The Lowdown on the MPRE

MPRE

GUEST BLOG Makenzie Way, 2L at the University of Pennsylvania Law School

We all know that to practice as an attorney we must take the dreaded bar examination. Many of us also know that part of registering for the bar exam is the Character and Fitness Test. Law students are divided on whether they’re aware of the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) Requirement … so what is the MPRE?

Exam Structure and Overview

First off, it’s really nothing to stress about! The MPRE is a short two-hour, 60 questions multiple choice exam that is offered multiple times a year (generally, once in November, March, and August). Registration is done online and takes a matter of minutes.

Most importantly, the completion of your school’s professional responsibility course is not a requirement for registration.

When to Take the Exam Quiz

  • What year are you in law school currently?
    1. 1L
    2. 2L
    3. 3L
  • How full is your course and/or social schedule this semester?
    1. Extremely packed. I’m almost at the max credit allowance.
    2. It’s law school; I’m busy, but I still have some free time.
    3. Totally laid back.
  • Is there an MPRE examination center near your law school?
    1. They’re all pretty far away and I don’t have a car.
    2. There’s one pretty close!
    3. My school is a test center.
  • What is your summer job like?
    1. I’ll be working abroad.
    2. I’ll be in a US city for the average 10-weeks.
    3. I’m not working at all.
  • Have you taken professional responsibility yet?
    1. Uh no …
    2. I’m registered in it now.
    3. Obviously.

Mostly A’s: Sorry 1L’s, you must be a 2L or 3L to register for the MPRE! Otherwise, for eligible participants, it is not recommended that you take the Fall and/or Spring exam offering if your schedule is extremely busy since you likely will not have the time to devote to studying for the exam. Likewise, if you’re away for the summer, or working throughout August, it is not recommended that you take the August offering.

Mostly B’s: It sounds like you’re fairly flexible when it comes to enrollment options. If you’re interested in getting the exam out of the way, consider registering for the summer exam offering as you’ll have finished your professional responsibility course by that point! Otherwise, keep the MPRE in mind when registering for your Fall/Spring semester courses. You’ll want to make time during one of those semesters if you don’t opt for the summer offering.

Mostly C’s: You urgently need to register for the nearest MPRE! As a 3L you need your MPRE score to register for the bar exam. Don’t risk ruining your bar trip and interfering with your bar exam studying schedule by registering for the summer offering. Instead, head to the MPRE website now and register for the upcoming Spring semester offering before registration closes!


MPRE

Cost

The cost for the MPRE recently increased, as of 2019 if you register on time the fee is $125, however late registrations will now be charged $220 (a comprehensive fee and registration outline can be found here)! You are not charged at the time of registering, instead, you pay when you arrive at the test center – so if you’re short on cash, don’t feel dismayed from registering anyways.

On the topic of payment, if you’re going to a medium to large sized law firm, your firm may reimburse you for your MPRE test and preparatory course. Don’t hesitate to ask your firm if this is an applicable “bar-related” expense. Likewise, if you’re going into public interest, it can’t hurt to ask your law school if there are funding sources available to help with MPRE associated costs.

Recommended Preparation

Most law students who have completed the MPRE that I talked to seemed to agree that taking a course in professional responsibility before taking the exam is a smart decision. Otherwise, they stressed that preparation is relatively minimal, especially in comparison to the bar exam. Still, most students said they enrolled in at least one virtual prep course.

Preparatory courses are offered by many of the same companies who offer bar exam prep courses. Similar to the bar prep courses, the cost differs from company to company. As a plug for BARBRI, their MPRE review course is FREE!

3L-itis: Staying Motivated Your 3L Year

3L

Guest Blog by Courtney Boykin, 3L at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law

Have you guys ever heard of “senior-itis?”

It’s this idea that as time approaches to graduation, the motivation to do basically anything is practically nonexistent.

I had senioritis pretty badly in high school. By the time I became a senior in college, it was a totally different level of “I don’t care.” Now that I’m just a few months out from completing my law courses, my motivation to do anything is slim to none. I definitely have a touch of “3L-itis.”

As true as that statement may be, it is EXTREMELY important to stay motivated. You must maintain that level of tenacity that’s gotten you to this point. How terrible would it be to start slacking your last semester? If anything we should want to go out with a “bang.”

