Foreign attorney taking the bar - advice much needed

Discussions related to the bar exam are found in this forum
barinthefuture

New
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed Feb 28, 2018 11:15 am

Foreign attorney taking the bar - advice much needed

Postby barinthefuture » Wed Feb 28, 2018 12:32 pm

Hello everyone,

I am a foreign attorney (Europe) and I need to take the bar exam in the US. I passed the bar in my country and practiced for several years there, but it was not a common law system. For that reason, I need to start literally from the very beginning. I am fully committed and plan to take the bar next winter - it means 11 months of intense studying. I am thinking 5 hrs every day, probably less during the weekends.

I've read a lot about MBE questions, BarBri courses, essay templates books, etc. but unfortunately what I need right now is super-basic. Of course, most of the institutions are well-known to me, since law is generally not that different, so I hope it will make some difference and studying process won't be super painful :) (I mean of course it will be painful, its the bar after all ;/ )

I would really appreciate your advice on the best books I could possibly find. I did some research using topics for law students:
Con Law - Chemerinsky
Torts - Glannon
Property - Sprankling
Criminal Law - Dressler
Civil Procedure - Freer
Contracts - Chirelstein

I've read a lot of good reviews about Lexis Nexis Q&A series. I suppose I also need to get some case briefs books? Dunno what books to use for the essay part (I mean the state law - I need to decide between Texas and California).
Really, any advice will be useful for me.

Also, if anybody from Dallas, TX is here looking for a study partner, let me know :)

albanach

Gold
Posts: 1538
Joined: Tue Jul 08, 2008 10:05 pm

Re: Foreign attorney taking the bar - advice much needed

Postby albanach » Wed Feb 28, 2018 1:07 pm

Assuming you qualify to take the bar in your intended state, you're over thinking this.

The bar exam is much narrower in focus than law school. You need a bar course, rather than attempting to learn three or four semesters of law school in under a year. What state are you trying to get admitted to? Others who have taken the bar in that state can advise on courses.

barinthefuture

New
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed Feb 28, 2018 11:15 am

Re: Foreign attorney taking the bar - advice much needed

Postby barinthefuture » Wed Feb 28, 2018 2:10 pm

@albanach , thanks for your response!

I am thinking of either taking the bar in Texas (but here I need to complete one year llm program, which seems to be a waste of time and money ;/) or California.

I believe you are right saying that the bar exam is not as extensive as law school, obviously - but I still feel that I lack all the basics. I am afraid that bar course would be too advanced for me right now. Once I get to know the basics, of course I will take the course.

Thecharmishere

New
Posts: 14
Joined: Thu Jan 18, 2018 5:35 pm

Re: Foreign attorney taking the bar - advice much needed

Postby Thecharmishere » Wed Feb 28, 2018 11:01 pm

barinthefuture wrote:Hello everyone,

I am a foreign attorney (Europe) and I need to take the bar exam in the US. I passed the bar in my country and practiced for several years there, but it was not a common law system. For that reason, I need to start literally from the very beginning. I am fully committed and plan to take the bar next winter - it means 11 months of intense studying. I am thinking 5 hrs every day, probably less during the weekends.

I've read a lot about MBE questions, BarBri courses, essay templates books, etc. but unfortunately what I need right now is super-basic. Of course, most of the institutions are well-known to me, since law is generally not that different, so I hope it will make some difference and studying process won't be super painful :) (I mean of course it will be painful, its the bar after all ;/ )

I would really appreciate your advice on the best books I could possibly find. I did some research using topics for law students:
Con Law - Chemerinsky
Torts - Glannon
Property - Sprankling
Criminal Law - Dressler
Civil Procedure - Freer
Contracts - Chirelstein

I've read a lot of good reviews about Lexis Nexis Q&A series. I suppose I also need to get some case briefs books? Dunno what books to use for the essay part (I mean the state law - I need to decide between Texas and California).
Really, any advice will be useful for me.

Also, if anybody from Dallas, TX is here looking for a study partner, let me know :)


You really don’t need it.
If you feel like you need to get to know the material before studying for the bar exam, I would recommend you to get Barbri’s CMR or their big outlines or any equivalent book of the other bar prep companies and take you time to read it. I believe it will be enough.

