Lawyers/Law Students re: Bar Prep Courses

I will graduate from law school this May. Many of you have talked about Kaplan or Barbri as excellent preps for the Bar exam. Here’s my problem:

I have a child. I have to work. I can’t go without income for two months and attend daily classes. But I also want to pass the Bar, and if it means that, then I’ll have to beg, steal, or borrow money to get by. My question:

Is there a “scaled down” version of one of the two above courses (or similar)? Maybe one that I can study for a few hours a night online for a refresher at a cheaper price?

Apart from that, any other experiences or comments would be helpful from posters with experience in this area. Thank you in advance.

Depending on where you live, some BarBri classes are done at night (if that fits your schedule). They may also allow you to watch the courses online, but I’d call and ask around since they might’ve changed that (or vary it by location).

IANAL but cover technology for a large newspaper chain. A couple of years ago I wrote about an entrant in the field called BarMax, which was created by a couple of Harvard Law grads. All of the coursework – lectures, sample exams, etc – is contained in a iPad app. I’m pretty sure you can download a free demo version before shelling out full price.

As I said, I’m not a lawyer so I can’t speak to the quality of the course, although they do make some claims about pass rates on their website. I remember one of the customers/law students I spoke to saying that she liked being able to work at her own pace.

I can’t answer without knowing what state you’re talking about.

There are huge differences between taking the hellacious 3 day exam in California, and the 1 day exam in Passachusetts.

Google ‘google alerts’. This is an apparently well kept secret at the big g since no one i’ve ever told has ever heard of it.

You put in a search query and set a few parameters that are pretty much self explanatory. It will then email you when it gets hits you want.

In your case, I would recommend doing queries for the different bar review courses since it will search every craigslist and other listing on the internet for you everyday and then let you know when it finds something. If anyone on the planet is giving the books away or for cheap, it should show up someplace and google should snag it.

Also try freecycle, but for something like this, that’s more of a long shot.

The question is not whether you can get the books (they are widely available, the Kaplan/pmbr book are best for the mbe) but whether you are likely to pass after studying part time after a long day of work and child care responsibities.

That depends. For example, in my state, 13 topics are tested and most people need to learn serveral entire subjects from the ground up. Other states test only on the MBE subjects.

What Bar are you taking? Meaning, what state?

I took Virginia in 2004. I took out a 10K bar loan. Yes, there is a specific loan you can get for taking the bar (price of the classes, price of exam, two months of no work). I studied my balls off for the test. Virginia tests every subject known to man, plus we had that whole pesky division of law and equity. It was very very hard. I’m glad I passed.

In contrast:

In 2006, I decided to take the KY Bar. My family lives there. I could waive the MBE because my score was good enough, so I just had to take the KY essays. KY only tests on MBE subjects plus a few randoms. So to study: I listened to the civil procedure CD on the drive to KY, then read the BarBri review of KY oil/mineral land rights the night before in my hotel. I passed.

More specific to your OP.

You just spent three years of your life and Og knows how much on tuition to join this profession. You have one more hurdle in front of you. Statistically speaking, students who take the expensive ass Bar/Bri or Kaplan review classes, and do at least 70% of the recommended studying will pass the Bar. They are more expensive because they work.

Take out the Bar loan. Do whatever you have to do to treat studying for the Bar like a full time job. 9 hours a day for two months. Take that bitch. You will pass. Then promptly thank your spouse for the gift they have given you, and forget it all!

My state is West Virginia. I hope there is a better way than borrowing $10k. I appreciate the advice thus far, but await better news. :wink:

ETA: No spouse. She left me. My fault. I’m on my own now, but she still deserves thanks for putting up with me for several years.

I have to agree with LL. You really don’t want to have to retake the exam. That sucks. I graduated in the middle of the year so I took the exam with all of the people who failed the first time and it wasn’t a pretty sight.

You want to live, sleep, eat and breathe that shit so that you don’t even have to think about it - especially if have any test taking anxiety. Plus, if you have essays, they will give you very good instructions for how to get the most points with the least work. When I took mine, they wanted to see you hit all of the relevant issues. If there were five issues and you just rattled them off but didn’t discuss them well you did better than if you only listed two and gave them a law review article on them.