3L

In order to keep a significant level of motivation, it’s important to remember why you started. Some of us have very moving stories pertaining to why we’re in law school or how we got here. Remember those stories and let them catapult you to a GRAND exit!

Personally, I’m motivated by the thought of the people I get to help if I strongly finish this process. I can only imagine the people that will significantly benefit from the knowledge I’ve acquired over these past few years. Honestly, just writing this blog encouraging you all to finish strong encourages me.

So, finish strong! We got this guys!

Let me hear how you’re staying motivated. Send me a shout-out on Twitter or Instagram: @The3Llife

The 1L Job Search: The Importance on Cover Letters

GUEST BLOG Stephanie Baldwin, 1L at the University of Arizona

If your school is anything like mine, while we are barely into the second semester, deadlines for job postings for the Spring OCI period for 1Ls are quickly closing. If you did not take my advice from my last blog of the Fall semester, you might find yourself scrambling to gather your materials, or you might be sweating bullets over your GPA and think all hope is lost. But there is a piece of the application, that is often overlooked, that might help salvage your efforts. The cover letter.

A powerful cover letter can often help open doors that might otherwise be locked. Here are three tips that can take your cover letter from bland to door opener.

1)  The basics: Address it Properly!

We were lucky enough at my school to not only have a class called Prepare to Practice, that helped us prepare our cover letters and resumes in October and November, but last week a law firm came to our school to talk to us about the Spring OCI process. The number one issue, that can absolutely close a door, even with a high GPA, is if you address the cover letter to the wrong firm!

This seems like an impossible mistake, but this has been brought up time and time again. Remember how you had to make sure your essay was to the right school during law school applications? Same rules apply here. Double check who it is addressed to as well that you do not mention ANY other firm besides the one you are sending the letter to in the text. Be sure to look at the job listing to see who and how the cover letter is supposed to be addressed. Failing to follow this simple instruction can also close doors.

1L Job Search

2)  Take it to the Next level: Connect the dots!

Why this firm, judge, or inhouse position? What does their 1L summer program offer that you can benefit from over others? You can find this information by reviewing the website for the firm, nonprofit or judge. After you discover this, think about what you have to offer. Have you worked in other positions similar to the work you will do there? Have you never had a law job but have transferable skills like public speaking? Look at the job description and attempt to “tie in” the skills or attributes of what they are looking for that match your own abilities. This shows that you are really interested in working there. Also, it demonstrates from the beginning, how you are different from other applicants.

3)  Expert Level: Personalization!

Have you met a partner or spoken to an associate of the firm? If so, be sure to mention that person by name. Have you volunteered with the organization in some way, or attended a conference they have hosted? Include that information as well. To really stand out, you want to make sure the reader understands that you have customized the cover letter just for them. Again, reviewing their website can provide valuable insights. You want to look for things they highlight and discover what they feel sets them apart from others. Once you know what this is, talk about it and make a personal connection to what is important to them.

Best of luck on your job search, and understand that paid 1L positions are very rare, but understand the interviews you do in Spring OCI are preparing you for 2L Fall OCI! Do you have any other suggestions for cover letters? If so let me know over at the @The1LLife on Twitter or Instagram.

Graduation Deadlines: Cross your T’s and dot your I’s!

Graduation

Guest Blog by Courtney Boykin, 3L at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law

Welcome back!

Can you believe that we’re in the Spring semester of our 3L year? For some of us, that means we’re graduating in a few months.

Although we’re so close, there are still some classes and other graduation business in the way. Speaking of graduation business, have you applied to graduate? Have you checked your transcript? Have you made sure that everything is in order?

Maybe this seems like a silly topic to write about, but let me just speak from my recent experiences.

Early last week I happened to email one of my advisors just to ensure that everything course-related was up to speed. I am in the process of getting what my school calls a “health law certificate.” I was almost sure that I had completed or was VERY close to completing the certificate and I decided that I just wanted to make sure.

Graduation

To my surprise, my advisor told me that I wasn’t on track to getting the certificate because I hadn’t taken a specific course. What?! I couldn’t believe it! I’d been so sure to check and re-check everything to make sure I took the requisite courses.

We’d already been in class for 2 days but I was determined to find a spot in the course. After emailing multiple professors, I found a spot and now am on track to completing the certificate.

