Fall Break = Self-care Time

Self Care

[ Stephanie Baldwin, 2L at the University of Arizona ]

When I was a 1L, Fall break was a relief. I had just taken 3 midterms, and was exhausted like the rest of my fellow 1Ls! After I darted off to Vegas for a friend’s wedding, then traveled to the east coast for a baby shower. I remember also having to work on my memo because a first draft was due when we got back to school. While it was fun to see my friends, I didn’t really get a “break.”

This year, I am on fall break right now, and I took a completely different approach. I stayed home. Boring, I know, but it was what I needed. I also had a few summer and spring employment events to attend, so staying home was ideal, so I didn’t miss those.  But to be honest, I still would have stayed home!

Last year was too much between traveling, airport delays, and schoolwork for me to really relax, and since today is World Mental Health Day (October 10), I wanted to share my Fall break self-care tips.

Check-in with yourself!

No seriously. This seems like something obvious to do, but it’s surprising how often we ignore what is going around us or put things off that should be a personal priority. Ask yourself, what do I need right now at this moment? Today? This week? For me, school-related issues always come to mind first, then work, then family and friends, and then last, me. But fall break is a great time to put your needs first.

For example, before the semester started, I had started making plans for fall break, but then I remembered what I felt like last year, and I told everyone I would have to see what the midterms schedule would look like. Then as I thought about it more, I realized I would need some serious downtime.  Even though it would have been a ton of fun to visit Florida with friends, I would have been exhausted. I put “me” first, and while my friends were disappointed not to have me join them, they were 100% supportive. They even included me in their adventures through Facetime and Snapchat. It was fun to watch their adventures… from my couch!

Catch Up With Non-Law School Friends

I wasn’t completely self-sequestered during fall break. I also took the time to reach out to my non-law school friends to meet up for brunch, breakfast, and happy hours. During the school year, I find myself playing phone tag with many of my friends, so I made it a priority to connect with them this week, even if it was just by phone. It is always good to have a reminder of your “previous” life. Fall break is the perfect time to reconnect!

Take Time To Breathe!

Take Time to Breathe!

During each day, this could be something as simple as using the “Breathe” app on your apple watch, or if you don’t have a similar watch, just do the 4 – 7 – 8 breathing method. This is when you inhale for 4 seconds, hold it for 7 seconds, and then breathe out for 8 seconds. Doing this helps lower your stress levels and can help you focus. Making a point to do this each day during fall break, can help make this become a habit, and can help during those stressful days at school. Check out this article from the Mayo Clinic about how breath can help you de-stress!

Change your Scenery

For some, fall break can be the perfect time to getaway. I loved watching my law school friends adventures in Hollywood, Sedona, Hong Kong, Paris, and New York… again from my couch. A change of scenery doesn’t mean you have to go far. It’s a great time to go for a hike, a day trip, or even a great drive. For me, I love driving, I love stargazing, and this week there were two meteor showers.  I could have taken a trip to Sedona or Flagstaff or even back down to Tucson, but I know of this perfect little place in Phoenix that has great views of the night sky. I drove there one night to catch the showers. It was perfect, and 100% relaxing!

Stars at night in Arizona

Start New Habits

Fall break is also a great time to put some new habits into place. I hate cooking. There I said it. However, this Fall break, I made it a goal to learn how to cook 3 new things that would be easy to make while I was down at school. It was simple, but this week gave me some time to experiment, and it was fun finding recipes I liked that I could master.

I think the big thing is that self-care doesn’t have to take a lot of time, and all of these things can be done during the school week. Fall break just provides a wonderful opportunity to focus on self-care!

What are your favorite self-care tips? Let me know over @The2LLife on Twitter or Instagram.

FOMO: Knowing When To Say No


[ Stephanie Baldwin, 2L at the University of Arizona ]

FOMO Law Student Style

I think, as law students, we can suffer from a unique form of FOMO(osa)… the fear of missing out (on school-related activities). Unlike in the past where our FOMO might have been about social events, now, at least for me it has a focus on law school-related events, with a special emphasis on those special “gold star” law school opportunities like journal, moot & trial court, clinics, and similar activities.

