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CA Bar as Second Bar

Posted: Mon Nov 13, 2017 10:26 pm
by insertusernamehere
Anyone have any advice for me regarding taking the February CA Bar as my second bar after just passing in IL? I tried looking at the CA Bar official website and did some searches here, but I couldn't find anything helpful. I'm at a big law firm right now, and I would be studying while working.

I used Themis for my first bar, and I would love if people had some other resources beyond signing up for another class.

Any help or advice would be appreciated, thanks!

Re: CA Bar as Second Bar

Posted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 11:54 am
by bacillusanthracis
I guess it depends on how quickly you learn and how well you retain information. You'd have to learn the California-specific essay topics (California evidence, civ pro, crim, community property etc.). However, community property was tested in July and so will likely not be on the February exam.

The problem with California is in how the essays are graded. It's brutal.

Formatting is crucial in California. IRAC like a champ or risk death.

Most of the essays are straightforward in terms of what the questions are asking for, but there's going to be at least one that'll leave everyone confused for months afterward. The good old cross-over essay isn't a clear question about say, corporations and PR. Instead the question calls are confusing and there's much debate afterward about WTF they were asking for. The July exam featured a question where it was unclear whether it was an evidence question or civ pro.

To compound the problems of strict formatting, grading, and confusion, the California cut score is the second highest in the nation. What would be a passing performance in most other states is often given a failing grade in California.

Oh, one more thing: the California Supreme Court appeared as it if was about to smack down the California State Bar for their f'd up grading and scoring, but then decided (just about 6 weeks ago) that it wasn't going to interfere with what the state bar was doing. In other words, the bar here can do whatever the hell it wants. While unlikely, it's not impossible that the February exam could be the testing equivalent of a 1920s travelling freak show.

That's just my opinion. You'll get others who say different. Best of luck.

Re: CA Bar as Second Bar

Posted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 12:32 pm
by jacketyellow
insertusernamehere wrote:Anyone have any advice for me regarding taking the February CA Bar as my second bar after just passing in IL? I tried looking at the CA Bar official website and did some searches here, but I couldn't find anything helpful. I'm at a big law firm right now, and I would be studying while working.

I used Themis for my first bar, and I would love if people had some other resources beyond signing up for another class.

Any help or advice would be appreciated, thanks!


Don't do it, Ms. Celie.

Re: CA Bar as Second Bar

Posted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 1:19 pm
by CAnow
Unless you have some pressing need to be licensed in California immediately, I would say wait for a while. Studying from November to February will not be enough time considering: 1) this will be your first exposure to California state-specific law and 2) you will be working full-time.

I took the July 2017 CA bar as my second bar. I studied 5 months, during the months of March through July, while working full-time. And who knows, even that may not have been enough time because I don't even know if I passed or failed yet.

Re: CA Bar as Second Bar

Posted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 2:06 pm
by jacketyellow
CAnow wrote:Unless you have some pressing need to be licensed in California immediately, I would say wait for a while. Studying from November to February will not be enough time considering: 1) this will be your first exposure to California state-specific law and 2) you will be working full-time.

I took the July 2017 CA bar as my second bar. I studied 5 months, during the months of March through July, while working full-time. And who knows, even that may not have been enough time because I don't even know if I passed or failed yet.


You'll know Friday. Good luck!

Re: CA Bar as Second Bar

Posted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 6:09 pm
by Pleasye
CAnow wrote:Unless you have some pressing need to be licensed in California immediately, I would say wait for a while. Studying from November to February will not be enough time considering: 1) this will be your first exposure to California state-specific law and 2) you will be working full-time.

I took the July 2017 CA bar as my second bar. I studied 5 months, during the months of March through July, while working full-time. And who knows, even that may not have been enough time because I don't even know if I passed or failed yet.

Nah I'd say take it asap because he just studied for another bar exam. MBE is worth 50% now and the cal bar was heavy on MBE subjects in the essay section already anyway.

Re: CA Bar as Second Bar

Posted: Wed Nov 15, 2017 6:20 pm
by horriblegb
FWIW I am also taking the CA bar in February as my second bar exam, but I am sitting for the attorneys exam. Long story short I was screwed on the Central District's Local Rules for Federal Attorneys, and I need to be licensed in CA.

I started studying a month ago and the amount of information I forgot in 4.5 years is overwhelming. I also have my first trial in January. So you arent alone.

I am not taking classes, instead I bought barbri books off craiglist, Essay Exam Writing for the California Bar Exam, and I am doing practice essays on the weekend. After my trial is over, I plan on just doing practice essays over and over.

How much should i be worried with the new PT? Should I bother studying community property if it was on the July exam? Any other advice from July takers (of course, good luck with results on Friday).

Re: CA Bar as Second Bar

Posted: Fri Nov 17, 2017 8:40 pm
by insertusernamehere
Pleasye wrote:
CAnow wrote:Unless you have some pressing need to be licensed in California immediately, I would say wait for a while. Studying from November to February will not be enough time considering: 1) this will be your first exposure to California state-specific law and 2) you will be working full-time.