While this issue only deals with a certificate and not my completion of the law program, I can’t imagine what would happen if I found out it affected a course I need for graduation purposes.

My advice to you, especially in the first few days of the semester, is to make sure your business is handled. Make sure you meet the graduation deadlines Make sure you apply to graduate BEFORE the deadline! Make sure every I is dotted and every T is crossed. Ask questions. Talk to your advisor.

Let’s make this process as smooooooth as possible!

How to Get Back into the Law Student Mindset

Law Student

GUEST BLOG Makenzie Way, 2L at the University of Pennsylvania Law School

Winter break is officially over.

Classes have begun, calendars are beginning to fill. My brain, however, has yet to register that it’s time to re-enter law student mode.

Remember the days when teachers would waste the first days of class reviewing the syllabus? The fast track nature of law school washes away any hope that you’ll spend your first week back on campus simply discussing the course. Instead, law students are immediately faced with hefty reading loads, assignments, and an inbox full of meeting requests.

Allowing your mind and body the time to slowly acclimate to the pressures of law school is not an option, so what are we law students to do?

Law Student

  1. Whip out your agenda

    Begin to schedule in everything you need to do from textbook shopping to course readings. Having concrete tasks and timelines allows you to stay on track.

  2. Adjust your alarms!

    If you’re anything like me it takes you a little while to get back into the habit of jumping right out of bed after winter break. Don’t run the risk that you’ll press snooze and miss your first class, instead, adjust your alarm to an earlier time to give yourself the snooze time while still ensuring you’ll be on time.

  3. A healthy life contributes to increased brain activity (or so science tells us).

    Head to the gym, stock up on healthy food, and drink lots of water to give your brain the fuel it needs to make it through that first week!

  4. Frequent campus if possible.

    It’s easy to take a cat nap or continue binge-watching Netflix if you’re at home in your bed. Just being in a library or on campus can serve as a reality check and bring you back into focus.

  5. Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize!

    The first week back is rough. You have all new classes, readings to complete, board meetings, event meetings, journal assignments, and possibly interviews. Everyone seems to want something from you, and since you may not be functioning at 100% it can be easy to feel overwhelmed. To ensure a smooth start to your semester prioritize your classes, interviews, and pressing group commitments over more routine meetings and events.

How are you getting back into the swing of things? What do you think the biggest challenge about returning from break is? I’d love to hear your input!

Course Correct or Stay the Course, 1L? 3 Questions to Consider.

1L

GUEST BLOG Stephanie Baldwin, 1L at the University of Arizona

Welcome back to the second semester! Congratulations, we are 1/6thof the way to graduation!

The first week of the Spring semester is the perfect time to reevaluate last semester and make changes as needed. Many of you do not have your grades yet, but here is a quick word about that. Grades do not define you.  No matter where you landed, top of your class, or at the bottom, this is a fresh new semester. Regardless of your grades (or based on them), you may choose to stay the course, or to course correct. Here are the top the top three questions to ask yourself to see if a change is needed.

Did you know what your professor was looking for?

1L

It is so easy to forget that law school exams are not just about demonstrating your mastery of the topic, but also demonstrating that mastery in the way your professor wants. Most of the people I spoke to from 2L when they thought back on their 1L exams, said writing the exam in the way the professor wanted was the main thing that really distinguished people who received top grades from each other.

When you are reviewing your exam, as yourself if you answered the question in the way the professor wanted you to. For instance, was the answer suppose to be written for a judge or a teenage client? That should have framed the way you wrote your answer. Another way to really make sure you know what your professor is looking for is to go to office hours frequently. I know it can be intimidating, but if you are not sure what to talk about prepare answers to the questions at the end of the cases you read and ask to review those. That will provide you with good insight into what they are looking for.

The earlier you do this, the more likely you will be able to frame your outline in a way that will help you on the final. Speaking of outlines…

Was your outline structured in a way that helped you?

Think about your outline that you used on test day. How could have it been different that would have benefited you. Maybe you wrote your own outline but it was too comprehensive. Or maybe your attack outline was too brief. Or perhaps you just didn’t have time to study from it appropriately. Once you have your grades back, go get your exam, compare it to the model answers provided and then look at your outline. Make notes of what material would have been helpful on your outline. What could have been phrased in a different way?

What is the one thing you wish you had done more or less of?