User avatar
SilvermanBarPrep

Bronze
Posts: 269
Joined: Thu Aug 22, 2013 9:19 pm

Re: Foreign attorney taking the bar - advice much needed

Postby SilvermanBarPrep » Fri Mar 02, 2018 12:08 pm

I think this could be overkill. What you need is a course like Barbri, Kaplan, etc., that will prepare you for what you need to know on the bar exam. A lot of this books you've mentioned are more geared towards students taking final exams in that subject and you could go down paths that are not required knowledge for the bar exam. Starting early is key but make sure you are targeting this specific exam with your studies.

Sean (Silverman Bar Exam Tutoring)

barinthefuture

New
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed Feb 28, 2018 11:15 am

Re: Foreign attorney taking the bar - advice much needed

Postby barinthefuture » Tue Mar 06, 2018 3:41 pm

Thank you for your responses.

I contacted BarBri asking about the details and price. Seems they have a special LLM program for the bar, which means $300 more and some additional materials.

Of course, I would still appreciate any advice!

Thecharmishere

New
Posts: 14
Joined: Thu Jan 18, 2018 5:35 pm

Re: Foreign attorney taking the bar - advice much needed

Postby Thecharmishere » Tue Mar 06, 2018 4:56 pm

barinthefuture wrote:Thank you for your responses.

I contacted BarBri asking about the details and price. Seems they have a special LLM program for the bar, which means $300 more and some additional materials.

Of course, I would still appreciate any advice!

Kaplan and Themis have designated programs for LLM too.

barinthefuture

New
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed Feb 28, 2018 11:15 am

Re: Foreign attorney taking the bar - advice much needed

Postby barinthefuture » Wed Mar 07, 2018 9:28 pm

Has anyone here tried it?

The LLM version is supposed to last 9 months in total, including the bar course.

To be honest I feel completely intimidated by the bar exam, hope these months will be enough to prepare and feel comfortable enough even with legal English lol ;/

User avatar
Asroma

New
Posts: 74
Joined: Sun Feb 19, 2017 12:41 pm

Re: Foreign attorney taking the bar - advice much needed

Postby Asroma » Thu Mar 08, 2018 4:30 pm

I did it with Kaplan.
I have the same background as you but I did go back to school here for my LLM (10 years ago). My LLM program did not have any of the MBE subjects though.
I started the LLM Kaplan in January, took the Bar in NY in July and passed. I was as scared as you are but it is doable. Definitely agree with the others: do not overdo. Follow the program and you will be fine.

AspiringCALawyer

New
Posts: 96
Joined: Fri Mar 11, 2016 11:50 pm

Re: Foreign attorney taking the bar - advice much needed

Postby AspiringCALawyer » Fri Mar 09, 2018 1:36 am

barinthefuture wrote:Hello everyone,

I am a foreign attorney (Europe) and I need to take the bar exam in the US. I passed the bar in my country and practiced for several years there, but it was not a common law system. For that reason, I need to start literally from the very beginning. I am fully committed and plan to take the bar next winter - it means 11 months of intense studying. I am thinking 5 hrs every day, probably less during the weekends.


Regarding your choice of bar exam, what is your long term goal? I ask because California has no reciprocity with other states. Conversely, it is my understanding that foreign lawyers typically took New York bar. Plus, New York has reciprocity. I assume this would also apply to a foreign lawyer.

Regarding all that studying, I agree with those that your initial plan is overkill. Plus, you'd burn out with such a long schedule. With the typical couple month bar review study schedule it's intense. Focus on what you need to pass.

b290

Bronze
Posts: 249
Joined: Mon Oct 23, 2017 5:28 pm

Re: Foreign attorney taking the bar - advice much needed

Postby b290 » Sat Mar 10, 2018 9:31 pm

AspiringCALawyer wrote:
barinthefuture wrote:Hello everyone,

I am a foreign attorney (Europe) and I need to take the bar exam in the US. I passed the bar in my country and practiced for several years there, but it was not a common law system. For that reason, I need to start literally from the very beginning. I am fully committed and plan to take the bar next winter - it means 11 months of intense studying. I am thinking 5 hrs every day, probably less during the weekends.


Regarding your choice of bar exam, what is your long term goal? I ask because California has no reciprocity with other states. Conversely, it is my understanding that foreign lawyers typically took New York bar. Plus, New York has reciprocity. I assume this would also apply to a foreign lawyer.

