Countdown to July 30May 28, 2008 at 6:29 pm | Posted in law school | Leave a comment
Tags: bar exam, BarBri, Massachusetts bar exam
Today was the first BarBri review session (like a two-month Princeton Review course for the bar exam — almost everyone takes it, so it’s kind of a monopoly. And it costs almost $3,000, so if you don’t work for a firm who is paying for it, it’s actually a problematic monopoly…). My bar review experience did not get off to an auspicious start when yesterday, running across Copley Square with a stroller (yes, I brought the stroller to carry everything in — there are a lot of books! And they are intimidating and heavy!) full of books to beat the thunderstorm and massive downpour home, my MANDATORY i.d. card — the one they say DO NOT LOSE THIS, WE WILL NOT LET YOU IN TO CLASS — somehow flew out of my bag. Granted, that little alley between Copley and the Hancock building has been deemed the windiest spot in Boston, but still — it was in my possession for all of five minutes. So after class today, I couldn’t even have followed everyone to the library if I had wanted to to begin summarizing my criminal law notes. Instead, I had to go back to BarBri and get an affadavit, which then had to be notarized (by a nice guy at Bank of America across the street…). Yikes. I guess they are afraid you’ll get a duplicate i.d. to give to someone who hasn’t paid the $3,000 for the course?
Anyway, the BarBri course consists of six weeks of four-hour lectures that you watch on a tiny TV screen at the front of the biggest classroom at BC Law — the one where I had all my first-year classes. It felt very, very strange to be walking into school with all my classmates, just days after graduating, laden with heavy books, laptops, coffee mugs, and a packed lunch, preparing to spend entire days frantically typing out information and then heading to the library. Nine-to-five, five days a week — total 1L redux. The difference is, the BarBri class actually teaches you the law — and because of that, it wasn’t all that bad. Today we learned criminal law. Yes, all of it. In 3.5 hours. Which is all I will take with me into the bar exam because I never took it in law school. Which is also kind of frightening, but kind of not, because had I taken it in law school, I would have read a bunch of confusing cases and spent the entire semester wondering what was really important and what the rules really were without ever quite being sure. In just 3.5 hours, I learned the actual black-letter law — now all I have to do is memorize it.
For those who care, the bar exam is two days — the first day is the multi-state test, which everyone in the country takes. It is all multiple choice, and there are only six subjects tested, roughly: Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, Contracts, Evidence, Torts, and Property. You take four of those 1L year — Con Law, Contracts, Torts, and Property — so you have a pretty good grounding in them (most law schools also have Crim Law as part of the 1L curriculum, and BC changed theirs to include Crim the year after we were 1Ls, of course…) I never actually took Evidence or Crim Law on top of these (oops), but most people do. The second day is the Massachusetts portion of the exam, consisting of six essays, and there are like 13 possible topics, so that’s a bit dicier. Some topics they test almost every year (Criminal Procedure); some only once in awhile (Secured Transactions, and I know they tested that last year, so hopefully it won’t be on this year’s exam, which would be good since it is one of the hardest classes at BC Law. I didn’t take it…) Unfortunately, Tax is not one of the topics on either day of testing.
Anyway, it is sort of overwhelming, but only in the quantity of material. The actual material is not that difficult — it’s just a matter of gearing up to memorize massive quantities of factors and exceptions. Which I’m just about to do, having now secured another i.d. (the next one will cost me $250 if I lose this one!), downloaded every possible BarBri handout, and cleaned the kitchen in one last bout of procrastination. Criminal Law, here I come!
Update: For the first time ever, I understand that muder and manslaughter are subcategories of the larger classification of homicide. Woh. See? Perhaps we really don’t need law school afterall — just a six-week bar-prep course to really understand the law.