing in the fuselage. I know I'd heard that from someone last year, though I couldn't remember who.

4/11/2011 9:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I was in the bottom half of my class at Boalt (does anyone actually know if they are in the bottom 1/3? and how?)

I missed the first few days of the preview because I was on vacation. I also skipped a few other days (mostly Saturdays) to travel. Don't worry about missing a class YOU CAN WATCH THEM ALL ONLINE LATER.

I watched/attended every lecture, and then studied 1-2 hours a day after. I always took Sunday and Saturday afternoons off. The last two weeks I probably studied 10-12 hours a day and took the Monday before the exam off completely.

I didn't fail. (I sure thought I might have though).

4/22/2011 1:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of the things that worries me the most is that people have said the MBE questions on the test are A LOT harder than barbris questions. Is that true? If so did anyone have luck finding questions that were similar in difficulty to the actual exam?

4/24/2011 12:01 PM  
Blogger Armen said...

Why does that worry you?

This is an issue of resource allocation. MBE is worth roughly 35% of your total score. Of that 35%, let's say half the questions are genuinely hard...that brings us to 17.5% of your total score. Are you better off scouring for questions that have comparable difficulty or just learning the material tested by those questions to give you the best shot of answering them? I've always considered the latter to the more prudent approach because it arms you to tackle MBE questions as well as essays.

Plus, all questions are scored the same on the MBE. Skip/guess on the truly hard ones, and go after the low hanging fruits. I just would not worry at all about the level of difficulty of questions. PMBR is known for having ridiculously difficult questions that are completely unrealistic. I just don't see the value. The Bar/Brie questions are adequate to teach you the subjects and give you a feel for them. You'll be fine.

The real dilemma is whether to watch Treme or not.

4/24/2011 12:09 PM  
Blogger Armen said...

That second paragraph is a mess. My overall point is that the level of difficulty of the question does not add anything meaningful. You either know the answer or you don't. As an example, PMBR has questions that are even harder than the MBE. But that doesn't mean when you encounter a difficult question on the MBE that you're suddenly going to know the answer because you took PMBR. In fact you're not because the more difficult questions tend to test minute details that are in fact hard to prepare for. So the best bang for you buck is to learn the subjects, including by doing as many essays and MC questions as you can. That way you are prepared for all questions, at all levels of difficulty.

The lesson to be learned is that you don't need to answer ALL questions, just enough of them.

4/24/2011 12:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I took the July 2010 bar, and while some of the MBE questions were a bit harder than BarBri's, I can't say that they were uniformly more difficult than BarBri's.

This is just a random hypothesis, but I think that some of the feeling that the MBE is harder than BarBri's practice questions is due to the general level of anxiety of taking the "real" thing.

Two practical points:

First, you are great at taking multiple choice tests. You killed the LSAT, and you've probably been killing standardized tests since you first learned to fill in a scantron bubble. Relax.

Second, it doesn't really matter if the MBE questions are much harder than the practice ones. The exam score is scaled, accounting for difficulty. If it's hard for you, it's also hard for everyone else taking the exam.

4/29/2011 11:33 AM  
Anonymous Bill said...

Such a great article which. You have your own list of tips, thoughts, and soothing reminders to share, but It suspect they'll percolate through the comments on this post without much contribution from me. If there is a bottom line message to convey, it is this: no matter what it feels like, you'll be okay. Thanks for sharing this article.

3/28/2012 4:09 PM  

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