We know that these activities are important for our resume building, in fact sometimes essential, depending on the sector we want to work in after graduation. Plus, we know how difficult it can be to earn these special “gold star” opportunities. For this reason, I think it can be unthinkable to turn down any of these opportunities. But sometimes we need to, and this is one of those moments for me.

As I talked to some of my fellow 2Ls, we talked about how difficult it was to navigate these decisions and how it could feel like a huge mistake if we didn’t say yes to every opportunity presented. The truth is, sometimes we need to say no. Here are some tips to help you navigate these experiences.

First, Be Honest With Yourself

Here, I was pretty sure I needed to say no. Not because I couldn’t take on the challenge, but just because it would be too much. But, as a first-generation student, I did not want to say “no” without realizing what I was saying no to. Does that make sense?

To be honest, this was a big step for me. I think it is hard to admit when you do not know something, which is why seeking advice is important. Then beyond that, you have to be really honest with yourself about when you can and cannot take on more in a very objective way.

I did not know the “ranking” or importance of my competing activities, so it was essential that I reached out for help, to make sure I did not make a naive misstep.


Next, Reach Out to Those Who Have Been There Before

If you are struggling and are not sure which opportunities to say yes to or decline, turn to your trusted allies. I am a first-generation law student, so there is no one in my family I can turn to for law school advice. Beyond that, I do not even have any family friends who are lawyers. So, for me, this is why creating relationships at my school and within my legal community have been essential, and likely why I blog about it so much.

As soon as I was offered this opportunity, I was immediately torn. I want to do it, I knew the prestige attached to the activity. But the sacrifice and potential impact on my other activities would have been substantial. While I am usually a person who is always willing to rise to the occasion, this time, I realized that this might be something I couldn’t problem-solve my way out of.

I reached out to two professors, my bar association mentor, and my career advisor (who is an alumnus who had experience with what I was contemplating). I sent them a detailed letter about the pros and cons and asked for their advice. All of them were happy to respond and provided phenomenal advice. They also all commented that they could tell I already knew the answer. Which was to decline.

Saying No

Saying No, May Open Other Opportunities

It is SO easy to become overextended in 2L, plus for me, I think saying “no” is hard in general. Add in the fact that you know you may be turning down an amazing opportunity. Or something you are really interested in, it makes saying “no” even harder.

I think that it is also difficult to recognize that as a law student, we do have limits. But I think learning to say “no” is a part of our professional development and something we have to learn. It’s great to participate in activities, but we have to understand the “cost” of participation. I recognize that saying no to this opportunity at school will have its costs. But I also know by saying no, I am opening up the possibility of other doors that could lead to permanent things outside of school. Plus… there is always 3L and I think that can be easy to forget! As one of my wise professors said: “give each opportunity its own full moment!”

Have you had a similar FOMO struggle? Let me know over @The2LLife.

Advocating for the Use of Supplements

Stephanie Baldwin, 2L at the University of Arizona

Last year, I wrote about the different type of supplements that are available to law students. This year I want to talk about how you can use them effectively. Last week the 1LLife wrote a great article about one of the supplements I have previously talked about, the 1L Mastery Package. Like many other 1Ls nationwide who watched Professor Freer (who presents Civil Procedure in the 1L Mastery series), I must give credit for him contributing to my understanding of the subject. My only regret is I didn’t watch him sooner, as it would have helped me with class so much! My professor was amazing, but I always felt a little behind because I was trying to both learn and understand her takeaways at the same time, and I could have used supplements to have avoided that, which leads to my first tip…

Use of Supplements Before You start the Topic in Class.

One of the arguments against supplements is that they are different from what or how the professor might teach. This can be true, however, having a different perspective can be helpful, and the black letter law or rule itself rarely changes from how each professor discusses it. My greatest regret is not watching the 1L Mastery series as classes were going (rather than before finals), as I felt it would have made me better prepared for class.

This year I am using the 2L/3L Mastery series in addition to my textbook to help me better understand my subjects, including Evidence. I am lucky enough to be taught my Professor Mauet, who very likely wrote your evidence book. He is regarded as one of the national experts on the topic and is an amazing professor, but I am still watching the BARBRI videos before class. I am doing this because it allows me to have a good grasp of the material before he presents the topic. It allows class to almost be like a review session, and I focus exclusively on HOW he presents that material rather than WHAT he is presenting. In other words, I can take my general understanding, and tailor it to the way he wants me to understand the subject or rule.

