Monday

The current (2009) job market.

The Bar Advisor knows that everyone is worried about the job market in 2009 -- the year of our Lord's Slaughter of the Innocent. I wish that I had something inspirational and soothing to say to you, but I do not. This is a tough time. The Bar Advisor has been through some tough times in his life: financial and personal. The best advice I can give is that you should do your best to survive.


It is important for you to pass the bar.

Even if you have some misgivings about wanting to become a lawyer and whether you will be able to find a job as a lawyer when you pass the bar, you must study diligently and pass the bar. Passing the bar will give you yet another option when you are looking for a job to survive the next couple of years.

If you are one of the many people who have become disillusioned by lawyers and the law after attending law school for three years (NOTE: the Bar Advisor knew many people like this at his law school and, from time to time, counts himself among them), then view this financial bloodbath as an opportunity for you to make a change. Few people will question/blame you for not getting a job in this financial climate. You can strike out on your own and do that THING that you always wanted to do.

You may have always dreamed about becoming a lawyer and receiving a nice fat paycheck, but dreams, sometimes, have to adapt to circumstances. Do not be depressed. Do not get down on yourself. This is not your fault. Be proactive. Study hard, pass the bar, and then do something. Maybe you will get a job as a lawyer, maybe you will start a business, maybe you will work at a coffee shop. Whatever it is that you will do, do it well and proudly.

Bar Advisor was a janitor while he was in college. People often treated Bar Advisor poorly when he was a janitor because they thought he was a f*ck-up and a loser who could do no better than to work as a janitor; they did not know that Bar Advisor was on track to graduate cum laude from his undergraduate institution; they did not know that many of the janitors with whom Bar Advisor worked were intelligent people who cared about the world and their families. Do not let what other people think affect you.


Be strong.

Move forward.

Succeed.



For more advice on the current job market (with a special focus on those of you seeking employment with BigLaw), see the blog Hiring Partner's Office.

Wednesday

Free Oregon Bar Exam Outlines

Here are my Oregon bar exam outlines. As with my California bar exam outlines, these outlines are free for your non-commercial use and you can pass them along to others for any non-commercial purpose.

I make no guarantees that anything in these outlines is correct. It is possible that the law has changed, so don't rely on these outlines as your only study resource. These outlines were prepared for the July 2006 Oregon bar exam.

Administrative Law (state and federal)

Civil Procedure (state and federal)

Constitutional Law

Contracts and UCC

Criminal Law

Criminal Procedure

Ethics

Evidence (state and federal)

Federal Taxation

Property

Secured Transactions

Torts

Wills and Trusts


CHECKLISTS

In addition to the full-blown outlines, I am including my "checklists." The checklist is a BarBri idea. You pare down your knowledge into a short (ideally 1 page max) list. Then, during the last couple of week of study, you just review the checklists and fill in all the detail with your memorized information. It is actually a really good method to see how much you truly have memorized. If you are just starting to study, I am sure you can't believe that these meager lists convey any information at all, but I assure you that, if you study well, these lists are all that you will need in the final days before the exam.

Administrative Law Checklist

Agency Checklist

Civil Procedure Checklist


Constitutional Law Checklist

Contacts/UCC Checklist

Corporations Checklist

Criminal Procedure Checklist


Criminal Law Checklist

Ethics Checklist

Evidence Checklist

Federal Taxation Checklist

Property Checklist


Secured Transactions Checklist

Torts Checklist

The last two checklists show a minimilist approach and more more detailed approach. I can't remember which of these checklists I actually used to study for the exam, but I suspect it was the longer version.

Wills and Trusts (long) Checklist

Wills and Trusts (short) Checklist

Saturday

Free California Bar Exam Outlines

These outlines were created for the February 2008 California bar exam.  These PDF versions of my outlines are free for your non-commercial use and you can pass them along to others for any non-commercial purpose. 



If you would prefer newly-updated California bar outlines in easy-to-edit Microsoft Word format, head over to my other site to get more information.




Business Associations

Civil Procedure (state and federal)

Community Property

Constitutional Law

Contracts and UCC

Criminal Law

Criminal Procedure

Evidence (state and federal)

Professional Responsibility

Property

Remedies

Torts

Wills and Trusts


Thursday

Selecting a Bar Preparation Course

GENERAL BAR PREP COURSE

The selection of a bar preparation course is generally fairly easy, especially for someone who has never taken the bar. If you are a first time taker or are taking a bar exam after practicing for an extended period (i.e., at least 5 years), then I recommend BarBri.

