04 September 2019

How to pass the U.S bar exam with BARBRI and the College of Law

Published on 04 September 2019

How to pass the U.S bar exam with BARBRI and the College of Law

The bright lights and big city (or small town) life of American attorneys have long called to foreign lawyers. However, navigating the labyrinthine regulatory requirements to qualify for practise can be challenging. BARBRI is popular option for lawyers looking to make America their new professional home, having helped over 1.3 million lawyers pass the U.S bar exam. Insights spoke to one such lawyer - Chinese law graduate Vivian Ji - on what attracted her to undertake the U.S bar exam, and the challenges and benefits involved.

“I had done some research on bar exam preparation courses during the second semester of my LLM,” said Vivian. “BARBRI was an easy choice for me because of its great reputation and excellent law faculty. The fact that BARBRI has prepared 1.3 million students for the US bar exams for over 50 years was really reassuring.”

Vivian was impressed by how well organised the BARBRI training materials were, and credits this with helping her pass the New York bar exam without much trouble.

Easily completed alongside full-time work

Preparing for the exams was no easy feat, as Vivian continued to work full time while studying for the New York bar. 

“It’s a significant commitment,” explained Vivian. “Be prepared to assign 20-30 hours of study per week. This was challenging on top of a busy full-time job.”

To get set for success, Vivian advised discipline and focus.

“Set clear goals, be focused and determined,” said Vivian. “Follow the course schedule closely. Practice as many MBE questions as you can, and, as with any course of study, try not to leave assignments to the last minute.”

She found BARBRI’s bar review program to be well-paced and organised, which assisted greatly.

More job opportunities in the US and abroad

Vivian credits passing the New York bar exam with expanding her professional horizons - not only to the US, but also within other regions in Asia.

“In China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Bangkok, there is great demand for lawyers who are trained in both common law and civil law,” explained Vivian. For Vivian, this meant the possibility of working in larger firms, and an attendant salary increase. It’s a demand often overlooked by students considering qualification through the BARBRI program.

Indeed, Vivian was so impressed with BARBRI that she recently accepted a role as BARBRI’s Legal Manager for the Asia-Pacific region so she could share her experiences to students in the Asia-Pacific region.

“Increasingly, I see more and more students from the Asia-Pacific region - particularly Chinese and Koreans - who seek a common-law qualification. Our legal market is extremely competitive. The opportunity to become a dual-qualified lawyer is attractive, and the demand for dual-qualified lawyers will only increase, in my view.”

Vivian feels this is due to the trend of Chinese companies investing heavily overseas, particularly in the United States and Europe. As the expansion occurs, Chinese lawyers working in these organisations will need the qualifications and the knowledge of how a common law system works. 

“It will also be important for lawyers from the Asia-Pacific to know how to work with American and European lawyers. That is only possible by a thorough understanding of common law.”

Helping lawyers practice abroad

Central to BARBRI’s appeal is the fact that it provides a clear, accessible pathway to practising law abroad. This is unusual, given the myriad local regulatory requirements imposed on foreign lawyers, which can often make the process of transporting a legal career to a foreign jurisdiction quite challenging. 

This was very much what attracted Vivian to BARBRI.

“BARBRI’s training materials are very well organised,” said Vivian. “This helped provide the focus and discipline I needed to pass the New York Bar. It is what makes BARBRI such a popular choice for overseas lawyers looking to migrate to new countries.”

Watch our free ‘How to Become a US attorney’ info webinar and find out more the BARBRI International program to help you qualify as a solicitor in the US. The 6-month and 10-month programs begin September 2019.