By Bob Cohen, BARBRI Vice President
At the core of these common student questions is the common misperception that law school should prepare them for the bar exam. That is not the case.
LAW SCHOOL DOESN’T TEACH TO THE BAR
The purpose of law school is to develop critical thinking skills. Take first year exams. They are discussion-oriented, calling upon your ability to “think like a lawyer.” The purpose of the bar exam is dramatically different. Bar examiners want you to learn an incredible amount of material that calls upon your knowledge of local law. While some law schools incorporate local state law into their curriculum, most professors do not teach with the bar exam in mind.
Bar examiners are looking for an answer-oriented analysis. On a bar exam essay, you can actually provide an incorrect conclusion based upon wrong law, yet attain points by presenting a clear, logical legal analysis. Obviously, you will score more points by applying the correct rules of law; however, the analysis leading to your definitive answer is the key to success.
BAR EXAM TOPICS DO CHANGE
If you’re plan it to choose classes based upon topics tested on the bar, keep in mind that bar-tested topics do change. Several years ago, for example, the New York bar exam dropped Personal Income Tax and Bankruptcy and added New York Professional Responsibility. Although not tested on the New York bar, Personal Income Tax relates to almost every aspect of a legal practice. A tax foundation attained in law school might also help make you a well-rounded lawyer. Similarly, Bankruptcy is currently one of the hottest fields of practice but is irrelevant for New York bar exam purposes.
GO WITH WHAT YOU REALLY WANT TO DO MOST
BARBRI’s advice: select classes of most interest to you and in areas you intend to practice. Keep an eye towards your legal future – beyond your school’s required curriculum. If you are interested in a career as a prosecutor, take electives such as Criminal Procedure and Trial Advocacy. If you want to practice matrimonial law, choose Family Law as an elective.
If you happen to be interested in two electives offered at the same time, consider the one more frequently tested on the bar. You can obtain a bar subject frequency chart from BARBRI or speak with a BARBRI Director of Legal Education for assistance.
WITH BARBRI BAR REVIEW, YOU ARE BARBRI READY
The mark of a good bar review course is that it doesn’t attempt to take the place of what you learned in law school. The BARBRI bar review course guides you through what you either did or did not learn in law school, shows you how each subject will be presented on the bar and then gives you everything you need to be BARBRI ready – to pass the first time. Add to that your quality law school education and you are prepared to succeed in life.