So, you have taken the bar exam – congratulations! Enduring this long journey is an enormous win. Whichever jurisdiction you took the exam in, you studied long and hard for this moment, and it will pay off. But now, are you considering taking another bar exam? The question pops up in many examinees’ minds after they have conquered their first exam. Should I go ahead and take the bar exam closer to my family, for the future? I may want to start my dream practice there, should I just take another bar exam?
The question of whether to take a second bar exam is a personal investment, and one you must carefully consider before taking the plunge.
Is There a Smarter Way to Do This?
In the age of pandemic and remote bar examinations, there are smarter ways to become barred in more than one state. Reciprocity rules have changed extensively due to COVID-19. Some states have become stricter about what remote bar examinations would be considered in other states. Other states have become more lenient. If you have multiple jurisdictions in mind, it is important to consider updated reciprocity rules in those specific states.
Additionally, some states have an Admission on Motion without Examination policy. Research the admission requirements carefully for this option – there might be a possibility that you don’t even have to take a second bar exam in your preferred second state. Georgia, for example, has a list of 42 reciprocal jurisdictions for the purposes of Admission on Motion without Examination.
The other consideration is the Uniform Bar Examination (UBE), a test that is coordinated by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) and is transferable within participating jurisdictions because of its uniform administration and scoring practices. Now, there are 36 states that have adopted the UBE. If you had initially taken the bar exam in a UBE state and passed, then you may be in luck to have your score transferred. Alternatively, if you took a non-UBE exam for your first bar exam, then you may consider taking a UBE exam for the next one. Here’s Everything You Need to Know About the UBE.
Can You Do it All Over Again?
If you still decide you will take a second bar exam, then the most important consideration is your mental health and stamina – can you do it all over again? After the first bar exam, most examinees are exhausted and disoriented, physically and mentally. If you could direct a movie on the experience, it would be called: Confessions of a Bar Examinee – the Good, the Bad and the Ugly. It takes a lot of strength and will power to go through the motions of studying again. If you have it in you, then you must consider whether you want to take the bar exam immediately after the first one, or if you want to wait a year or more before taking the second one.
PRO: It’s Easier the 2nd Time Around
If you decide to take the next bar exam immediately after your first, then you have the advantage of having retained most of the information you already studied. Many test takers maintain that the bar is easier the second time around! You have already processed all the information, and you can only get better at application of the material the second time around. Alternatively, if you wait before taking the next exam, you may need to learn the material from scratch.
CON: Costs & Long Application Process
One of the biggest drawbacks of taking a second bar exam is the affiliated costs and the long application process. Bar exams are expensive, and the added deadlines of character and fitness applications could cause an applicant a lot of stress. Therefore, it is important to finance for a second bar exam and make sure the benefits of a second exam, for you, outweigh the expenses and added effort of applying.
PRO: Job Prospects, Increased Marketability
If you are looking for jobs or planning on transitioning to a new role, then having a second bar exam under your belt could be a huge advantage. Employers are always looking for candidates who are barred in the jurisdiction where their office is located. You could be a likely candidate if you are barred in that state before they give you an offer. Taking a second bar exam could increase your marketability, and that is something to consider.
CON: Balancing Work with Studying
No matter when you decide to take the exam, chances are, you won’t be able to devote full study days like you were able to the first time around. Even if you were not working while studying for your first exam, you likely will be working full-time for the second exam. It is extremely difficult to devote time to studying while also working to perform well in your day job. The answer could be in timing: maybe you extend your study time for the bar over the course of the year if it means you can comfortably devote a few hours a week. Check out: How to Get Motivated to Take a Second State’s Bar Exam for tips and tricks for how to proceed once you have made a decision. Whatever the answer is, it will be a decision that is unique to you!