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After the Bar

Personal & Financial

Budgeting for Bar Retakers

Eden A Jackson


  • Taking the bar for the second time may be a nightmare for many, especially when you consider all of the costs that come with it.
Budgeting for Bar Retakers Lane © Catherine Lane 2017

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Taking the bar for the second time may be a nightmare for many, especially when you consider all of the costs associated with retaking the bar: character and fitness fees, fingerprint fees, bar exam fees, exam soft fees, hotel fees, parking at the bar exam facility—the list goes on. Of course, the costs vary from state to state, but the average fees associated with retaking the bar in Georgia is around $1,600. For a law school graduate, that expense may seem like too much, but you have to plan and budget. Here are a few tips to help you navigate through the rigors of paying for the bar and paying for living expenses. 

Should You Work?

While you are preparing to take the bar exam a second time, many will suggest that you stop working and only focus on studying for the bar. In theory, that’s great. In reality, we all have bills. The perfect job for someone retaking the bar is a job that offers the freedom to study while working. is a great job-search platform. You should also consider using your school as a resource to find a job. Non-legal work (e.g., tutoring, substitute teaching) is also popular for those who are retaking the bar.

If you are going to work, you need to start studying as early as possible. Creating a schedule to manage your time is always a good start.

How Should You Budget?

When creating a successful budget, you must be reasonable and truthful. Aside from your bills, you want to be mindful of your spending. You can’t work so much that you have no time to study, but you also have to make money. Calculate your expenses accurately and be mindful of the difference between wants and necessities. Account for the money you spend on your coffee runs and any fun activities you decide to partake in while you are taking a study break. Studying for the bar a second time can be stressful and even a little disheartening. You will want to ensure that you have a solid budget in place.

Budgeting can be fun and rewarding if it is done correctly. There are many ways to budget. Start with an application on your phone that helps with saving, such as Qapital and Acorns. Qapital is a unique application because it has different accounts that you can open, including a savings account with different rule options for those wanting to save little by little at a time and an investment account for long-term savings. Acorns is a useful application because it affords a multitude of features that you will find helpful. It offers the ability to make short-term investments, open retirement accounts, IRAs, and other financial resources that many companies do not offer to employees until after a year of employment.

Should You Take a Bar Course?

Bar courses cost between $2,000 and $4,000. When you already live on a budget, some programs may not be an option. Programs such as Barbri and Kaplan require all-day dedication and rivals against a rigorous work schedule. For me, there was no way I was spending $4,0000 for a program that I wouldn’t follow. Instead, I found Barbri books at Goodwill and was given Kaplan books by a friend. To stay on budget, I also paid about $300 for Adaptibar to study MBE questions, $75 for Barbri lectures on eBay, and $100 for Critical Pass flashcards on eBay. I paid $950 for a bar essay lecturer. If you’re going to pay a lot for a course, it might as well be a one-on-one session. However, there are bar courses (e.g., Celebration Bar Review and Agape Christian Bar Preparation Services, Inc.) created for those who are working and low on cash.

In the end, you can pass the bar this time around. I did! It doesn’t take leaving your job or fancy courses. It just takes a budget and a lot of dedication.