I will graduate from law school in just a few short months. Classes end on April 26th, I have 2 papers and 3 finals, and then the commencement ceremony will take place on June 5th. But between now (March 30) and then (June 5), I have a ton of things to get done. Things that my school hasn’t conveyed to us very well. Here’s what I am experiencing now, as a graduating 3L, so that I can graduate and take the July bar exam(s) on time. I’ll keep updating this as my own personal reminder/checklist – and as a wakeup call to everybody else applying who might not know some of this information. It’s kinda long – sorry. Too many things to get done!
Can You Even Graduate?
- It is on YOU to check your transcript and make sure you completed all of your graduation requirements.
- For my school, there is a convenient checklist here: https://stjlawstudent.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/graduation-checklist-fall-2012-through-spring-2014-matriculants-revised-pages.pdf
Yearbook Photo/Senior Portraits: Cost: $189-$499+
- Prestige Portraits has a monopoly on these at many law schools, and they take full advantage of it. The packages are ridiculous and the pose limitation really forces you into buying one of the more expensive $300+ packages. The lowest package cost only gives you 1 pose – and if you want a senior portrait, a cap & gown pose, and a gown-only pose….you have to upgrade to the 3rd most expensive package at least. And not only will you get your 3 poses, you’ll get 234399384 extra things and more wallet-sized photos of your face than you ever needed.
- For my law school, there was no sitting fee, but at other schools, they charge you to take the photos regardless of if you want to buy a package. It’s non-refundable.
- You have to create an account online in order to select the photo you want your school to use in the Yearbook. Otherwise, they’ll just randomly select one for you.
- Within the week you receive your proofs, Prestige holds a special one-time only sale offering 20-40% off their packages, and rushes you into ordering NOW or else you’ll miss out and never get that price again.
- THEY WILL TAX YOU ON YOUR PACKAGE. AND YOU STILL HAVE TO PAY SHIPPING. The shipping part really irritates me. Most stores are generous enough to give you free shipping on $50+ (some at $100+) But no, here, you get the luxury of spending $500 on a photo package, get taxed on it, AND pay $7.50 in shipping.
- Needless to say, I almost bought their ultimate package during their St. Patrick’s Day sale but got so pissed off about TAX and SHIPPING that I promptly closed the window with a big “no, fuck you”.
Doing Pro-Bono Hours IS NOT ENOUGH
- In New York, all prospective lawyers are required to complete at least 50 hours of pro-bono service before they can become attorneys.22 NYCRR § 520.16
- Once you complete those hours, you need to fill out an Affidavit of Compliance. Just doing the hours isn’t enough.
- Maybe your school told youa bout this form, but mine didn’t. I overheard somebody else graduating mention that they hadn’t filled out their pro bono form yet – and asked them wtf they were talking about in order to figure out that there is an affidavit and I have to get mine filled out
Sign Up For A Good Bar Exam Prep Course
- And then make sure you actually put your address on file so you get your bar exam prep books on time. Get started browsing those outlines from your 1L core subjects because you will need all the time you can get.
- I went with Themis. I repped for them at my school, making my course free. I think their business practices are a lot more ethical and moral than Barbri, which I have SEEN is the slimiest of corporate sleazebag operations. Barbri will do anything to lock you into a contract. You will win $1000 vouchers and be obligated to take the course for $3500 (so $2000 to you), because they tell you that the price WILL ONLY GO UP, NOT DOWN. Then, one year later, the price will go down and you will be screwed.
- Kaplan is aiight. It’s not as cheap as Themis, and it’s not as expensive as Barbri. However, Themis gives everybody the most one-on-one support from the Themis supervisors. Kaplan is bigger and doesn’t have time for that much individual attention. Kaplan, however, offers lectures in-person and online. Themis is online-only.
- Go with the bar course that best fits how you study. Ask the representatives of all the courses to demo the course for you so you have an idea of what interface and study style you work with best.
Keep Track of Bar Application Deadlines
- New York: The bar applications open on April 1
- New Jersey: The bar application is already open. After April 22, the registration fee will jump from $575 to $1100.
- You need to create an account before you can begin your application. Do that early since it requires finding a lot of things and may take some time.
- New Jersey’s application will ask you to list what state you’re taking the MBE Exam. Make sure that if you’re taking a 2nd state’s bar exam, that they will accept the MBE taken in NJ. Otherwise, you’ll have to take the MBE in the other state and then travel to NJ for the NJ only portion of the exam.
- You will need your NCBE number again. Login to your NCBE account if you, like me, do not have it memorized. I luckily remembered my NCBE login information because I took the MPRE over the summer – but otherwise, that’s an extra step.
Taking Two Bar Exams
- I am taking two – New York and New Jersey – and it’s a pretty common combination. If you wanted to be rebellious, here’s how to figure out what state bar exam combos are even possible.
- Most states give the bar exam on Tuesday/Wednesday.
- Only three states administer essays on the Thursday after the MBE – Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Wyoming. So if you want to take two bar exams at the same time, you have to combine a Tuesday/Wednesday exam (any of the other 47 states) with the exam in one of these three states.
- Figure out what state to take the MBE portion of your exam. For me, both NY and NJ accept an MBE taken in another state, so I can take it wherever it’s more convenient for me. Since I live in NY, I’m going to take the MBE in New York.
- Here’s a list of states that accept MBE’s taken in another state
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- New Jersey MAY switch to UBE, but hasn’t yet. Sucks. Still have to follow their current fees and deadlines so you can sit for the July bar.
- New Jersey’s initial bar application asks you if you want to join the Laptop Program. I looked it up, and it basically asks whether you want to write your essays on a laptop or by hand. Pretty sure 99% of students use a laptop at this point.
- New Jersey is also unique in that your character and fitness application is due before you can sit for the NJ Bar Exam – so have it prepared before the April 22 deadline if you want to submit your application for $575, not $1100.
- NY’s site – https://www.nybarexam.org – is where you register to take the bar exam in NY. The registration is less annoying than NJ. NCBE # is required in Step 2 of registration.
- NYBOLE (New York state Board of Law Examiners) gives you a “BOLE” ID (B########). I don’t know what it’s for, but I saved it in case.
- More updates to come later. I haven’t started either application yet, just set up my initial accounts. NY’s doesn’t even open for another day.
Order Your Cap and Gown – and other graduation things
- We just got an email asking us to register for our cap and gown. Rental appears to be free. SCORE.
- You can also purchase school rings, diploma frames (Freakin $190 for mine), and graduation announcements (which are similarly overpriced)
- There IS a deadline for this, albeit a month later. If you don’t order by April 29, they assume you aren’t attending commencement.
- Make sure you know how many you get them, when you get them, and where they’re distributed. Find out how to get extra tickets (at my school, all students get 10 tickets, so I’m just telling my friends to give them their extras since they are freely transferable)