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Bar Exam for LLMs

What is the value of the Bar Exam for LLMs?

Each State in the US regulates the practice of law, administering its own Bar Exam.

Passing the Bar Exam in any State in the US will allow you to practice (i.e. to provide legal advice) in that State. Passing the Bar Exam in New York or the California is also considered to be an international credential around the world.
From the academic point of view, by preparing for the Bar Exam you will learn a lot of substantive US Law that for sure you had not covered during your LLM.
By taking the Bar Exam you will also go through a critical stage in the career of an American lawyer. The Law School experience during the LLM and taking the Bar Exam will allow you to better understand how American attorneys see and feel the practice of law.
Most states in the US require a JD degree to sit for the Bar Exam. New York and California allow candidates to sit for the Bar Exam with only an LLM Degree.
Do not miss the fine description of the Bar Exam for LLMs made by Yale Law School.


Basic Information: New York and California

These are some of the several official websites you should visit to gather the most releant information about the Bar Exam:


New York Bar Exam

Format and Areas of Law Covered

The New York Bar Exam is a 2-day exam.
Each day entails a 6-hour exam divided in two sessions of 3 hours each, one before and the other after lunch.
Day 1 covers New York law which is tested in:
     - 5 essay questions
     - 50 Multiple Choice questions
     - 1 Multistate Performance Test or MPT.
The areas of New York law covered are the following:
  • business relationships including agency, business corporations, limited liability companies, partnerships and joint ventures;
  • civil practice and procedure (New York, except as noted);
  • conflict of laws;
  • New York and federal constitutional law;
  • contracts and contract remedies;
  • criminal law and procedure;
  • evidence;
  • matrimonial and family law;
  • professional responsibility;
  • real property;
  • torts and tort damages;
  • trusts, wills and estates; and
  • UCC Articles 2, 3 and 9.
Day 2 covers "Multistate" law and is tested through the Multistate Bar Examination (also known as MBE). The MBE comproses 200 multiple choice questions administered in two sessions of 100 questions each.
The areas of "Multistate" law covered are the following:
  • constitutional law
  • contracts
  • real property
  • torts
  • criminal law
  • criminal procedure
  • evidence
A complete review of the websites for both the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBEX) and the New York State Board of Law Examiners is of the essence to get the most updated information and achieve a proper understanding of how the Bar Exam is administered.
Additionally, on a separate day you will have to sit for the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (also known as MPRE), which is a 60-question, two-hour-and-five-minute, multiple-choice examination administered three times each year.


The following outlines can be of use to you for the Bar Exam (and for your LLM as well).
  1. Lexis Nexis - Contracts Capsule Summary.
  2. Lexis Nexis - Torts Capsule Summary.
  3. Lexis Nexis - Criminal Law Capsule Summary.
  4. IRAC Method: click here for a video that will help you better understand and use the IRAC Method.

Passing rates and Statistics

Generally 35% of the international LLM Students who take the Bar Exam will succeed, but you can take a look at the detailed official information provided by the New York Board of Law Examiners here, and take a look at information provided by other states here.


Top 10 Tips for International LLM Students to Pass the New York Bar Exam

Passing the Bar Exam is not rocket science. You just need to have the proper information and a lot of timeto get a lot of rules in your mind.

1. Make Sure You Are Eligible to Take the Bar Exam and Apply as Early as Possible

Takea lookat the Rules of Eligibility for the New York Bar and make sure that you comply with all the requirements. Look especially into the Foreign Legal Education section.
The application process for the New York Bar Exam is sophisticated, especially for International Attorneys. You will be required to file a lot of documents as evidence of your Law Degree and your LLM Degree. Several of those will have to be officially certified by authorities in your home country, and all of them must be officially translated into English. This process may take a long time so you need to start as early as possible.
Take a look the Bar Exam Application forms in order to become familiar with theApplication requisites. 

2. Choose Your LLM Courses to Learn in Advance Contents of the Bar Exam

There are many fields of Law that included in the Bar Exam. Learning some of them duringyour LLM will give you a great advantage, especially in regard to MBE subjects.

