I hinted before
that I did not have the chance to study like I intended for the Texas Bar Exam. The thought of withdrawing actually did cross my mind, BUT, I knew I could still attend the exam administration. Now that I know my overall and MBE scaled scores, I have to conclude that being able to type the MPT and Texas essays (accounting for half the score
) really made a difference when I was otherwise underprepared.
"How can a Texas law school graduate be underprepared for the Texas Bar Exam?" you might ask. Well, different law schools have different requirements for upper-level courses that are not necessarily related to their ABA accreditation. At UHLC, Business Organizations (Associations) and Evidence are highly recommended electives, but NOT required. Similarly, Family Law and Wills & Trusts are very popular electives that also appear on the Bar exam, but they are NOT required for graduation. So, in theory, you could have a tech law geek complete their JD without formal courses in: Family Law, Marital Property, Wills, Trusts & Guardianships, Business Organizations,* Oil & Gas, Secured Transactions, Commercial Paper, Texas Procedure & Evidence,* Sales & Leases, Bankruptcy, Consumer Rights, and more topics that may be relevant on half the Bar exam (or more). That's at least HALF your score you can elect to defer even learning about until AFTER graduation.[* I actually had the pleasure of learning Bus Orgs from Prof Doug Moll, Texas Civil Procedure from Prof Robert Schuwerk, and Evidence from Adjunct Prof Tim Riley. In hindsight, they were probably my best elective choices of all to get me through the bar exam, in addition to my judicial internships.
Now, suppose that during the critical period between graduation and your Bar exam date, you are unable to follow the necessary study schedule to make up for your missing electives, much less comprehend the seemingly bizarre logic and strategies necessary to pass the MBE
. You're sick. You're in a car accident. You're grieving the unexpected loss of a friend or loved one. You're facing other personal setbacks that compromise your ability to concentrate and retain the information you need to get past this final hurdle.
Should you just withdraw from the exam and try later?
Everyone's situation is unique, but, based on my experience, if you can sit for the exam, take it. No matter how underprepared you think you are, take it. If you missed your bar prep course's simulated MBE
, just take the real thing. If you missed all the criminal procedure lectures because of poor scheduling, still take it. If you had to push back half a dozen review lectures to the final make-up week of back-to-back videos (where most of them sounded like Charlie Brown's schoolteacher because you are so exhausted), STILL TAKE IT. And, if you are more comfortable typing than handwriting, when you have the chance to type, TAKE IT.
Now, a big
part of me does not like the idea of encouraging people to sit for an exam they feel they might not be prepared for. (After all, I would love to see UHLC's first-time pass rate
hit 100%, too.) BUT, the geek in me recognizes the practicality of such a strategy. Instead of sinking hundreds or thousands of $$ in another formal bar prep course and/or delayed employment opportunities, one could just sit for the exam, possibly (probably) pass, and not have to worry about it again. Some 14% of Texas law school grads still fail the first time, but then they at least have a better idea what needs to improve for the next attempt. [Now I wonder how much of the repeater stats are affected just by the apparent social stigma of being a repeater? If you're unfazed by supposed stigmas, that may not even be a concern.]
I know how tempting it is to want to stay focused on your intended practice areas with upper-level electives, especially at UHLC, where the health and IP programs are top-notch
. Problem is, those subjects are not on the Bar exam. If you're still in school, do yourself a favor and make sure you include at least a few Bar exam classes in your degree plan (beyond the mandatory 1L curriculum) so, when it's time to get ready, you have some slack to deal with the (un)expected. Life happens - even while you're studying for the Bar exam.
If you are in the midst of preparing for the next Bar exam, just know that, as a law school grad, the odds are in your favor. If you can at least review the prior exams
and examiner's comments
, understand how your overall score is computed
, and give yourself time to focus on the material most likely to be tested, you might just do better than you expected.
So, if you can be there to take the Bar exam, and this is your first attempt,* I would NOT withdraw. Take it with confidence
. Then r_e_l_a_x
[*Texas permits applicants to sit for the exam five times - RuleXI(f)
UPDATE 11/7/06: I failed to mention that my very first class in law school was a crash course during the summer on the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure taught by Prof Robert Ragazzo
. Civ Pro is already a challenge during a regular semester, made even more difficult when compressed into a 5-6 week nightly law school version of "shock and awe." There were some casualties, unfortunately, but I have no doubt: Prof Ragazzo WILL make you a stronger law student and Bar candidate (if you survive).
Labels: bar exam