I took the July 2017 CA bar as my second bar. I studied 5 months, during the months of March through July, while working full-time. And who knows, even that may not have been enough time because I don't even know if I passed or failed yet.

Nah I'd say take it asap because he just studied for another bar exam. MBE is worth 50% now and the cal bar was heavy on MBE subjects in the essay section already anyway.


Yeah those are my thought exactly. I started studying again and a lot of the MBE stuff is coming back to me. TBH, the above description of the essarys sounds completely terrifying, but I think I can get used to the IRAC formula again. I did really well on the graded Themis essays; hope I can do well on this exam.

Anyone have any advice on third party books to help me study? My friend will be providing me with his old July 2017 materials, but I'll need some new MBE questions.

Re: CA Bar as Second Bar

Posted: Sat Nov 18, 2017 2:10 am
by nervous_wreck
Don’t be terrified of the writing but know that on each administration the examiners like to give either an essay or PT that is “unusual” or unlike something you have seen before. Just attack
It with confidence. Other than that the exam is hard, the grading is hard, and you will have to be prepared to pass.

It’s doable. Don’t be scared.

Re: CA Bar as Second Bar

Posted: Sat Nov 18, 2017 2:19 am
by 6TimeFailure
I have been talking to some people this evening about the CBX, and there's been some advising attorneys to take the regular 2-day exam versus the 1-day attorney exam.

Re: CA Bar as Second Bar

Posted: Sat Nov 18, 2017 3:10 am
by RoccoPan
6TimeFailure wrote:I have been talking to some people this evening about the CBX, and there's been some advising attorneys to take the regular 2-day exam versus the 1-day attorney exam.


I decided to take the 2-day exam instead of the 1-day attorney exam and am glad I did. I felt like the outcome was more in my control since I wasn't relying completely on the subjective assessment of the essay graders. I also think pass rates are historically higher for attorneys taking the general exam than those taking the attorney exam.

Re: CA Bar as Second Bar

Posted: Sat Nov 18, 2017 9:33 am
by jman77
Passed the NY bar in July 2014, moved to CA end of May this year and took and passed the July CA bar. I had the option to take the February 2018 bar (and that was what my law firm recommended), but I just wanted to get it over with ASAP.

Contrary to what some have said here (and in agreement with what others have said), I think you should take it as soon as you can. The CA bar is now allocated 50/50 between the MBE and written portions, which means it is almost a guaranty that if you do well enough on the MBE, you will auto-pass (this was not the case in the past). You have to take advantage of the freshness of the MBE topics in your mind. I've heard about how tough CA graders are and I acknowledge that the CA essays were a bit harder compared to NY (more open-ended, less specific questions). However, with the new format assigning more weight to the MBE, that is not as significant a factor as it used to be.

Although I took the NY bar 3 years ago, I found that my MBE recall was still relatively strong (except for Civ Pro, which wasn't included in the 2014 MBE). I was only able to study for 2 weeks as that was the only time I could (and wanted to) take off from my law firm. The way I distributed the 2 weeks was 10-11 days on the MBE, just drilling one Barbri test after another (no Adaptibar, no flashcards -- for others using these resources worked) and 2-3 days reading and re-reading the SmartBarPrep high frequency rules outlines (I think I went over the outlines 3-4 times over the course of 2.5 days).

My goal was to maintain my NY MBE score and just know how to state/paraphrase the rules for the essays so I could just avoid getting a any 50's or 55's, although based on a few score calculators, my NY MBE score (assuming I maintained or didn't drop by more than 7 or so points) gave me the allowance to score 2 50's, 3 55's and and 1 60 and still pass comfortably. I never wrote out a single essay (or a single performance test for that matter). As it turns out, I still think I did a pretty decent job at the essays (at least 60's on each one). But the bottom line was I pretty much put all my eggs in the MBE basket. Again, with the new format, auto-passing based on the MBE is very viable.

TLDR: take the February bar to take advantage of the fact that the MBE is still fresh in your mind. Focus on the MBE (just keep drilling and reviewing answers -- the more you do these tests, the clearer you'll be able to see certain patterns and iterations of the same patterns of questions and answers) and aim for an "auto-pass" score (use score calculators to ascertain the score you need to get). Two weeks is sufficient time (to be honest, I watched my fair share of Netflix during the 2 weeks I was studying). If you are able to start earlier and/or take off more time from work, so much the better. I highly recommend the SmartBarPrep outlines for essay prep (I used it for both NY and CA).

Re: CA Bar as Second Bar

Posted: Sat Nov 18, 2017 10:35 am
by CAnow
I would modify my prior statement by saying take it now *if* (as others have said) your MBE is strong enough to pull you through. I would not do this because I found the last administration of the MBE to be very difficult, but YMMV. Based on feedback from examinees from other states, it seems there was a very generous bump in the scaled MBE scores this year. I passed the July 2017 CA bar, but I don't know what pulled me through - my essay scores or my MBE with supposed generous bump.