The Reading Portion

The same can be said for reading the portion of the supplement that is relevant to class before going to that lecture. Just like the videos, a written supplement will help to clarify what you have read from the textbook, allow you to focus on what matters, and then listen differently in class. I think that was a big thing that I didn’t grasp well in my first semester, I was listening to learn rather than listening to understand what my professor wanted me to take away from the lecture. Grasping this in second semester is a big reason why my grades improved.

Use the Supplement to improve your outline.

Some supplements include outlines or have recommended checklists. Modify these and create your own based upon how your professor teaches. Again, this is something I did not figure out until my second semester of 1L. Something I underutilized during my finals was the use of an “attack” outline. In many cases, this is a checklist to help you hit all of the bullet points on your essays. Using an example from a supplement, really helped me understand how to create these for my classes.

Do not let myths about using supplements get into your head

One of the best students I know actually recommended this topic for a blog because of all of the negative things he has heard said about the use of supplements. Namely, that only “bad” students need to use supplements. I can tell you that is simply not true. Most of the top students I spoke to recommended supplements to me last year, and they said they were “key” to their understanding. I think it is important to remember that they are just supplements, in other words, they can help you understand, but just supplement your efforts. You still need to go to class and engage with your professor, but supplements can elevate your understanding of a topic and help you excel in class.

What are some of your favorite supplements? Let me know over at the @The2LLife on Instagram or Twitter.

Studies Show BARBRI Students Score More Points On The Bar Exam For A Similar Amount Of Effort

The bar exam is arguably the most important and most difficult test of your life. Nobody wants to fail. Everybody wants to walk in to the exam with the confidence that they are going to pass, the first time. BARBRI students are best equipped to perform at the highest levels on exam day.

In all of the studies conducted by our BARBRI team of data scientists, at schools across the United States, it was clear. For similar course completion rates, BARBRI students achieved a higher average score on the bar exam than students using other bar prep courses.

It’s a significant differential. For example, in one study, the non-BARBRI student group cleared the pass line by six points on average. The BARBRI students scored 31 points above the passing mark. That’s 5x the cushion for a similar amount of effort.

On a test where most people who fail do so by just a few points, how thin a margin is worth the risk?


Our in-house data scientists have analyzed four years of BARBRI student data and continue to work closely with law schools nationwide. Among the tens of thousands of data points gathered, they spotted an eye-opening pattern: BARBRI students scored more points on the bar exam compared to non-BARBRI students for a similar amount of study effort.

This means you do study smarter, not harder, with BARBRI. In fact, all activities assigned to you during BARBRI Bar Review, through the powerful ISAAC engine that runs the course, are positively correlated to increased points on the bar exam and, ultimately, bar passage. To  read more about that, click here.

BARBRI students are better prepared among all bar takers and walk into exam day with far greater confidence to pass the bar.


Here is a closer look at one study we conducted in summer 2018. First, we see that a greater percentage of assignments completed, within any bar prep course, will generally correlate to a higher average bar exam score. It’s pretty obvious.

In the chart below, all the blue dots are BARBRI students and the dotted line represents the relationship between bar review course completion and final bar exam score. The dotted line slopes upward, which means the higher percentage of BARBRI course completion, the better students do on the bar exam. Simple enough.

When we look at the group of bar takers who did not study with BARBRI, we see a similar upward trajectory.

When we combine both BARBRI and non-BARBRI student scores within the graph, it reveals the true BARBRI advantage – BARBRI students score more points for the same amount of effort and percentage of the course completed as non-BARBRI students.


Now think about the bar exam curve. Generally, when you hear of someone failing the bar, many do so by 10 or fewer points. Wouldn’t you rather go in with the confidence of knowing you’re going to get the most points possible and give yourself the best chance possible?

Another reason why the majority of graduating law students, every year, go with BARBRI to Own The Bar.

Driven By Data: What To Expect During BARBRI Bar Review

At BARBRI, data drives everything we do, and we are guided by one principle: It’s not about pass rates. It’s about passing.

As in YOU passing YOUR bar exam.

