Category Archives: Bar exam study

Tips for Bar Exam Stress

An interesting article, The Lawyer, the Addict, in last weekend’s New York Times was written by the ex-wife of a lawyer who died of an overdose. In investigating her husband’s drug use and death, the author found a legal profession with high rates of substance abuse. The article contained good news for law students showing that before they start law school, law students are healthier than the general population, both physically and mentally. Andy Benjamin, a psychologist and lawyer who teaches law and psychology at the University of Washington, says that “They drink less than other young people, use less substances, have less depression and are less hostile.” In addition, he said, law students generally start school with their sense of self and their values intact.

But, in his research, he said, he has found that the formal structure of law school starts to change that. Unfortunately, there is a culture of drinking in the profession that starts in law school. Addicted law students become addicted lawyers. Depressed law students turn into depressed lawyers, unless you get help. Rather than hew to their internal self, students begin to focus on external values, he said, like status, comparative worth and competition. This is where stress over taking the bar exam comes into play.

bar examBy now, students taking bar exams have done the hard work studying. Now it is time to perform. At this point, it is going to be difficult to memorize much more, so now is the time to focus on practice tests and the art of taking the test, the actual process, and your pace. Spend your time wisely – not cramming in more random facts you probably won’t recall anyway. Don’t forget to breathe! Take the time to meditate, so you can clear your head which will allow your thoughts to become better organized. This will serve you well in the week leading up to the bar exam. Start each morning meditating, allowing your brain to be calmed and soothed. Not only will this help in the week before the bar, studies show that people who meditate make better complex decisions. Just what you need to answer the complex bar exam questions!  So, when you take the exam, and you read that question that seems to be a trusts and estates question, or wait, is it a dissolution question? Stop, breathe, and think!  Allow yourself just a minute to breathe in deep, clear your mind, and breathe out. Re-read the question, and do what you are well trained to do at this point – apply the law! Do this anytime you hit a panic-point during the exam.

zenOn the day before the exam, relax. It is not the time to hit the other bar. Relax and do something enjoyable. Check out from the Brooklyn Law Library collection the e-book titled The Zen of Passing the Bar Exam by Chad Noreuil, the best supplemental bar exam mindset book written. See a movie, eat a good meal, and understand that a few more hours of study are not going to change much. You are as ready as you are right here, right now. And finally, if you don’t pass the exam, remember that it is not the end of your world. Lots have taken, lots have not passed, and lots have re-taken. They have become amazing lawyers and judges and had fantastic careers. Your test score will not matter forever. The great news is that you can take it again. If the stress is overwhelming and you feel you are at the end of your rope, call the Lawyer Assistance Program in your state. They are trained to meet with you and will try to help you through the rough patch. If more professional help is needed, they will guide you. If during your exam preparation you find yourself becoming overwhelmed, take a minute (HALT) and think about whether you are also experiencing hunger, anger, loneliness, or tiredness. If so, you have permission to attend to your self-care and try to remediate the negative feelings. Taking a break, accepting your feelings and needs, and attending to self-care will likely make you more productive overall.

4thHope everyone will be enjoying the beautiful 4th of July weekend.

The Library will be open its normal hours on Saturday and Sunday and will be open from 9 to 5 on the Fourth.

The Library hours for the weekend are posted below.

Saturday July 2nd 9 am – 10 pm
Sunday July 3rd 10 am – 10 pm
Monday July 4th 9 am – 5 pm

Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks event is scheduled to begin around 9 PM and last for about 30 minutes.fireworks

The show will take place on the East River this year. Fireworks will be set off from the Brooklyn Bridge and from barges in the water below. You can view the fireworks from any area in Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn with an unobstructed view of the sky above the East River.

Enjoy.

Judicial Review and Alexander Hamilton

Independence Day 2016 marks the 240th anniversary of the Second Continental Congress’ adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. This milestone in US history is observed by Americans, young and old, as a national holiday on the same calendar date each year. If July 4 is a Saturday, it is observed on Friday, July 3. If July 4 is a Sunday, it is observed on Monday, July 5. This year government offices and schools are closed on Monday, July 4. See 5 U.S. Code § 6103. The library at Brooklyn Law School has reduced hours on Monday and will be open from 9am to 5pm so law students can study for the bar exam scheduled at the end of July.