Regarding all that studying, I agree with those that your initial plan is overkill. Plus, you'd burn out with such a long schedule. With the typical couple month bar review study schedule it's intense. Focus on what you need to pass.
(emphasis added)

Start here:

http://www.nationaljurist.com/internati ... e-bar-exam

I'll agree with the California comment. You go where you want to be for the next 3-5 years or where next job will be. California, while it doesn't require a law school degree (or even attendance), doesn't recognize licenses from other states (the same with Florida, Nevada, and a few others), and no state recognizes theirs. That means if you ever want to move elsewhere, you're effectively stuck - unless you take another bar exam. That can easily be avoidedby going to a state that has reciprocity. Studying for the bar exam is no fun - why repeat it unnecessarily?

I'll also agree with the others. DO NOT overkill. That's a sure way to fail. Unless you're planning on becoming a legal scholar, there's no reason for you to read any of those books (I barely tolerated them in law school - and I had to).

My $.02

barinthefuture

New
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed Feb 28, 2018 11:15 am

Re: Foreign attorney taking the bar - advice much needed

Postby barinthefuture » Sun Mar 11, 2018 5:19 pm

Hi again and thanks!

As far as I know, California is the only state that allows foreign attorneys to take the bar exam without llm degree.
Unfortunately, I dont have llm - I finished studies in my country (5 years), then 3 years of apprenticeship (this is how system in my country works) and then passed the bar and practiced for over two years before moving to Texas.

My first option was llm program in Texas, but it's extremely expensive and lasts one year. The biggest advantage is of course the possibility of taking the bar here and I am still thinking about it.
Then I found out about California and was sure that with that licence I could practice federal law in Texas - I am thinking about immigration law.

AspiringCALawyer

New
Posts: 96
Joined: Fri Mar 11, 2016 11:50 pm

Re: Foreign attorney taking the bar - advice much needed

Postby AspiringCALawyer » Mon Mar 12, 2018 3:07 am

barinthefuture wrote:Hi again and thanks!

As far as I know, California is the only state that allows foreign attorneys to take the bar exam without llm degree.
Unfortunately, I dont have llm - I finished studies in my country (5 years), then 3 years of apprenticeship (this is how system in my country works) and then passed the bar and practiced for over two years before moving to Texas.

My first option was llm program in Texas, but it's extremely expensive and lasts one year. The biggest advantage is of course the possibility of taking the bar here and I am still thinking about it.
Then I found out about California and was sure that with that licence I could practice federal law in Texas - I am thinking about immigration law.


Regarding the LLM, does it have to be from a Texas school or can you do one online (i.e., for a cheaper option)? If the LLM is your only route to taking the bar, I would strongly suggest taking the New York bar, if Texas isn't an option.

As someone who has taken and failed the CA bar twice in 2016, it's no joke. Since I'm already licensed in NY (before UBE) and PA (passed on first try for both), I only took CA attorney bar (when it was 2 days instead of 1), which only consists of performance tests and essays (excludes MBE). The graders in CA are VERY particular about what constitutes a passing score on performance tests and essays (just peruse comments on the board about the test). So far, I haven't been able to crack the code. If I have to hire a tutor, it could cost $2,500 to $5,000, in addition to another bar review class (about $3,000). In addition, you'll have to deal with the logistics of traveling to CA to take the test. I had to do that twice (I lived in Illinois at the time).

After a year of unsuccessful attempts, I'm on hiatus until I can get more funds to sit for the exam again. At least I live in CA now.

AspiringCALawyer

New
Posts: 96
Joined: Fri Mar 11, 2016 11:50 pm

Re: Foreign attorney taking the bar - advice much needed

Postby AspiringCALawyer » Mon Mar 12, 2018 3:11 am

barinthefuture wrote: Then I found out about California and was sure that with that licence I could practice federal law in Texas - I am thinking about immigration law.


This topic has been discussed on the board. I don't think there's a clear answer as to whether one can practice federal law in a jurisdiction where the person is not licensed. I suggest checking the Texas rules to be sure.

barinthefuture

New
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed Feb 28, 2018 11:15 am

Re: Foreign attorney taking the bar - advice much needed

Postby barinthefuture » Mon Mar 12, 2018 5:35 pm

Thanks again.

I checked Texas district courts and it seems that if I pass the bar in Texas, I would be able to get admitted here.

NYC, unfortunately, doesn't seem to be an option, cause I would need LLM anyway.

