Most law students are back starting off a new school year. And for the 3Ls, it is now the countdown to graduation—and the bar exam. Below is my list of 10 things 3Ls should do to set themselves up for bar exam success. So without further ado:
1. Know your graduation requirements.
Graduation is likely 200-plus days away (hard to believe, isn’t it?). That means you have just two more semesters to get all of your graduation requirements out of the way. Do you know what your graduation requirements are? No? Then go visit your law school registrar’s office. You don’t want a requirement to sneak up on you during your last semester (I am talking about you, Mr. Writing Requirement) and be a frustrating end to your academic career.
2. Take bar electives.
Although during your 3L year it may be tempting to take only electives that interest you (yes, these are important too), you want to make sure that you are taking some bar electives. You don’t want to leave a huge amount of law to learn just for the bar exam. Not sure what is tested on the bar exam? Look it up. Make smart decisions to set yourself up for bar exam success.
3. Decide which state you are going to take the bar in.
Although your plans may still be up in the air as to where you are going to settle after law school, it is important to decide where you think you might be taking the bar. That decision is likely to influence other decisions, like which bar provider to choose (different providers are available in different states). Different states also have different passage rates, which may also play into your decision.
4. Find out your state’s admission requirements.
If you know where you are going to sit for the bar exam, look up your state’s admission requirements. The National Conference of Bar Examiners has compiled a PDF with admission information for all jurisdictions available for download. Typically, states include multiple administrative requirements, such as filling out an application or moral character determination, as well as exam requirements, such as the bar exam and likely the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE). You don’t want to be surprised by anything. Do your research and make sure you get everything done in a timely manner.
5. Take the MPRE in November (if you haven’t already).
Earlier this month I posted about five tips for MPRE success. If you didn’t take the August MPRE, please sign up for the November exam. It is critical that you get this exam out of the way. You want to give yourself the opportunity to take it again, if necessary, without risking your admission timeline.
6. Start your admission paperwork.
Most states have some sort of application for bar admission. Some are called “moral character” and some are called just simply an application for admission. Regardless, the application typically requires you to compile massive amounts of information about your life. These forms are incredibly important (and time-consuming). But you must make sure they are accurate and truthful. The last thing you want is for your application to be flagged by the state bar to delay your admission (yes, this does actually happen). In addition, if you have anything of concern in your past that you are going to need to report, it may be wise to seek advice on how to report it to the state bar. And by of concern, I mean issues with a past arrest or even issues with credit or debts. If you have any doubts, you should seek guidance from an expert on reporting such issues. But don’t wait until the last minute to fill this paperwork out! You don’t want it to distract from your bar study or delay your bar admission.
7. Select a bar review provider.
Contrary to what some bar exam providers may tell you, you don’t need to sign up for a bar review course in your first year. It is in the third year that you have the information you need to select a bar review provider that will be right for you. So do your research. There are more options out there than you think. And when you research different providers, look into how the lectures are delivered, how flexible the study schedule is, and what your own individual needs might be. Oh and don’t forget to consider costs. Technology has allowed some providers to offer products at a discount if classes are taken all online. With a little thought and some research, you can make the best decision for you as you go into your bar prep. I also hosted a Twitter chat this week on how to select the best bar review provider for you. You can check out the transcript here.
8. Do some sort of exercise or activity on a regular basis.
Your 3L year can be stressful as will the bar exam prep period. However, you want to make sure you are taking care of yourself and creating good habits for coping with stress that will stay with you during the bar prep season. For many, this is making sure you incorporate some sort of exercise into your schedule. Many law students enjoy taking up yoga because it counts as exercise and relaxation (a two-for-one deal, so to speak). Others are into running or taking exercise classes at a gym. Whatever you do, make a point to make time for something like this. Not only will it be good for you during the year, but you can keep it up during the bar exam (which is good for stress management and staying healthy).
9. Plan a bar trip!
It is never too early to plan a bar trip! A bar trip is a well-honored tradition where bar takers take off immediately after the exam to some exotic (it doesn’t need to be exotic) location to recuperate. Even if cost is a concern, there are still many great trip options that are fun to plan and cost-conscious (just drive somewhere and go camping). Or ask family/friends to donate to a bar trip fund for holidays during your 3L year (or as a graduation gift). Also, if you have a significant other, the bar trip can be something you can look forward to during the bar season (turns out the bar exam can be pretty tough on him/her as well).
10. Do something fun daily at 2:00 in the afternoon.
One of the things I missed most about going to work after my 3L year was the loss of flexibility in my schedule. No more running errands in the middle of the day or taking a 2:00 p.m. jog through the park. So make sure you enjoy this while you can! Sure, 3L year is stressful, but this, for most of us, will be the last time we will be in school. So make the most of it!
Keeping these things in mind will set you up to have a great 3L year and to get your bar license.
All opinions, advice, and experiences of guest bloggers/columnists are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions, practices or experiences of Solo Practice University®.