RutgersIn Constitutional Law courses law students at BLS and throughout the country learn that the decision by Chief Justice John Marshall in Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137 (1803) is arguably the most important case in American law. It was the first U.S. Supreme Court case to apply the principle of “judicial review”, the power of federal courts to void acts of Congress in conflict with the Constitution. However, a newly acquired title in the BLS Library collection, Rutgers v. Waddington: Alexander Hamilton, the End of the War for Independence, and the Origins of Judicial Review by historian Peter Charles Hoffer (Call No. KF228.R877 H64 2016) makes clear that Marbury was not the first court in the new American Republic that considered the argument that a legislative enactment in conflict with a state or federal constitutional provision is void. One of the first decisions to address the question was Rutgers v. Waddington, decided in the Mayor’s Court in the City of New York on August 7, 1786. The case is important to American constitutional law because defendants’ primary attorney who argued for an expansive notion of judicial power was Alexander Hamilton, who advocated for the principal of judicial review in Federalist Paper No. 78.

The case was presented on June 29, 1784 with Chief Justice James Duane presiding. The facts showed that Plaintiff Elizabeth Rutgers owned a large brewery and alehouse on the northern side of Maiden Lane near where Gold Street now enters it. The brewery extended from Smith (now William) Street on the west, to Queen (now Pearl) Street, on the east; and from Maiden Lane, on the south, to John Street on the north. It was one of the most notable features in what is now the Financial District.  Plaintiff was forced to abandon the brewery during the British occupation of New York City. Under the Trespass Act of 1783, which permitted patriots to sue loyalists for damages to property in occupied areas of the state, Rutgers demanded rent from Joshua Waddington who had been running the brewery since it was abandoned. Alexander Hamilton, attorney for the defense, argued that the Trespass Act violated the 1783 peace treaty ratified earlier by Congress. Chief Justice Duane delivered a split verdict awarding Rutgers rent only from the time before the British occupation. The case was ultimately settled by the two parties. Importantly the case set a precedent for Congress’s legal authority over the states. In his ruling, Chief Justice James Duane wrote that “no state in this union can alter or abridge, in a single point, the federal articles or the treaty.”

New York State Adopts the Uniform Bar Examination

uniform bar examOn April 30, 2015 the New York State Court of Appeals, which oversees legal education in the state, amended the rules of admission to the bar to adopt the Uniform Bar Examination (UBE).  The UBE is a uniform battery of tests that are administered simultaneously in all UBE jurisdictions.  It consists of the Multistate Bar Examination, the Multistate Performance Test and the Multistate Essay Examination.

Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman gave notice to the bar on Tuesday, May 5th that New York State had adopted the Uniform Bar Examination.  New York becomes the sixteenth state to adopt the UBE, which is prepared by the National Conference of Bar Examiners.

New York will officially adopt the UBE in July 2016.  Those passing the exam will be able to apply for admission in any of the other states offering the UBE, thereby expanding their employment opportunities.  All of the other states currently offering the UBE are smaller than New York State.  Over 15,000 people took the bar exam in New York State in 2015.

The current UBE states are now:

  1. Alabama,
  2. Alaska
  3. Arizona
  4. Colorado
  5. Idaho
  6. Kansas
  7. Minnesota
  8. Missouri
  9. Montana
  10. Nebraska
  11. New Hampshire
  12. New York
  13. North Dakota
  14. Utah
  15. Washington
  16. Wyoming

An applicant for admission in New York must also take and complete an online course in New York-specific law, known as the New York Law Course (NYLC) and must take and pass an online examination, known as the New York Law Exam (NYLE).  It is anticipated that the NYLC and the NYLE will be available in Spring 2016.  Effective October 1, 2016, an applicant who sat for the UBE in another jurisdiction may transfer the score earned on that examination to New York in lieu of taking the UBE in New York.

For further details on the Uniform Bar Examination in New York State, see the following:

Court of Appeals Notice to the Bar

Board of Law Examiners UBE Informational Guide

Bar Exam Study Options at Local Law School Libraries

If you are a Brooklyn Law School student who is taking a bar review course at another law school, or would like to use another law school library to study for the bar exam, you will be pleased to know that you may have access to other law libraries, usually for a fee.  The policies and costs vary from library to library.  Librarian Mary Godfrey-Rickards of Hofstra Law School Library has compiled a chart with the pertinent information for each school.

Click here to view the bar exam study chart for summer 2015.