BarBri

Although BarBri has a reputation like Microsoft of the mid-1990s, there is no denying that it does a good job of giving you all the information you need to pass the bar exam. The lectures (whether live or on video) provide a good summary of the important bar exam issues and cut through the fear created by looking through the massive outline books BarBri also gives to you. It seems generally true to me that if you can learn/memorize everything that you hear in the BarBri lectures, you will know enough to pass the bar exam.


BarBri also provides you with lots of opportunities to practice essays and get feedback. While the feedback may not be extremely valuable, it does, at the very least, give you a kick in the pants. That is, the first few essays you turn in for review will come back with comments like "what?" and "analysis?" and "incorrect." BarBri also provides you with a study schedule (called the PACE program) so you don't have to worry if you are studying enough or engaging in enough review.
I had two main criticisms of BarBri: 1) the PACE program was overburdensome and 2) the sample MBE (i.e, the multiple choice test) questions weren't very good.

As I discuss in more detail in my post on DILIGENCE, the PACE program essentially demands that, in addition to the 3-4 hours you spend in class, you spend another 5-9 hours studying and reviewing. This is crazy and inhuman. I guess if you are getting ready to work at BigLaw, then you should get used to it. For everyone else, I honestly believe you can quit studying at 5pm every day and can take at least one if not two days off each week. (See, again, my post on Diligence.)

For me, the BarBri MBE questions seemed anemic and the explanations of the answers confusing. It did not seem to test the material very well. I must prefered PMBR (see below). I felt that the people who wrote the questions for BarBri hadn't spent enough time editing them to make sure they made sense. Maybe they were trying to make the questions tricky (as they can be on the actual MBE exam), but the result was making them opaque and nonesensical. Still, I had friends and acquaintances who liked them far better than PMBR and they were successful on the bar exam.

MicroMash

I have heard good things about MicroMash, but have not actually seen the program. My understanding is that MicroMash provides recorded lectures that allow you to study on your own. MicroMash will also allow you to purchase only the review portions that you want. For instance, maybe you are repeating the bar exam and feel that you need another system for MBE preparation. Thus, you can purchase the MicroMash MBE prep only. Finally, MicroMash is more affordable than BarBri and looks to be about half the cost of BarBri. So, if you are paying for your bar prep course with your own money, you might explore MicroMash as an affordable alternative to BarBri.

Local Resources

Other than the massive bar prep mills, you may want to find a local bar prep company that has met with success and has good recommendations from prior enrollees. A fellow associate at my firm took just such a course from a local bar guru in San Diego. The person provided outlines, study techniques, and testing techniques. My colleague recommends this course to anyone who asks. So, check around with alumni from your law school or ask recently minted attorneys if they did something other than BarBri that helped them pass the bar.

MBE-SPECIFIC PREPARATION

PMBR (now called Kaplan)

PMBR is the grand-daddy/800-pound gorilla of MBE-only bar prep. Its massive red and blue books are instantly recognizable by people enrolled in bar review. I loved PMBR when I took the bar for the first time. The questions were very densely written and maddening, but logical. The explanations of the answers were detailed, thorough, and (as far as I could tell) accurate. I figured that if I could succeed on PMBR at a good percentage, then I could do well on the MBE. I will say that compared to the PMBR questions, the questions on the actual test were much more concise and less confusing. Of course, there were still questions I encountered on the real exam that dumbfounded me. I just marked a bubble and moved on. Nevertheless, I think I knew more about the common law thanks to PMBR than I could ever have learned just using the BarBri practice questions. PMBR offers several courses. If your firm is paying for it, you may as well sign up for everything. If you are paying for it, just pay the least amount of money that will get you the questions books and then answer as many questions as possible. My firm paid for everything, so I took the entire course. The six-day pre-BarBri course is essentially useless. All it serves to do is scare the hell out of you and make you think that you are going to fail the bar exam. BarBri or any other prep program can do that, so save your money.

AdaptiBar

When I took the California bar, I had intended just to use the PMBR books again. However, when I attempted to study from the books, I felt a massive depression surge over me and knew that I could not use them. So I began looking around for another prep course. That is when I found Adpatibar.   Check out my video review of Adapitbar below:


(Want to try Adaptibar and save $50 off the regular price? Click here and sign up.)

CONCLUSION

In the end, probably just about any bar prep course will work so long as you diligently study and review. If anyone has taken any courses not mentioned or has a different opinion compared to those expressed above, please post a comment.

 
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