I know that California bar is going to be a hard one, but to be honest, I don't have much choice and in order to work here I need to take it;/
Keeping my fingers crossed for you, I am sure you will pass it!

b290

Bronze
Posts: 249
Joined: Mon Oct 23, 2017 5:28 pm

Re: Foreign attorney taking the bar - advice much needed

Postby b290 » Tue Mar 13, 2018 1:31 am

barinthefuture wrote:Thanks again.

I checked Texas district...

If you’re wondering whether there’s an option for you to just take a bar exam, with absolutely no exposure to US practice (via apprenticeship) or an LLM, it doesn’t exist. Even California doesn’t allow for the “remote option.”

In states where you don’t need law school, nor the LLM, you still need to be working under an attorney’s supervision. That automatically requires you to be based in that state. As you’re not Canadian nor Mexican, you also would need an H1B visa to work - the very visa our current President has targeted for elimination. Considering that he’s followed through on a lot of his threats, I wouldn’t count on its survival.

On top of that, unless you already have a job offer (which is a requirement for that visa), good luck trying to convince an attorney to hire you. An attorney’s not going to risk his/her license (since a boss is responsible for an employee’s actions while working) by hiring someone who’s had no experience with common law practice (it is very different from civil law practice). Even if the attorney would be willing to, the immigration requirements make it a non-starter. Even if that’s to be ignored, you’ll pay a heavy price. The H1B visa effectively gives the employer wide discretion, and you’re stuck where you’re at until he/she no longer needs you. If you don’t like it, you get deported - all your work was for nothing.

If you’re willing to go through all that trouble, you might as well get an LLM (or even a JD). You can get in on a student visa (which is much easier) if you want to move, or you can stay abroad until the you get the degree and take the exam. You at least get some exposure to American jurisprudence, and you won’t be stuck in one state. Many foreign-based attorneys take the LLM route because it’s much less time than the apprenticeship period. Some LLM programs don’t even require physical presence (done online).

The Federal courts leave it up to the individual districts as to who to admit. All of them require you to be licensed somewhere in the US; California just adds the additional requirement of being licensed in that state. The licensure requirements all go back to what I mentioned before - they all require either an a JD, LLM, or some physical presence via “reading” the law. Even where you are admitted pro hac vice (for that case), that’s for that one instance.

Finally, even if the “remote option” was available, as someone with no (American) law school (or LLM) degree, you’re basically at the same level as those attending unaccredited law schools. Their pass rates hover between 10-25 percent in California. Repeat takers consistently have lower pass rates. So it’s safe to presume that you likely wouldn’t pass even under that scenario.

Again, you need to figure out, where you want to practice and why. Even at that, you might as well get ready to come here or get an LLM (or a JD) before you take the bar exam. Those are your options.

(Your OP didn’t mentioned where you’re based, so I’m presuming you’re based in Europe. This also excludes practicing foreign law in the US, which of course doesn’t require a bar exam).

My $.02

b290

Bronze
Posts: 249
Joined: Mon Oct 23, 2017 5:28 pm

Re: Foreign attorney taking the bar - advice much needed

Postby b290 » Tue Mar 13, 2018 11:56 am

I just read that you’re based in Texas, so the immigration comments doesn’t apply :lol: In that case, as TX requires a JD (to my knowledge), you’ll have to move to a state that allows for apprenticeship, or get a degree before the exam. Those are your only options.

Clarification for the apprenticeship period. That’s usually several years - around four. The LLM program’s usually 1-2 years. Law school’s 2-4 years. Just in case you’re wondering. The fastest way for you to be an attorney would be the LLM route. The apprenticeship period seems the cheapest (for you), but it’s going to be a good while before you’re an attorney. You’ll still need to convince an attorney (or a company) to hire you.

We can’t edit posts anymore (I don’t think we can even delete them), consider this an addendum, and as a note to those abroad considering the same thing.

barinthefuture

New
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed Feb 28, 2018 11:15 am

Re: Foreign attorney taking the bar - advice much needed

Postby barinthefuture » Tue Mar 13, 2018 5:03 pm

@b290 thanks :)

I really appreciate every comment and yeah I know about the passing rate ;/
Yes I am from Europe and just moved to Texas (long story short - I had my own firm, my husband is American, so finally I moved here). Now I need to decide what to do next with my career.
Texas does allow foreign lawyers to take the bar if they have LLM - which right now seems like the best option, but it's soo extremely expensive. I passed one bar before and it was a nightmare, but it taught me that no matter what university or apprenticeship you finish, for the bar you simply need to sit down and study, study, study. Therefore I am trying hard to avoid spending so much on LLM, cause I know that at the end I will have to study everything on my own.