This will be different from every student. We all have one thing we wish we had done more or less of. When I spoke to students, many said: “study more.” Though, I encourage you to drill that down more and pick one specific thing. Some wish they had played fewer video games or spent more time reading notes of the cases. On the flip side, others wish they had given themselves a day off, as they spent every minute in the library. Some simply wish they had made more friends or taken a bit more time for themselves at the gym. Whatever it is, as yourself this question and make a plan to implement it.

I hope these three basic questions help you to reevaluate last semester and make the changes to make this semester even better! What is one thing you wish you had done more or less of this past semester? Let me know over at the @The1LLife on Twitter or Instagram.

2019 MPRE Changes Are Coming

The National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) has announced changes to the 2019 Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE). Most notably, an increase in the registration fees and steps to phase in a new computer-based testing format (to be fully transitioned by the March 2020 exam).

If you are a 2L or 3L law student in line for the MPRE this year, it’s important to be mindful of the registration deadlines because you can save some money and also how the computer-based exam format could impact how you experience taking the exam.

NEW REGISTRATION FEES

The 2019 MPRE regular registration fee is now $125 and the late registration fee, $220. By marking your calendar to meet the regular registration deadline, you’ll save $95. And remember that the late registration deadline is only one week later. Here are the registration deadlines and fees for all three administrations of the 2019 MPRE:

COMPUTER-BASED TESTING, RANDOM PARTICIPANTS

For the March 2019 MPRE, students will continue to use the traditional scantron form. For the August 2019 and November 2019 MPRE, up to 5,000 examinees will be randomly selected to take the computer-based exam at a Pearson VUE Center.

You’ll know if you’re one during the online MPRE registration process. All other examinees will take the paper-based exam at an LSAC test center. For more information, visit the NBCE FAQs webpage.

FREE BARBRI MPRE REVIEW, INFOGRAPHIC & BAR EXAM DIGEST

The MPRE is meant to task you with thinking like a lawyer when ethical situations aren’t so clear cut. It’s also a different testing format compared to law school. You’ll need to complete 60 multiple-choice questions in two hours. Get ahead and sign up for the free online BARBRI MPRE Review.

It includes our new MPRE Maximizer, your last-minute quick-study cram packet of legal ethics rules, exceptions and broad topic areas. And you can go back as often as you like to the BARBRI MPRE Review online lectures and practice questions. Reinforce the rules of professional responsibility, the code of judicial conduct and the law of lawyering.

Taking a legal ethics or professional responsibility class in law school won’t guarantee a passing score. That’s why most 2L and 3L students take the free BARBRI MPRE Review. It covers everything about ethics, is highly organized and always current on legal ethics information.

Check out our MPRE passing scores infographic that compares all states/jurisdictions. Download our free, comprehensive BARBRI Bar Exam Digest for all the state-by-state MPRE scoring information you need, all in one convenient place.

2019 MPRE

Extended Bar Prep or 8-Week Bar Review? As a Foreign Attorney, Which Course Should I Take?

Guest Blog by Natalia Urrea
BARBRI International Director

As a foreign-trained attorney or international law graduate considering sitting for a bar exam in the United States —whether or not you have or are completing an LL.M. program in the U.S. ―it will serve you well to strategize your exam preparation.

Successfully passing a U.S. bar exam will signify your understanding of U.S. law, which will be impressive in and of itself. As a U.S. licensed attorney, you will set yourself up well to work in an international firm with international clients and/or will set yourself apart in a competitive job market.

Charting an international course for your career is incredibly smart, and you’re almost there. You just need to find the best bar preparation experience for you.

Factors to Consider

Here are some factors to consider when choosing between the BARBRI Extended U.S. Bar Preparation and the BARBRI Bar Review 8-Week course:

  • How much time do you have to devote to your studies each week? How much flexibility do you need during your course?
  • Have you ever studied the subjects tested on a U.S. bar exam?
  • Do you feel that taking an intensive, timed multiple-choice and essay exam all in English might be especially challenging for you?
  • How much 1:1 support would you like or require during your course?
  • Do you need advice on foreign applications or eligibility?
  • Are you studying for California, Texas, or a U.S. state that utilizes the Uniform Bar Exam (including New York)?

After considering these questions, if you find yourself thinking you might require more time, flexibility and support, then the BARBRI Extended U.S. Bar Preparation might be right for you. Time, flexibility and ongoing support are exactly what the BARBRI Extended U.S. Bar Preparation offers.

