Believe it or not, the second year of law school is when you should begin researching early bar exam requirements.
If you’re a 2L student reading this blog, yes, that means pretty much now. It’s not too early to get moving on this process. Depending on the state/jurisdiction in which you plan to take the bar, you may encounter specific instructions, special fees and other details that will require plenty of advanced planning and work on your part. The goal is to avoid pitfalls later, when you really don’t want any surprises.
Download the free BARBRI Bar Exam Digest, which has all the information you need to know for every state and jurisdiction, including the UBE.
BE AWARE OF THE STEPS, SAVE YOURSELF MONEY
The bar admission requirements are just that — requirements — and certain ones come with a fee. Pay close attention. Make sure you are fully aware of those requirements and their deadlines. You may have something to do during 2L year.
Ohio is a good example. Your Application to Register as a Candidate for Admission to the Practice of Law (fondly known as Character and Fitness) is due by November 15th of your second year of law school. That second year requirement applies regardless if you are on a three-, four- or five-year plan. It’s a 30-page application that wants to know everywhere you have lived since the age of 18. Seriously.
Another example: In Florida, there’s an even earlier deadline. It allows (and encourages) you to sign up your first year of law school. In fact, the earlier you sign up for the Florida bar exam, the lower your overall fee.
REALIZE THIS IS NOT A QUICK AND EASY PROCESS
Even if you’re going to a state where you don’t have to file your bar exam application until the third year of law school, this is not something you can do in one night. Or even over the course of a week. You will likely have to do some significant digging into your personal, financial and work histories. Remember that traffic ticket you got in the middle of nowhere driving home from college your second year? You are going to have to hunt down the docket for it to include with your application. That’s only part of it. You may have to get forms notarized and references to provide letters of recommendation.
Here’s a helpful Bar Admission Checklist that will give you a general overview of what to expect.
PREPARE TO MOVE FAST, TIME MAY BE LIMITED
Some states have a limited timeline established for you to file your bar exam application. In New York, for example, the application filing period is only one month. No extensions. Late applications are not accepted. The last thing you want is to wait another six months to take the bar because you missed a deadline. As a 2L student now, you can see these coming with more than enough time to gather and do everything you need on schedule.
KNOW THE TOPICS TESTED, TAKE THOSE COURSES
By checking bar exam requirements (going into fall semester of 2L year or sooner), you get to see what’s tested on that exam and then plan your course schedule accordingly. If you’re bar exam state tests Commercial Law and Secured Transactions, consider taking those classes in law school. Give yourself every advantage, early and often.
As with so many things related to law school, taking time to stay informed has its rewards.