Today’s guest blogger is Sarah Eli Mattern. Sarah obtained a Juris Doctor degree from Florida A&M University College of Law. She is a licensed Florida attorney and the founder of “The Student Appeal” online law journal. Through The Student Appeal, Sarah discovered a passion for social media marketing and branding. She’s presented in webinars, conferences, and private group sessions. She consults with small businesses, lawyers, and law students to inspire them to use technology to promote themselves and their companies.
In addition to Sarah’s experience as an editor and business owner, she loves the rules of civil procedure and uses them every day in her work with Brevard County Legal Aid. Sarah is also active in the online legal community, you can follow her on twitter as @SarahEliMattern or follow her company @StudentAppeal.
Without further ado . . .
Working full time while studying for the bar, recommended? No. Possible? Yes.
There is a finite amount of time between the beginning of bar preparation and the bar exam. If 40ish hours a week of your time will already be dedicated to work, than the first step to passing the bar exam is efficient use of the rest of your time.
Here is some quick math:
24 hours in a day
-8 hours at work
-2 hours to prep and eat food
-7 hours of sleep
= 7 Remaining Hours a Day
Of course this rudimentary equation doesn’t include travel time, recreational activities, or distractions/emergencies. So, how do you maximize your remaining time?
“Play” Bar Prep Like You’re Playing Risk
There are a couple of counties every player would like to have in Risk*, Asia and Australia. Australia is basically impenetrable when you have sufficient troops there. Asia is the largest continent and gives the player holding it the most points.
Australia – Fortify, and move on.
These are the areas of law that you already know pretty well. Budget your limited time to brush up on these subjects as quickly as possible, but don’t spend time “relearning” things you know.
Asia – Capture the most important ground.
These are your bread and butter subjects – tested on almost every bar exam ever! Spend the time to learn these fully: contracts, property, torts (specifically negligence), etc. Since the majority of the exam consists of these concepts, the time you spend conquering them is well worth it.
Europe – Fighting on to many fronts weakens your overall position.
Let’s be honest, some areas of law are tricky for you. You might not understand the concepts, you might not have taken any relevant classes on the subject, or the law could just be very complex. Many bar takers focus on these areas; generally this is a strategic mistake.
You can easily waste valuable time trying to capture new ground, rather than strengthen the subjects where you can pick up a few additional points. For example, if you find corporations law confusing. You could sacrifice your time by learning that subject, forcing yourself to watch videos, read outlines, reread notes, contact professors for help with the concepts OR you could use that time to strengthen subjects you know something about already. In chess, this concept is called a sacrifice. A player strategically allows their opponent to kill one of their pieces, in hopes of strengthening their overall position.
Does this mean you shouldn’t look over corporations at all? Not at all. Read the outline, watch the video, or flash read a corporation’s law digest. But then, move on.
Still not convinced? One final thought: if this is an MBE subject, and you only kind of understand the law, you will probably choose the red herring answer on exam day anyway.
Winning at bar prep isn’t easy, but many people before you have done it. So strategize, and play the game right. If you have any questions on how best to prioritize your studying, leave a question in the comments or tweet me @SarahEliMattern!
*This article refers to Risk in its original old-school form, not the new fangled Risk 2210 AD.
Thank you Sarah!
Check out some of our other articles for more great study tips!
- Struggling with Anxiety? Call a Therapist!
- The Power of the Re-Write
- Bar Exam Study Tips: Lee’s Podcast with Dustin Saidii
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