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Student Lawyer

Bar Admissions & Exam

An Open Letter from a Future Lawyer Now Studying for the Bar Exam

Megan Parker


  • Law school doesn’t end at graduation—the bar exam is a significant hurdle law school graduates face before they can practice law.
  • The author shares the best ways friends and family can support law school graduates during the three months of exam prep.
An Open Letter from a Future Lawyer Now Studying for the Bar Exam

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Dear family and friends:

My journey to the legal profession is almost—but not yet—over. My graduation ceremony on May 7 celebrates only the conveyance of a juris doctorate and master of law degrees, which alone aren’t sufficient for me legally to begin the practice of law. A significant hurdle remains before I can officially enter the legal profession—the Uniform Bar Exam.

I’ll be taking the UBE July 25-26, and it’ll be one of the most challenging legal exams I’ve taken. I want to provide you with some background as I embark on the bar exam preparation process starting May 1.

The Uniform Bar Exam

Ohio (and most other states) uses the UBE as the entrance test to the practice of law, like the United States Medical Licensing Examination for doctors or the National Council Licensure Examination for registered nurses. The UBE spans two days, with closed-book testing comprising three components prepared by the National Conference of Bar Examiners.

On the first day (a Tuesday), I’ll write six multistate essay exam (MEE) responses in the morning. The MEE questions can pertain to any one of the following areas of law: business associations, conflicts of law, constitutional law, contracts/sales, criminal law and procedure, evidence, family law, federal civil procedure, real property, secured transactions, torts, and trusts and estates.

In the afternoon, I’ll write two multistate performance test (MPT) responses that require composing two real-life practice documents from a “file” and “library” of approximately 25 pages each that I must read, analyze, and digest on the spot.

On the second day (a Wednesday), I’ll need to answer 200 multistate bar examination (MBE) multiple-choice questions covering six subject areas: constitutional law, contracts/sales, criminal law and procedure, evidence, federal civil procedure, real property, and torts.

The Bar Exam Prep Process

Given the array of 12 subjects and hundreds of rules within each subject that could be tested, the review process leading up to the UBE is long and grueling. Review courses often allow only one to three days to review all the material typically covered in a semester-long course. Because I haven’t taken a semester-long course on every subject tested on the UBE, bar preparation will require that I learn and understand several new subjects.

Statistics show that successful bar exam takers devote more than 330 hours to bar prep in the three months before their exam, memorizing and understanding rules of law and completing practice MBE, MEE, and MPT questions.

Therefore, using a commercial study program for my bar prep, I’ll be studying approximately six to seven hours a day practically every day from May 1 to June 23.

What You Need to Know

Statements of “You got this” or “I know you’ll pass” won’t ease my nerves.

Passing the UBE isn’t possible just by “being smart” or finishing law school. Passing takes months of study and preparation.

Recognize that I’m not “free” after driving across the stage to receive my diplomas.

Unless I’ve already committed to attending an event, family function, or outing, please accept this letter as my official RSVP response of no. I’ve already created my bar exam prep schedule with existing functions in mind and can’t afford to take any additional days off from studying.

Understand I’ll be “gone” for most of May, June, and July.

If you see me, I may not be mentally present. If you talk to me, I may not hear you. If I respond, I may not later know or remember what I said.

Even if you want just to say hello, that might have to wait. Unless you can deal with bringing food over and testing me with flashcards while we quickly eat, and then you leave immediately afterward, we’ll have to put everything off until August.

Results from the UBE won’t be available until the end of October.

Please don’t ask me on July 26 whether I passed the exam. And when results come out, please don’t bombard me with questions or spoil the result if you know how to find out (unfortunately, the information is publicly available).

Any negative emotions or attitude I exhibit isn’t because of you unless I directly tell you it is.

Preparing for the UBE is going to be an extremely stressful period of my life, not only due to reviewing hundreds of rules of law but also because of the constant fear of failure. If you attempt to talk to me and I come across as moody—unless I explicitly state otherwise—please understand that you’re not the reason for my negative emotions.

Remember that time off from studying doesn’t necessarily mean time with you.

While I’m unable to predict the future, just because there may be times when I’m not studying, that doesn’t mean I’ll be up to doing anything extravagant or extra. At most, I anticipate I’ll be up for (and will possibly need to refrain from losing my sanity) a few low-key, restorative moments together to be away from my study materials. Don’t expect anything more.

If you can reduce the burdens of finances, food, etc., on me, this type of support will mean more than words can describe.

Fortunately, I’m already at an advantage by living at home with my mom. But if you can help ease these burdens in any way to prevent my mom, sister, stepdad, etc., from losing their own minds, we’d greatly appreciate it.

Most importantly, don’t ask me for any legal advice.

Until I receive my official license to practice law, it’s illegal for me to answer any questions that could be construed as offering legal advice. If you ask me a legal question that’s not related to helping me study for the UBE, I won’t answer.

An important caveat: After I’m licensed to practice law, I won’t be a criminal law, estate planning, civil litigation, etc., attorney. I’ll be an intellectual property attorney handling copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets, and patents. No, I won’t represent you in any court just because you’re a family member or a friend.

Final Thoughts

Please know that until I start my bar exam prep, I’m happy to answer your questions or address your concerns. Additionally, here’s more information on how to support a bar exam taker.

Best regards and love,

Megan Parker, a handicapable hermit for the next few months