There are three overarching ways we keep YOUR INDIVIDUAL SUCCESS front and center:

  • We focus your attention on the material you are most likely to actually see on your bar exam
  • We adjust your schedule based on your strengths and weaknesses as you progress
  • We present content in the best way to maximize learning and retention


During BARBRI Bar Review, everything assigned in your online Personal Study Plan (or “PSP”) is carefully curated by an engine we call ISAAC, your Intuitive Study Assistant And Coach.

ISAAC combines proprietary algorithms with our 50+ years of bar exam data and expertise to drive your BARBRI course.

ISAAC keeps you on track, effectively scaffolding your knowledge and skills. It’s meant to motivate and keep you accountable. Remember, generally the higher the percent of course completion, the higher the average bar exam score.


During this BARBRI Bar Review course, ISAAC assigned more than 7.5 million learning activities. That sounds like a lot, but don’t worry, that’s not any individual student – that covers the tens of thousands of students studying for that bar exam with BARBRI. Let’s dig into the data.

Check out the chart below and see, on average, you’ll spend about 24% of your total bar review course study time learning the law with lectures. About 30% of your time working multiple-choice practice questions. And about 19% of your time in our Directed Essay Grading process (Essay Architect, Practice Essays and Graded Essays). Most importantly, each of these align with the top activities correlated to increased points on the bar exam and, ultimately, bar passage.

That’s interesting, yet it’s not just about the type of assignments you do, but also the sequence and timing in which you do them. The chart below shows how the assignment types will progress and change during your bar review course.

Notice the yellow line – early on in the course, you’ll spend the majority of your time with lectures, acquiring knowledge from the best U.S. law professors and legal experts.

Then, you see from the teal and dark blue lines, you are reading and reviewing your notes and also start to ramp up on multiple-choice learning and practice questions.

Two peach peaks stand out – that’s for the BARBRI Simulated MBE (which by the way is as correlated to the real MBE as the PSAT is to the SAT, and it is the single best way to know where you are on the curve before sitting for the exam. Don’t miss the opportunity to experience the Simulated MBE).

Then notice the light blue and pink lines later a few weeks into the course, which indicates movement into our Directed Essay Grading process and practice essays.

None of your precious study time is wasted on activities that won’t help you maximize your point potential on the bar exam. To see how it all works together, check out this 5-minute video: Meet the BARBRI Course.

All this is why, year after year, the vast majority of graduating law students choose BARBRI Bar Review to Own The Bar.

About 9 Out of 10 Average BARBRI Students Pass the Bar … But We Don’t Care and Neither Should You

It’s easy to get caught up in state bar exam pass rates when considering your bar prep options. The reality is that about 9 out of 10 BARBRI students who do the average amount of work in our course pass the bar. That’s impressive … but we don’t care, and neither should you. Don’t put too much stock in a pass rate – BARBRI’s or anyone else’s. That is not a good indication of how YOU will actually perform on the bar exam.

What you really need to understand are the bar prep activities that are most important, and what YOU need to do, to get your highest bar score possible and pass the bar.


Let’s start where our in-house data scientists did – combing through four years of BARBRI data and working with law schools nationwide to uncover what truly drives bar passage.

BARBRI data scientists researched all activities completed by tens of thousands of BARBRI students, segmenting by UBE /non-UBE states and looking state-by-state to determine the activities and experiences that are more or less important to bar passage. We also looked at the effects of studying overall with BARBRI vs. other courses and you can get that information here.


The great news is that all activities that were assigned by ISAAC in the BARBRI Personal Study Plan are positively correlated to increased points on the bar exam and, ultimately, bar passage.

Some assignments have an even greater impact. These are a darker shade of gray, which means they have an even higher correlation to bar passage.

The data scientists have found the BARBRI Simulated MBE to be one of the most powerful and statistically significant experiences one can have in preparing to pass the bar exam.

In fact, the BARBRI Simulated MBE is as correlated to the actual MBE as the PSAT is to the SAT. There are many reasons why an individual preparing to pass the bar exam should not miss out on the BARBRI Simulated MBE. Check out this blog to learn more.

One more important note: It’s not just about the type of assignments you do, but also the sequence and timing in which you do them. ISAAC, the engine that runs the BARBRI course, takes all of this into consideration as it drives your Personal Study Plan.

