Study + work: How to successfully do both

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By Hemant Chauhan, BARBRI Legal Advisor

If you are looking to internationalize your legal career as a foreign-trained lawyer or law graduate by pursuing qualification as a U.S. attorney, you’ve made a wise decision. Know that preparing to sit a U.S. Bar Exam doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Although you may grapple with how best to study while working and fulfilling other commitments, options exist that provide both study flexibility plus the opportunity to still have a life. Who would have thought!

As someone who is preparing to sit the New York Bar Exam, I can tell you there is no single path that makes sense for every professional trying to juggle work and study. I can also tell you that the BARBRI Extended U.S. Prep courses are designed to fit your needs for balance, whatever they may be. The programs are geared for non-U.S. nationals and focus on the frequently examined topics that international students find most difficult.

Unless you have studied many of the subjects tested on the exam, or English is your first language, it will likely be rather difficult to make a realistic determination of how and how long to prepare. I offer up the following information and account of my own international journey to help guide you in yours.

Because we are all at a little different stage in our careers and have different commitments, BARBRI Extended U.S. Bar Prep offers the option to study or 6 or 10-months. Those who study over 6-months should plan to dedicate about 20-25 hours per week to learning. It may be best suited to those who can study on a full-time basis and/or who prefer to get qualified more quickly. Those who study over 10-months should plan to dedicate about 10-15 hours per week.

Although the 6-month and the 10-month option offers the same comprehensive curriculum, to pace of the 10-month course is more flexible and less demanding each week. This is why I have personally chosen the 10-month option to study for my bar exam.

Commit accordingly

Here are a few questions to ask yourself to determine the best option for you:

  • How much time will I have (realistically) to devote to my studies each week? How much flexibility will I need during the course?
  • Will taking an intensive, timed multiple-choice and essay exam all in English be challenging for me?
  • How much support will I likely need during the course?
  • Will I study for a U.S. state exam in California or Texas, or one that utilizes the Uniform Bar Exam (such as New York)?

If you find yourself thinking you will need a good amount of time, flexibility, and support during your studies, then BARBRI Extended U.S. Bar Prep may be right for you. Careful planning, discipline, and time management will all be important factors when fitting in study around employment. By adopting a methodical approach to studying and committing from the outset, you will become more efficient at juggling your many commitments and put yourself in the best position to pass the bar exam.

Use your resources wisely

I’ll be the first to admit that workplace deadlines and distractions, the general demands of a full day on the job, and the commute home have taken a toll on my study plans at times. Studying over 10-months allows me more time to engage with the materials. The flexible, intuitive Personal Study Plan (PSP) allows me to study anywhere, at any time. During my morning and evening commutes, I listen to substantive law lectures delivered by top U.S. law professors on the BARBRI app, and review the available handouts and outlines. I primarily use the multiple-choice practice questions to study on the weekends.

I fully utilize the resources at my disposal with BARBRI Extended U.S. Bar Prep, including my personally assigned 1:1 mentor. My U.S.-qualified mentor is very supportive and experienced. She knows what it takes to pass the bar exam, and she has helped me when I’ve struggled on subjects and study techniques. I feel confident in my quest to pass the New York Bar Exam.

Best of luck to you as you commit to a course and prepare to become an amazing international attorney!

Interested in learning more? Check out BARBRI bar prep course options.

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