Michael J. Green, L’2003 (Florida)
The bar exam is a test of endurance and strategy more than brain power. Surviving three years at Howard University School of Law ensures that each student has the capacity to pass the bar. But it takes preparation, persistence, and patience to get over the bar and become a member of a bar. I started my preparation to pass the bar exam the first time 18 months before I took the exam.
The bar exam is a major investment of time and money. The cost of the bar exam can exceed $5,000. I thoroughly researched the cost of BARBRI, PMBR, and the cost to live during the summer. The summer of the bar is not the time to have financial stress. It is imperative that you do whatever is necessary to pay for your review courses, bar fees, and to have money to cover summer living expenses. Pay for these expenses as early in your law school career as possible, because bar summer will arrive quicker than you can imagine. During my last semester of law school I realized that academics were still important, but I made the decision to secure a job during the semester so that I could have money for the summer.
I thoroughly researched which bar to take. A major factor in choosing the Florida Bar, besides the fact I wanted to practice in the state, was that the majority of the test is multiple-choice. The test is unique in that it only has 3 essay questions in the state portion and they appear only in the first morning of the exam. I always had a preference for multiple-choice, but my point is that it is okay to choose a test strategically, because it only takes passing one bar to be a member of the legal profession. Admittance into other jurisdictions is easier after passing the initial bar exam. Donít feel that you have to take the Maryland Bar as a default bar; consider instead places where you may want to live long term and where you have roots.
The importance of devoting your life to studying during bar summer cannot be overstated. I chose to study only PMBR multiple-choice questions, because in my opinion the questions were much more difficult and the explanations were much more concise. I studied 12-14 hours daily 6 days a week. Because I knew that I was a morning person, I studied from 8 a.m. until 9 p.m. I answered the suggested 50 questions every day without fail. In addition, I found that utilizing the Emmanuel first year flash cards helped me tremendously in subjects that I was weak in, such as Contracts and Property. The flashcards laid a foundation that I found was missing from the BARBRI and PMBR outlines.
It is important to be honest while studying. Do not run from subjects that may seem difficult or refuse to practice writing essays because your answer is different from BARBRIís. If you know that you have a weak area, ask for help. The bar exam is very thorough and the examiners find ways to test almost everything. The 10 weeks of time between the end of law school and the bar exam is more that sufficient to acquire the surface level knowledge necessary to pass the exam. Hammer away at a topic until you have a solid grasp of the material.
Bar summer is not the time to relax, reflect on law school accomplishments, or lose confidence in your abilities. The bar exam does not discriminate based on class rank, institution attended, or IQ. People from all walks can and do pass and fail the bar exam. Find a group of like-minded people who will hold you and each other accountable. I saw the same faces everyday for 10 weeks, and it helped because I knew that we were counting on each other to make it through the fight together. We would not necessarily study in the same room, but we knew where each other was located, and we could keep each other sane and motivated.
Good luck. I look forward to your admission to the Florida Bar.