We want to ensure you focus exactly where you need to get the most points possible on your bar exam. That’s a measure of success you can trust with a great deal of confidence. It’s also a compelling reason why the majority of graduating law students, every year, go with BARBRI to Own The Bar.

Understanding Graduation Requirements

graduation requirements

Stephanie Baldwin, 2L at the University of Arizona

Graduation Requirements?

Do you know what your graduation requirements are? I know it seems ridiculously early to be concerned with this. We are just first semester 2Ls after all, but I’ve got plans! When I told a few people about this weeks blog topic, they mostly fell into two categories. Either they were like OMG I need to do this too, or they said I was giving them anxiety just thinking about it.

If you fall into the second category, I’m sorry… but perhaps it is better to glance at these now, then to realize that you can’t do something you want to in the future, because of something you did in 2L. I recommend visiting your Registrar or your school website to glance at your graduation requirements, this way you at least know what is ahead! For me, like I said I have big plans… or would at least like the option of big plans! Maybe you also have similar goals. Here are mine!

Goal 1: Be February Bar Eligible

First off, I’m not sure if I want to take the February Bar, but I might want to. I realized this past week if I wanted that to be a possibility, I had to make some changes and fast! Arizona allows students to take the February Bar if we need 10 credits or less in our final semester to graduate. I’m not a fan of summer school, so I needed to see if I could do this without it. It turns out I could, but the February Bar requirements were not my only problem…

This semester I originally took many practical classes. I have pre-trial litigation, ICN (Interviewing, Counseling & Negotiations), a 38(d) Criminal Prosecution clinic, Evidence, PR (professional responsibility), plus a seminar. Essentially, I have 18 credits, but only 10 are for grades. At my school, you must have 37 credits grades after 1L, with 88 credits total, and 64 of those most come from classroom instruction, so my journal and externships do not count. This meant I was in a jam. However, with a few minor changes, I was able to set myself up to be on track to hit all of my potential goals.

Graduation Requirements

Goal 2: Study Abroad

Yes, I know this seems crazy, but I have heard so many wonderful things about doing a study abroad program, especially in law school. I know I want to have this as an option, and ideally, while most 3Ls do this in their Spring semesters for me, I would love to do this in the Fall of 3L. Like I said at my school, we have well-defined graduation requirements, and I wasn’t sure how a study abroad would factor into the 37 of graded hours requirement.

It turns out that the classes convert to pass/fail, but the school reduces the amount of graded credit required so you can still meet this requirement.  The other fabulous thing is my scholarship will cover specific study abroad programs! I also found out that study abroad credits would count as classroom instruction, so I also get to count those towards the 64! If you want to do a study abroad, check on the deadlines to decide, for me, I have to put a deposit down by March.

Goal 3: Participate in an Externship Program away from school

Many schools have established programs in DC, Los Angeles, Silicon Valley, and more. You can also set these up on your own by finding externships and taking online classes. At my school, for the first time, we will have an established externship program in Phoenix. This means we will take in-person classes in Phoenix and then work for a Phoenix-based employer as well. These classes are taught by Arizona Supreme Court Justices, renowned experts in their field, and more which is fantastic. But these are specialized legal topics, rather than doctrinal subjects. We also have the option of having them be graded or pass-fail. Because I have a place in Phoenix, I want to do this program twice, so I needed to make sure I could do that and complete some or all of my other goals.

The good news? I figured it all out.

I am admittedly an Excel nerd. My friends laugh when I tell them that spreadsheets calm me down, but it is true. I created a spreadsheet that laid everything out for me, and I did have to make some changes to this semester’s classes to make sure I used my credits efficiently. This semester I am still taking 18 credits (10 graded), and 18 credits next semester with 12-16 graded credits). This leaves me with 20 credits required to graduate, with 11 – 15 graded credits required over 3L. Woo hoo! Who knows if I will do all of these goals or just some of them, it depends… yep, I said it. IT DEPENDS!!!

Have you already taken a look at your requirements? Do you want a copy of my spreadsheet? If so send me a message @The2LLife on Instagram or Twitter!

