Tag Archives: bar exam

My Thoughts On BarBri Thus Far

First, a short history on BarBri. “Bar” refers to “Bay Area Review and “Bri” stands for “Bar Review Institute.” The two were merged in 1974 and marketed thereafter as “BarBri.”

I’m nearing the end of the third full week of my BarBri bar exam review class. The first week was the Multistate Advantage; since then it’s been the “official” class, which covers the substantive law topic-by-topic.

With each new topic comes a new professor / presenter. I’ve had four professors thus far, and have been pleased with each of their presentations. However, Michael J. Kaufman of the Loyola University Chicago School of Law, who covered Agency, Partnership, and Corporations, is my clear favorite. I think my classmates would agree. He came off as eccentric in an effective and energetic way, and conveyed the outlines memorably. (It helps that he’s got an MA and a JD from the University of Michigan.)

The other presenters were:

Richard Conviser, who happens to be the Founder and Chairman of BarBri and a professor at the Chicago-Kent College of Law. He presented Torts over the first two days. While not as memorable as Kaufman, he was clear and efficient in his delivery.

Michael I. Spak of Chicago-Kent School of Law finished his presentations on the sleep-inducing areas of Commercial Paper and Suretyship yesterday. My first read of the long outline for Commercial Paper was frustrating because of the amount of information and multiple levels of detail. However, what BarBri does effectively, and what Spak did clearly was to reduce the information to a memorable shorter outline that targets what I need to know for the bar exam. Spak possesses an interesting combination of grandfatherly expressions and off-color jokes pertaining to various sexual acts, which, commendably, are not easy to slip into a presentation on Commercial Paper.

Faust F. Rossi of the Cornell University Law School presented Evidence today and will continue to do so for another four hours tomorrow. His outline boils down evidence law to logical sequences that seem to be easy to remember. I remember taking evidence in law school and feeling, at times, quite lost. His lectures highlight a distinction between studying for the bar and studying in law school. The emphasis when studying for the bar is on knowing and understanding the law, not knowing specific cases or rules. That’s a good thing! One less level of information to remember.

The class in general:

The review class is huge. I thought the class size would shrink when the “real” review classes started because there would then be morning, afternoon and evening sessions. I was completely wrong. There are far more – hundreds – of fellow lawyers-to-be. It’s weird coming from the lone law school in New Hampshire, which cranks out approximately 150 new lawyers a year, to the third largest city in the US and being amongst more students in this one review location than in my law school class. (I’m probably making an obvious point, but still – there are a lot of them!)

Studying outside of class has been bearable, but not easy by any means. I commend those classmates that work part-time and do the review. I’m sure they sacrifice their studies to a degree. There is definitely enough review and practice problems to keep me busy for the majority of the waking day. Plus, with getting settled in Chicago, I’ve been absolutely exhausted about once every seven days.

The advantage of being in a new place, however, is that when I grow restless in one study location I can take a long walk to another one. It’s fun to people watch and get some fresh air.

Greektown has been good to me thus far. I’ve had more Gyros in the last three weeks than I had in the previous three years. At six dollars for an over-stuffed gyro, fries and a drink, how can I not eat them two or three times a week? I usually go to Mr. Greek’s Gyros on the corner of Halsted and Jackson because they have free drink refills. However, I need to try the place across the street.

Good stuff. More soon!

I Live In Chicago Now

On Sunday, May 17, 2009, one day after graduating from law school, I drove from Concord, New Hampshire to Chicago, Illinois. Aside from the first two hours through the hills of southern New Hampshire and Vermont, the drive was simple and entirely on Interstate 90, the longest interstate in the United States at 3,084 miles (Seattle, WA to Boston, MA). 805 (84%) of 960 miles of my drive were on I-90.

The drive was uneventful and I arrived 2.5 hours earlier than scheduled, in time to drive around and scope out possible self-storage sheds. I said I would never again use storage, but dumping my car load of stuff seemed like the wisest thing to do. I needed my car to do some fast apartment hunting, wanting to find a place to live asap.

It took all of a day to find an apartment, and I found a great one mere blocks from my bar review class. My room has good light, which will be nice during the endless hours of studying I’ll be doing this summer. I’ll be moving in tomorrow.

My next goal is to get back to working out. I’ve been off for a few weeks now, thanks to exams, graduation, and moving. Until I find a reasonably priced gym, I plan on focusing on running and other self-sufficient workouts such as push-ups, sit-ups, etc. I’ve found that YouTube is a good source for inspiration for different activities.

I’ve already got a wishlist for my time in Chicago:

  • Single-speed bike

Chicago Tips? Things to do? Want to say hi? Email me via the Contact form in the upper right of this page.

BarBri Early Start

I’m about to start the BarBri Early Start program. For some reason the name makes me think of a sober house or clean living – preparing for the bar is quite sobering, albeit less of a health risk.

This is the beginning of my formal bar training. It seems far too early, but there’s a few of us here – the few who have paid at least $1500 out of $3000 due to be re-taught what we’ve learned during the past three years of law school.

These Early Start sessions take place on each of the next five weekends, take about five to six hours each, provide general test-taking advice, and cover broad legal topics often tested on the bar exam such as Torts, Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, Contracts, Property, Evidence and Constitutional Law.

I arrived early enough to get my seat at the top/back of the tiered classroom and donuts were provided – I got my butternut. Cheers to a fun Sunday of bar prep followed by more work! At least it’s sunny out.

Illinois Bar It Is

I don’t know if deciding on a state in which to take the bar and subsequently practice law was easy for most, but it was subtly grueling for me. There are many factors I can cite that have complicated the decision. First is that I do not yet have a job lined up. If I did, it would be a no brainer to take the bar required to start my job. Second is that I’ve spread my networking base and presence a bit thin over the past five years by working in Virgina and going to law school in New Hampshire, and now have to make adjustments and work harder to make up for my past.

With that said I’ve decided to apply for the July Illinois State Bar Exam. My intention is to practice in or near Chicago. I like the city very much, it is close to family, and many of my friends now live and work there. Further, if the decision is between the Illinois bar and the Michigan bar, I have more leeway in transferring my MBE score from IL to MI (3 year) than I do from MI to IL (1 year).

While the Feb 1st deadline is forcing my decision, it is by no means the reason for my decision. I have for a long time been undecided, but MI and IL have always been the forerunners unless there was something significant that compelled me to go elsewhere. That hasn’t happened, and if it does I’ll deal with it in due time.

For the immediate future, my focus is on finishing the Illinois application in the next three days, then diving into the job search.