Since the OP is looking for advice, let’s move this to IMHO.

General Questions Moderator

I did not enroll in BAR/BRI. Instead, I bought a set for my state from someone who had taken the class for the most recent past sitting (my bar exam was in July 2008 and I bought books from someone who took the February 2008 bar exam). This person also provided me with her copious classnotes and completed workbooks. The whole thing cost $300 and I studied it daily for about five weeks or so.

I also took the Kaplan PMBR. This was one weekend. What I did not know was that you were supposed to read it in advance and that the weekend session was a summation of what you read. PMBR was helpful because you get two 500-page volumes of multistate bar exam questions to practice with.

I passed the bar on my first try, so it’s feasible. Illinois purportedly tests more than the six(?) MBE subjects, but I’d be hard pressed to say what those additional subjects were.

The Illinois bar is half a day for state essays and the MPT, half a day for MBE essays, and one day for MBE multiple choice questions.

The Illinois essays were a breeze. The MPT was malarkey (“performance” tests are some stupid California obsession). The MBE stuff is quite a bit more difficult.

I took a full time bar review course. I passed the first time, in California, which has a difficult exam to pass. Or so I’ve been told. I’ve never thought of practicing elsewhere.

I don’t think I would have passed if I had not taken the bar review course with a lot of practice exams.

twenty-some odd years ago, I had a choice between paying for Barbri and putting a new roof on my house.

The roof really needed to be replaced, so I bought a set of Barbri books and studied on my own. I was working full time and had a child so this required a lot of discipline and going short on sleep, but I passed the Illinois bar without any difficulties.

I do think Barbri reduces the stress quite a lot, but it’s far from essential.

I agree that review classes are not essential. The key questions, that no one can answer except you, are: “what percentage of the material do I need to learn from the ground up” and “is it actually likely that I will study with the sustained discipline needed?”

I know for a fact that for me, the answer is no. I needed the structure of a classroom to spend the time I need to spend on boring, hateful subjects like Secured Transactions and freaking per stirpes distribution. Looks like W.Va has 10 subject areas plus MBE subjects. Yeesh, that’s a lot. Personally, I wouldn’t attempt it. The answer for other people, including yourself, may be different.

They key is that you have a good honest talk with you. What you’re not going to do is study a couple hours a week, panic, and then fail the Bar. So what ARE you going to do? What’s your plan? Law school is a marathon and you have to run that last mile, and run it strong, or else the whole thing was a waste of effort. Get your mind straight, son.

This. I needed the classes to pass the VA Bar. VA is a notoriously hard Bar, particularly when we had the division of law and equity. I don’t know about WVA. When I took the KY exam, there was no stress. I was already a licensed attorney and only wanted to pass in case I ever wanted to move to KY.

Can you independently study 8 hours a day? Can you explain secured transactions to yourself? I couldn’t do either.

Good luck!!!

What is this “Bar loan” you speak of? Is it federal student aid or a private loan? Would anyone happen to have a link?

My law school financed bar loans directly. You applied to the school.

There’s already a lot of great advice given here! I work for Kaplan Bar Review and so I’d just like to offer a little more information about our online courses, which might be a good fit for you if you are like others here who have mentioned wanting the structure of a full course. As a busy parent, this option is probably your best bet of all the options we offer at Kaplan as it includes plenty of different ways to integrate your studies into your unique schedule while still giving you all of the information you need. You can learn more about it here

Unfortunately I’m not able to provide any information about grants or scholarships, so hopefully others here can help more in that area. But we do have various payment options depending on your need. If you’d like to talk to someone more about ways to balance work, parenthood, and studying for the exam, or more advice on the type of course that might work best for you, please feel free to reach out to me directly at I’m also happy to answer any questions here that you or anyone else might have!

I used BarBri, and if I remember right enrolling in the classes entitled me to all the courses in audio or video cassette form. (Probably CDs or DVDs or MP3s these days.)

I didn’t have much use for the live classes, probably only went to a couple. I’d had plenty of that kind of thing in law school itself. But I drove all over North Florida and a lot of Georgia listening to the cassettes – definitely helped me pass in an admittedly easy state (Florida). The practice exams also helped.