1L Mastery Package Continues To Carry Over | 3L Student Success Story

by Aaron Feld
University of Illinois College of Law | Class of 2020

Aaron Feld, 3L at University of Illinois Law (Class of 2020) | Using what worked with the 1L Mastery Package, I've implemented an effective study strategy. I’m now in my 3L year of law school and I’m totally ready. I just completed a summer of working in a Chicago-based law firm and plan to go full-time with the firm once I graduate from the University of Illinois College of Law in Champaign. My focus will be in the area of Corporate Law with an emphasis in Sports and Sports Facilities. It’s a career path I’m greatly looking forward to. I largely have BARBRI to thank for preparing me.

Right from the start, BARBRI was captivating

I was introduced to BARBRI Bar Review in 2017, when I attended a video demonstration by the BARBRI student representative at the University of Illinois. It was a captivating presentation, and I went on to study using the BARBRI 1L Mastery Package.

It’s an in-depth suite of 1L success resources that includes detailed course outlines and on-demand video lectures paired with ample multiple-choice and essay practice questions.

Online lectures, outlines and practice exams did the trick

I mainly used the BARBRI 1L Mastery Package materials for three classes: Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, and Torts. The materials provided a good foundation of each course, especially to bring me clarity in Constitutional Law. I listened to the online lectures prior to studying and creating outlines to learn key principles. The 1L Mastery lecturers were fantastic. And if I didn’t understand a specific topic, I would find a related lecture and listen to it again and again until I grasped it. I could speed up the videos to save time and hone in on just what I needed. This served particularly useful in learning the rules of Civil Procedure.

When it came time to study Torts, BARBRI’s practice exams did the trick. The practice questions were well laid out and exams covered both issue-spotting and multiple-choice analysis. Even the low-hanging fruit, those topics that can often be overlooked during studies, was accounted for.

What I learned my first year in law school, was that there was no set strategy for how things should be done as a 1L. You must first establish what you don’t know, and then figure out how to best learn. BARBRI allows you to be creative in your studies and the scope. You can speed up the video lectures, just read the course book from cover to cover, or work through tons of practice exam questions. All of the 1L success resources are there for you to use in a way that’s right for you.

Using BARBRI study aids as a 1L continues to carry over

Although the results from my July 2019 sitting of the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) are not yet posted, I am confident that the free BARBRI MPRE Review prepared me for success on the exam. Everything was online and very convenient. The chapter summaries were compact and the practice exams were helpful in applying the information on the actual exam. Best of all, I was able to implement my own study strategy based on what had worked during my time with the BARBRI 1L Mastery Package materials.

Passing With BARBRI (Twice!) | Tax Attorney Success Story

by Alexandra Zaunbrecher
Senior Associate | Mergers and Acquisitions Tax Group | KMPG US

Passing the bar exam twice as nice for taxation attorney Alexandra ZaunbrecherI chose to sit the Louisiana State Bar Exam right out of law school. Being a Louisiana native and having attended Louisiana State University for my undergraduate and law degree, I thought I would most likely practice within my home state. I also focused the majority of my studies in Louisiana law during my time at LSU. I felt like I had a head start on the Louisiana bar material.

Despite my coursework during law school, the BARBRI Bar Review course best prepared me to take the bar. Before the course, I was most worried about being able to get my hands on the right information. And then sift through it in a way that I could learn what was important for the bar.

Passing with BARBRI, which did all the legwork

My Personal Study Plan, or PSP, was intuitive. It picked up on what I already knew, as well as where I needed to focus more of my time. I simply had to concentrate on managing my time to follow the study plan laid out for me.

After passing with BARBRI on the Louisiana Bar Exam, I was ready to conquer the world. Or at least New York City. I spent a year in the northeast while I pursued my LL.M. degree in taxation from New York University School of Law, specializing in tax law. I was interested in the transactional side of business law and I wanted to position myself as far away from the inside of a courtroom as possible.

Needless to say, I was ecstatic when I was offered an associate position with KPMG in their Mergers and Acquisitions Tax Group in Dallas, Texas. Working in an accounting firm is more of a consulting role, so I’m not required to be barred in Texas. I advise and consult with a variety of companies and law firms around the world on different transactions and their tax consequences. However, I wanted to be able to take full advantage of my law degree in the state in which I lived and still have options within my career. So I decided to sit the Texas Bar Exam.