Re: CA Bar as Second Bar

Posted: Sat Nov 18, 2017 1:49 pm
by horriblegb
Yes based on the statistics I saw regarding the passers on the July bar exam I think I am switching from the attorney exam to the two day full exam.

Re: CA Bar as Second Bar

Posted: Sat Nov 18, 2017 1:54 pm
by jman77
CAnow wrote:I would modify my prior statement by saying take it now *if* (as others have said) your MBE is strong enough to pull you through. I would not do this because I found the last administration of the MBE to be very difficult, but YMMV. Based on feedback from examinees from other states, it seems there was a very generous bump in the scaled MBE scores this year. I passed the July 2017 CA bar, but I don't know what pulled me through - my essay scores or my MBE with supposed generous bump.


I agree to an extent with your statement, but he/she still has a lot of time to bring his/her MBE up to speed even if taking the February exam. Plenty of time. Assuming OP's MBE score is not already in auto-pass range, doing at least 50 MBE questions a day between now and January, then ramping it up as necessary as the exam gets closer is a very viable strategy to getting there. Just make sure you are mindful when doing the questions and particularly when reviewing the answers.

So, my advice still stands. Focus more on the MBE. The essays leave you at the whim of the graders; the MBE is almost completely within your control. Learn enough of the rules (and basic issue spotting) to ensure you don't completely bomb on the essays. I used IRAC on my essays, but I did not have any formatting, no headers or anything like that, which I heard is a big deal in CA. Additionally, I did not look at a single sample essay at all (I had to be extra judicious with the way I allocated my time since I only had 2 weeks -- OP has over 2 months). Like the other poster said (I think we also talked about this in the CA July 2017 thread), taking the 2-day exam might be a better strategy even if you have the option to take only the attorney exam. The MBE is your friend under the new format. Of course, if OP is terrible at the MBE and can't see himself/herself improving, my advice does not apply -- but he/she did pass the IL bar, so I'd like to think his/her MBE skills are at least passable at this point.

But focus, focus, focus on the MBE. Again, with the new format, an auto-passing based on the MBE score is very attainable. Of course if OP wants to be able to enjoy the holiday season, then they should take the July 2018 exam instead. Another motivation for me to take July 2017 instead of February 2018 even if that was an option is that I didn't want to be studying over the Thanksgiving/Christmas holidays. Another thing to consider is that the MBE "bump" for the February 2018 administration will likely not be as generous as for the July 2018 administration because February administrations typically have a weaker examinee pool.

Re: CA Bar as Second Bar

Posted: Sat Nov 18, 2017 6:10 pm
by SouthernOutWest
horriblegb wrote:How much should i be worried with the new PT? Should I bother studying community property if it was on the July exam? Any other advice from July takers (of course, good luck with results on Friday).


FWIW: I passed CA in July 2017 on my first try after graduating in May from a T1 out of state law school.

Don't be worried about the new PT. You can see the one that we (July 2017) took, and honestly, it wasn't particularly difficult- just remember to format the PT as called for in the question (i.e. memo, complaint, email, whatever). CA posts the last 5 or so years of essays and PTs, so if that's the only portion you have to take as an attorney, look at those, issue spot and IRAC the heck out of them, and call it a day. I stopped doing Barbri's essays once I saw that CA posted lots of previous essays, and I simply issue spotted and IRAC'd those.

I'd recommend learning Community Property even though it was just tested because it's easy to learn and you don't want to be screwed if they test it back to back just for giggles. Barbri's got a 4 sentence or so paragraph to memorize, so memorize that and learn a few other basic rules of CP and be done. If you want a good essay resource for CA, I know lots of people on TLS have recommended this: http://baressays.com (I didn't use it but I know plenty of people who did and loved it). Good luck!!! And feel free to reach out to myself or others if you have any other questions.

Re: CA Bar as Second Bar

Posted: Sat Nov 18, 2017 6:39 pm
by de5igual
I'm a biglaw midlevel (on track to bill ~2400 hours) -- i mention this only to say that I didn't have that much time to study -- and took CA as a second bar this past July (and passed on the first try).

As for materials I used: 1) lean sheets, 2) baressays.com, 3) adaptibar and 4) conviser. Looking back, I rarely cracked conviser open--and when I did, it was only to read up on civ pro (since it wasn't a topic that was on my first bar), and especially since you just took the bar, you probably won't need it. My regimen involved reading 1 lean sheet topic each morning for 30 minutes and doing either 30 adaptibar questions or outlining 2-3 essays each day during lunch. I did that for 4 months leading up to the bar. I didn't do any PT questions -- based on the sample the state bar posted, it's pretty much exactly the same as the MPT, so I figured I could wing it.