Texas has an option for foreign attorneys to practice but considering the country I come from I doubt I would find a job here.
Seems that I will have to spend thousands on LLM or look for a job at walmart lol ;/

b290

Bronze
Posts: 249
Joined: Mon Oct 23, 2017 5:28 pm

Re: Foreign attorney taking the bar - advice much needed

Postby b290 » Wed Mar 14, 2018 2:55 pm

barinthefuture wrote:@b290 thanks :)

...

I stand corrected on TX then! :) The LLM may be expensive, but it’ll get you practicing sooner. You’ll be able to make that money back. Also:

- I’m not sure if you’re working, but some larger (think corporate or government) employers pay for your education while working for them. (Ironically, Walmart is one of those employers :lol: )

- LLMs also are more flexible with class schedules. The presumption’s that you’re working, so the traditional law school schedule doesn’t apply.

- Law school (particularly the first year) has a harsh grading curve - the purpose is to weed out those that can’t make it. LLM professors presume you’re above that nonsense and cut out the BS. It’s much easier to get better grades.

- The LLM is much cheaper (due to its brevity)

A note on LLM tuition. If it’s for a “new career”, (basically working in any non-law field would qualify LLM tuition as “new career”) it’s not tax-deductible. That’s why I suggested the “employer paying your tuition” route. There are some exceptions, working at a law firm (maybe as a legal assistant), I would definitely get a tax attorney’s/CPA’s advice on that though.

Speaking of tax, have you thought about being a tax preparer? Many tax companies are looking for preparers - particularly during “busy season” (Jan-May) Also, you can use your experience in Tax law later (when you do get licensed), It is also steady income. Almost none of my classmates wanted to do it, which meant by default I wanted to :lol: Federal tax law also is largely federal (there’s state tax law, but unless you’re specifically asked to specialize in it at your firm, most to all of your work will be federal). But seriously, there’s an option.

The LLM financing options also apply to law school, although there are more scholarships and grants for that.

You’ll definitely have to study again, that’s unavoidable :lol: Hopefully Texas adopts the UBE so that you’ll only have to learn Oil & Gas in some separate state course :lol:

You can do it, it’ll just take a bit of strategic planning and determination (which is evident by your willingness to take - California :lol: :) )
Welcome and thanks for coming to our wonderful country! Enjoy your (hopefully life-long) stay! :D

My $.02

AspiringCALawyer

New
Posts: 96
Joined: Fri Mar 11, 2016 11:50 pm

Re: Foreign attorney taking the bar - advice much needed

Postby AspiringCALawyer » Thu Mar 15, 2018 4:20 am

b290 wrote:
barinthefuture wrote:@b290 thanks :)

...
A note on LLM tuition. If it’s for a “new career”, (basically working in any non-law field would qualify LLM tuition as “new career”) it’s not tax-deductible. That’s why I suggested the “employer paying your tuition” route. There are some exceptions, working at a law firm (maybe as a legal assistant), I would definitely get a tax attorney’s/CPA’s advice on that though.

Speaking of tax, have you thought about being a tax preparer? Many tax companies are looking for preparers - particularly during “busy season” (Jan-May) Also, you can use your experience in Tax law later (when you do get licensed), It is also steady income. Almost none of my classmates wanted to do it, which meant by default I wanted to :lol: Federal tax law also is largely federal (there’s state tax law, but unless you’re specifically asked to specialize in it at your firm, most to all of your work will be federal). But seriously, there’s an option.


Regarding deductibility of LLM tuition, effective this year (as part new tax law passed in December), unreimbursed employee business expenses (e.g., CLE and other classes), which are subject to 2% of your AGI and itemized on Schedule A of the 1040 will no longer be deductible. Thus, it's even more important to get your employer to pay for any legal education.

Regarding being a tax preparer, certain states require some type of licensing. For instance, in CA one has to be a CA CPA, CA attorney, enrolled agent or licensed by CTEC (requires a 60 hour accredited class) to prepare tax returns for money. These courses typically start in early fall so that the requirements are completed by the start of tax season in January. Also, "busy season" runs through mid-April.



Return to “Bar Exam Prep and Discussion Forum?

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: JDlaw17, johngotti and 26 guests