I turned to BARBRI without question for my bar exam prep

I didn’t need to make use of any other resources beyond the BARBRI PSP. The PSP fully covered each bar topic with enough breadth for me to feel comfortable not seeking out other materials. And with enough depth that I felt like I fully understood each topic. I loved being able to follow a study plan that I knew was “tried and true.” All that was required of me was to soak up the material that was put in front of me.

3-for-3 Passing The Bar | Military Spouse Attorney Success Story

by C. Thea Pitzen
Attorney & Principal | Goodman Allen Donnelly

Life as a military spouse attorney isn’t always a straight line. I can personally attest to that, especially after taking three state bar exams and passing all three, the first time, using BARBRI Bar Review.

Attorney C. Thea Pitzen goes 3-for-3 on bar exams with BARBRI bar exam prep From Georgia … to Florida … to Virginia

My journey began at Emory Law in Atlanta, where I graduated in spring 2009. I signed up for BARBRI during my 3L year to prepare for the summer Georgia Bar Exam (having Emory Professor Rich Freer on the BARBRI faculty was a big draw for me).

I successfully passed and was sworn in to the Georgia Bar. Then a couple of months later, found myself engaged (happily, of course!). My future husband was active-duty Navy and stationed in Florida, while I was still living and working in Atlanta. Bonus points for me, I would have to retake the whole bar exam again. Unfortunately, there was no reciprocity moving from Georgia to Florida.

Now during my bar exam prep for the Georgia exam, I had studied much of the time at Emory Law, going to physical classroom locations to view BARBRI lectures. Less than a year later, I chose to use the online-only BARBRI Bar Review for Florida. I needed to be able to watch lectures on my computer because I was still clerking for a federal judge full-time in Georgia. By and large, when I got off work, I’d view a lecture in the evening to stay on pace. About six weeks before taking the summer 2010 Florida Bar Exam, I got married and then went on to pass my second state bar. Two-for-two so far.

A few years later, we found out that the Navy would be reassigning us to Virginia. And you guessed it. I had to take the entire bar exam once more. With work and a small child as new addition to the family, I went online-only again with BARBRI bar exam prep for Virginia and passed the February 2016 exam.

BARBRI hasn’t failed me yet in passing the bar

As an active member of the Military Spouse JD Network, I know first-hand just how many of us take the bar exam multiple times, traveling with a service member spouse from duty station to duty station. In our online forums, quite frequently there is discussion about bar exam licensing issues and which bar exam prep course to use. We’re fully aware of the choices. For some (whether military spouses or not), cost is a factor and they’ll go with the cheapest program. For me, the simplest answer is that BARBRI hasn’t failed me yet.

100% online bar exam prep was a huge convenience

There is a degree of comfort and familiarity in the BARBRI process. One of the benefits of doing BARBRI bar exam prep on-site is the solidarity aspect of it. There were so many of my classmates from Emory Law in the room, as well as others from the Atlanta area. Everyone was going through the same stress, working toward achieving the same goal. This helped immensely that first go-round with the Georgia Bar Exam. Being able to then switch to the online BARBRI Bar Review format for the Florida and Virginia Bar Exams was a huge convenience, particularly with having a job, a family and greater demands on my time overall. The lectures still felt engaging with the same top caliber of instructors delivering the content.

I always found that if you could study with discipline on the BARBRI materials, and reach a percentile ranking high enough on the BARBRI Simulated MBE subjects, you will pass the bar exam. The BARBRI course is rigorous. The way the MBE questions are set up and the depth of essay feedback you receive, which can be brutal at times, will position you to succeed.

BARBRI practice questions are shockingly accurate

BARBRI is spot-on in its MBE practice questions and practice essays. It’s shockingly accurate. This speaks to BARBRI’s experience and longevity. On the MBE – and I can speak to three administrations  in three different states – BARBRI has clearly figured out what the bar exam questions look like and the patterns you’ll encounter. It’s a successful formula they’ve hit on.

You spend a lot of money taking the bar exam – all the admission requirements, the travel, and other fees add up. It’s wise to spend your hard-earned money on a course that gives you the utmost confidence in passing the bar. BARBRI has done it three times for me. I don’t know why I would not continue to use them.