Read more in the blog “BARBRI Extended Bar Prep and 8-Week BARBRI Bar Review Courses: What’s the Difference?” or visit www.barbri.com/llm/.

BARBRI Extended Bar Prep and 8-Week BARBRI Bar Review: What’s the Difference?

Guest Blog by Natalia Urrea
BARBRI International Director

As a foreign-trained attorney or international law graduate considering sitting a state bar exam in the United States —whether or not you have or are completing an LL.M. program in the U.S. ―you know you have study options with BARBRI, the world’s largest legal qualification exam prep company. But what is the best option for you?

Let’s find the right one to fit your individual study style and schedule.

What is Included?

First, let’s look at the similarities between the BARBRI Extended U.S. Bar Preparation (over 6- or 10-months) and the BARBRI Bar Review course (over 8-weeks). They both have some powerful, common features and experiences, including:

  • Course work assigned through the online BARBRI Personal Study Plan (PSP) that is focused on what is most likely to be tested on the actual examination.
  • Lectures in substantive law taught by top U.S. law professors that are examination-driven so you get what you need to know in each subject.
  • Full Multistate (MBE) simulation that allows you to do a complete timed exam and submit it to BARBRI for grading. The simulation shows you where you are on the bar exam curve with enough time to modify your study before the actual exam.
  • BARBRI’s MBE Success Learning Path that includes thousands of multiple-choice practice questions.
  • Directed Essay Grading starting with Essay Architect, our exclusive online instruction platform that takes you through a series of steps to learn to critically read bar exam questions, enhance the speed of your essay writing and construct strong, winning answers. Essay Architect provides immediate feedback to build your essay writing skills quickly.
  • Then, we assign a carefully selected series of past bar exam essays and performance tests for grading and feedback from trained bar exam writing experts.

What’s Different?

The major differences between the two BARBRI options involve the amount of time you need to study, the flexibility you need in your preparation, and the 1:1 support you require. For a list of factors to consider, check out the blog “Extended Bar Prep or 8-Week Bar Review? As a Foreign Attorney, Which Course Should I Take?

The Extended Bar Prep is a part-time, home study program designed to accommodate busy professionals and LL.M. graduates with other commitments who are studying for the California or Texas Bar Exam or for a U.S. state that utilizes the Uniform Bar Exam (including New York).

BARBRI Extended U.S. Bar Prep for non-U.S. nationals focuses on exam techniques that international students find difficult to master and on the topics that are most frequently examined. Here’s a closer look:

  • Full bar preparation administered all online over 6 or 10 months; study 20-30 hours per week over a 6-month duration or no more than 15 hours per week over a 10-month duration for maximum weekly flexibility.
  • Focus first on foundational elements of U.S. law tested on the exam to catch up on information that most U.S. law students learn during their J.D. program.
  • Receive a personal 1:1 mentor who is a qualified U.S. attorney to help guide you. Your personal mentor assists with eligibility, your application, course navigation, study strategies, and schedule modifications if needed. They have access to your progress report to help them know where you excel and where you most need additional study.
  • More flexible, weekly PSP. Your PSP is used by your mentor to see your activities and milestones, tailor studies and what lectures you should watch based on your progress, and provide encouraging messages to keep you on track.

Structure, accountability, support and success are what the extended bar prep programs are about. Overall, you will get a deep-dive into heavily tested exam topics in U.S. law and areas of most difficulty for foreign student.

What If I Want to Do the 8-Week Bar Review Course?

We have seen many foreign candidates be successful with the 8-week BARBRI Bar Review Course. The shorter timeline makes it attractive to many who want to take the course directly after their LL.M. program and who want to take the exam as quickly as possible.

The best advice I can give you is to be prepared to start as early as you can with BARBRI Early Start and plan to treat your bar review course like a very intensive, full-time job. Go to a classroom location for lectures if you are able (included at no additional cost in BARBRI Bar Review).

How best to pursue U.S. licensure is really a personal choice. BARBRI understands the unique challenges international students can face in learning American concepts of law. That’s why we provide options, with courses taught by professors who have extensive experience in LL.M. training and qualification exam prep. We are here to help you Own The Bar.

Visit www.barbri.com/llm/ for more information.