Recently I have had quite a few enquiries regarding my New York Bar qualification. It would appear that a number of aspiring young lawyers in England are looking to pop over and qualify in the US. I would of course highly recommend any lawyer to obtain dual qualification if they are in the position to be able to.
It was never in fact in my long term plan to qualify in New York, I just so happened to be lucky enough to stumble upon the opportunity. Unlike the law students of today, I was not savvy enough in my day to think beyond the LPC or training contract at any given time.
Before even submitting your application to sit the Bar Exams you first need to check your eligibility. Unless things have changed since I did the NY Bar, you had to be fully qualified in England and have an element of practice experience, including advocacy. So for those of you thinking about completing your law degree here and then going over to NY to do the Bar, think again, you will need to have completed your training contract, or had a level of practice experience that satisfies the NY Bar Board.
Then you submit your application to sit the Bar Exam and do all the housekeeping stuff related to where you will sit the Exam itself. After that, it’s up to you, you can do a Bar Review course or you can go it alone. I have to meet somebody who has gone it alone. I did Pieper Bar Review (I still have the books, I glance at them every time I wanted to be reminded of the achievement) and would recommend it to anyone considering it. I attended every live lecture from November up until exam time in February. You sit and write (or tap) incessantly for 5 hours each day. You go home exhausted, you wake up the next day, prep for the next lecture and go to class again and you repeat this process for 10 weeks solid.
The Bar Exam itself consists of 4 papers over two days. Day 1 is the New York specific part of the examination process consisting of a combination of essays and MCQs. Day 2 is the Multistate papers, these papers are sat by every candidate in every US state. They form two three hour papers of MCQs.
My experience is that the Bar Exam itself is not hard or complex, if you’ve got through a law degree then content wise you will not struggle too much, it is the sheer volume of stuff that you need to learn in order to be able to take the exam that cripples you ultimately. You need to be incredibly organised, you need to give up your life for 12 – 14 weeks while you do the review course and prep for the exam.
The best bit…..months later getting the email saying you have passed and being able to go online and see you name on the New York Bar website as a candidate that passed…I checked my name online more than once!