3. Choose a Bar Preparation Course (Money is not a problem)

International LLM Students face a big challenge in learning a lot of new lawwhen preparing for the New York Bar Exam. Any Bar "Review" Course will not be a "review" but learning lots of law from zero.
Some International LLM Students decide to purchase used books by any Bar Preparation Company and study on their own. This is not impossible but it is extremely hard. So unless you have the discipline of a military, simply do not trap yourself.
Take a look above in this page to see a list of Bar Exam Preparation Companies and sign-up for a full review course with the one you like the most.
If you do not have enough money to pay for the Bar Preparation Course there is an easy solution: sign-up as a student representative for this companies and you may get the course for free (or at least a substantial discount). However, be careful if you are offered any other kind of compensation (i.e. money) because it is most possible that your visa status will not allow you to have any earnings in the US outside of a campusjob and under certain circumstances.

4. Learn The Structure of the Exam

It is of the essence to know how the Bar Exam works. You can find that information above on this page. You must reach the exam day avoiding any kind of surprise in what you are expected to do with each section of the exam.

5. THE MOST IMPORTANT THING: You Need Enough Time as to Learn a Lot of Rules - The Real Issue With The New York Bar Exam Is The Hughe Volume Of Information

This is not rocket science. It a law exam covering a lot of rules. Although most of those rules are not complex, a lot of time is required to learn them andpractice how to apply them to facts. Then, you need a lot of time to go over all the information covered and practice.
Bar Exam Preparation Companies usually suggest around 10 hours of study a day during almost a month and a half for JDs sitting for the Bar Exam. If you consider that LLMs lack the background in American law that JDs have, you can imagine how many hours you will need to devote to this enterprise.
Usually you would start preparing the Bar Exam 1 week after graduation from your LLM Program, and study 5 days a week or more.

6. Exceptions are as Important as Rules

You will be tested especially on your knowledge of the exceptions to rules so you cannot afford to miss learning each and every exception to each and every rule.

7. Learn to Make Proper Use of The Time

Time is of the essence during the exam. There are many questions to be answeredin a short period of time so you better time yourself when practicing in order to avoid problems during the exam. You should not fail to finish answering all the multiple choice questions, all the essays and the MPT because you will loose many points that way.
If you do not know the answer to a question you will have to make your best guess and move to the following question fast enough as to keep your timing. No person has ever had a perfect score in the Bar Exam so you can be sure that you will face questions where you will have no idea what they are talking about. That's part of the Bar Exam.

8. Use the IRAC Method for the Essays and NEVER Miss To Write Down Each Part of the IRAC Analysis

Essays are not about giving the exact legal solution to a problem but about showing you can properly analyze a legal problem.The IRAC method (Issue, Rule, Analysis of the case, and Conclusion) is the key to succeed on the Essays, which are a big part of the Bar Exam.
Even if you don't know the applicable rule, or when you have no idea about the conclusion, just create one but do not miss to include each part of the IRAC analysis.
And don't forget to mention each element of the rule and the exceptions as well.

9. Focus on Practice Questions More Than On Learning The Theory

You need to know the way in which you will be tested about each legal rule.
The Bar Exam is about answering questions correctly, so you need to practice on how the Test Takers will question you. The MBE, the MPT, and the Essaysrequire different techniques that you need to practice in advance so you can manage them to perfection during the exam. The best way to do that is practicing. The Bar Exam is not about becoming an expert in the law but about learning how spot the correct answer for the questions. Reading outlines to learn the law is just the first step. Practicing is the second one and you cannot miss it.

10. Do Not Panic During The Exam

Once you arein the Examination Room you are your only enemy. Do whatever you need to do to relax and focus all your skills in answering the questions.
Panic and stress will definitely lead you to failure. You need to be cool minded and focused.


You can succeed in the Bar Exam if you are well informed about the Exam and you take enough time to study.

Bar Exam Books

Click here to see the most recommended Bar Exam books at Amazon.

Tip: You may see them fighting under free-market rules to sign-up students for their Bar Exam Prep Courses these days.

However -as BarBri likes to say- Kaplan is somehow new to the Bar Exam Prep Courses. For a long time the company that prepares people around the world for almost any exam you can imagine kept itself out of the Bar Exam Prep Courses market. 

It seems that a class action was decisive for that situation to change.

If you want to learn more, here is a brief of the story about the class action and the settlement, and you can get the judicial details herehere and here.

Enjoy being informed!!!

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