[ By Laureen Fredah, MBA, LLB, Guest Blogger and Middlesex University Law Graduate ]
I have had a very rewarding job for a number of years working with Emirates Airline in Dubai, but I have long been drawn to a career as a lawyer. So when Middlesex University London opened its first overseas campus in Dubai, and became the only university in the United Arab Emirates to offer a common law degree, I jumped at the chance to attend in 2014. I then set my sights on passing the New York State Bar Exam to become more marketable internationally.
It was a fairly straightforward plan, except for the fact that the nature of my work has always required me to travel extensively. It’s not uncommon for me to fly three or four times per week and log some 110 flight-hours per month. Because of my work commitment, I knew I would need help in preparing to undertake something as intense as the U.S. Bar Exam.
The BARBRI team invested great time and effort into explaining the preparation process to me, and what I should know before committing to that process. I sensed BARBRI had a good understanding of the challenges faced by foreign-trained attorneys so I chose to study using their 6-month Extended U.S. Bar Preparation course. I reasoned that the 6-month course would better keep me on my toes than the 10-month course, plus I wanted to qualify as quickly as possible to begin my job search in legal.
Everything required to pass the exam
My reality became one of never having enough time to study, finding the material to be overwhelmingly too much, and dealing with long flights, jet lag and fatigue. Sometimes I would be a week behind the recommended progress on my Personal Study Plan (PSP), but I always made sure to not fall so far behind that I couldn’t catch up as soon as I got some breathing room.
When exam day came, I found the material tested to be familiar because it had been extensively covered by the BARBRI course. This made the exam experience much less challenging and intimidating.
Motivation to keep afloat
Aside from covering all of the material required to pass a United States bar exam, BARBRI provides a one-on-one mentor to every student. This personal mentor is on hand every step of the way to help ensure the student keeps up with the course. The best part is the mentor is a U.S.-qualified lawyer who not only supports and encourages but can also explain areas of the law that may not be easily understood.
Once in a while, I would email my mentor for clarification on a subject I didn’t fully understand. But more often than not, I would reach out if I needed a little pep talk to keep me motivated. Even if I was too busy studying to check-in, my mentor would keep in touch. The fact that she constantly tracked my progress on the PSP reassured me that I wasn’t alone in my exam preparation. Support was always there.
Anything is possible
I am proof that anything is possible when you set your mind to it, and are given the right tools. As an example, I took the New York Law Examination (a prerequisite to admission to practice in the state of New York) while on a flight from Australia back to Dubai. I spent much of the hour-long exam worrying about turbulence and whether it might cut off my internet connection on the aircraft.
In the end, I passed the NYLE and went on to pass the New York Bar Exam in February 2019 with BARBRI’s help. I’m now focused on landing my next career position in the area of Dispute Resolution, Commercial and Corporate Law, or Arbitration. Opportunities are widely available in these areas in Dubai, and it is a great legal center to acquire experience for the day when I decide to take my career international.