Friday, December 5, 2008

Something to ponder for those who ...

... have less than kind things to say about "Distance Learning Schools". From the California Bar Journal, Studying the Law - Anywhere

One interesting paragraph ...

"While the California bar exam pass rates of online-only schools vary, they still fall below those of California's ABA-approved schools. However, some compare to or even surpass those of non-ABA-approved, California-accredited law schools. A recent State Bar study found that the eventual pass rate – the percentage of candidates who passed the bar within six attempts – was 88.2 percent at California's ABA-approved law schools, 49.2 percent at California-accredited schools (ranging from 25 percent to 69 percent by school), 56.5 percent at unaccredited correspondence schools and 50.8 percent at unaccredited distance learning schools. Concord's eventual pass rate was 55 percent, while Northwestern's rate was 42 percent."

The school I graduated from is exactly like Concord, but different. (;-)>


Anonymous said...

I think the sooner one stops thinking about what law school they went to the better. If a school has a 49% pass rate, that doesn't mean YOU have a 49% pass rate.

There is no pass rate or a specific % chance attributable to you individually. If that black cloud is hanging over your head get rid of it! You are in control of your own destiny.

Forget about law school, forget about bar stats on repeaters, focus on one thing: passing the bar. Get it done!

Distance Law said...

Hi GP,

I do have one tip for those getting their JD through correspondence. About every six months spend the $15 or so to have the school send an official transcript to the State Bar. Just ask any former student of Saratoga University School of Law.


No Hard Feelings said...

GP: Are you kidding me, man? I hope your post is not directed toward my post, in which i said that people that went to distance school should get their money back.
6 times??? What a rip off! What you are really saying by that is for a 3 years a person does nothing but study for the CBX. He/she does not work ( or works part time, making peanuts), he/she drops about a grand on the bar registration, fees, lodging, food and gas- getting to the center. Then a week of missed work - settling in on Monday, taking the test on Tu, Wen and Thur, and debriefing on Friday.
But I see your point- out of the schools what scrape the bottom, correspondence is not too bad.
P.S. It is no way, of course indicative on the person who could presumably be a good lawyer, once he/she gets the ticket. It's a commentary on the rip-off schools.

No Hard Feelings said...

Oh, and i almost forgot : There is not way, no way, no way a non-ABA grad will ever, ever, ever get a job at big law.

Anonymous said...

"There is no way a non-ABA grad will ever get a job at big law."

Because, of course, that's what every lawyer wants to do. :\

-ABA grad who chose not to get a job in big law and is much happier for it

Anonymous said...

GP - No more distance learning for you! It's not working! You need a really good tutor to get in your face and rip your essays to shreds and explain what you're doing right and wrong. After failing the bar for the third time, you've written on this blog that "[you] need to practice more essays." Well, you've been writing many practice essays for several years, and your hours of practice have netted you a disappointing average of 550 on the latest bar exam. (What were your highs and lows on the essays? You didn't post that information. I'm not complaining; that's your prerogative to post what you want.) Anyway, you can practice all the essays you want the same way you've been doing it and you'll likely still fail. Your essay writing needs a total overhaul, particularly if it indeed is true that you "know the law."

(BTW, I'm not convinced you do know the law or at least know the bar law well enough to apply it in the heat of the moment during an exam. Since you've taken the MBE several times and are likely comfortable with the format and approach, I think you should be scoring above a 135 raw if you truly "know the law.)

As for the essays, figure out who's the best tutor, hire him or her, meet that person face to face, and have him or her get you on the right track with essay writing.

Yes, practice more essays. But practice them in a smarter manner -- for your sake. It's nice and all that folks in the blogosphere heap compliments on you for being an inspirational, lovable loser, but you've got to become a prize-fighter. You've got to win the title and shut this blog down.

Anonymous said...


Talk about tough love...

I agree with the prior poster in most respects but I think you would be a fool to shut down the blog. This is part of your experience and it is not like you have to commit a huge amount of time. One post per month won't hurt your study time.

I think you are going to make it GP, but you need to step it up ANOTHER notch. Forget defending your school. At this point, where you went to school has NOTHING to do with you passing or not passing the bar.

Hell, Berkeley grads passed the bar at 82% July of 2007 while Whittier grads passed at a rate of 85% in July of 2008.

So, if you take the bar exam for the first time in July of 2009, does that mean that if you graduated from Whittier in July of 2008 you would have a better chance of passing the bar on your first attempt than someone who graduated from Berkeley in 2007? According to the logic of some of the morons who taunt you here, the answer is yes.

Don't waste your mental energy on them. You know what you need to do.

No Hard Feelings said...

To Anon 12:29 - No not every lawyer wants to get a job at big law. The difference is that a Boalt Hall or UCLA grad has a chance of getting into big law, while Concord doesn't.
My school mate got into a firm similar to mime, with a 160K and a 24K signing bonus.
Now, i know what you are going to say : Not everyone wants to make big $-true- but try telling that to yourself while working a 40K job and paying back student loans.

To Annon 10:02- I said int once and I'll say it again. Yes, there is a way to tell a non-ABA candidate from ABA.

Anonymous said...

Most people I graduated with from Concord Law School didn't want a biglaw job. They already had successful careers, and were there to earm their law degree and enhance what they already had going for them. And yes, most of them have passed the Bar exam, many on their first or second try. Some of us are still fighting and not giving GP and me.

Anonymous said...

I spent about 40K total, and passed the bar the first time, as compared to 200-300K people paid to attend an ABA school. I would certainly be upset to discover I over paid for something by 160-260K.

The only reasaon the ABA schools have such a high pass rate is because they have strict admission requirements, while non-ABA schools do not. I would not be suprised to discover that the bar pass rate for those accepted to a top school is the same for those who graduate, although I doubt any ABA would have the guts to publish that.

As for working in "Big Law". Who would want to work in a law frim that treats its employees like garbage? Well, me for one, as long as I'm running the firm!

Going to an ABA school has nothing to do with passing the bar, or being a good lawyer. Being smart and hard working is what does it.

James said...

gp, the last sentence of your quoted passage reads, "Concord's eventual pass rate was 55 percent, while Northwestern's rate was 42 percent."

just to clarify, the Northwestern referred to in the article is Northwestern California University School of Law and not the "other" Northwestern.

in preparing for the bar, how many essays per subject did you actually write out? how many did you outline? how many did you get graded/looked at by someone other than yourself?

i failed the bar 3 times before i finally passed this july. for my first attempt, i only wrote out 1 essay per subject and outlined maybe one or two more (yeah, i was pretty cocky about passing). for my second and third attempt, i wrote out maybe two and outlined a bunch. this time, i fully wrote out 2-3 essays per subject AND got feedback on those essays. i'm not at all convinced you need to hire an expensive tutor to read your essays, but have someone (maybe a study partner?) read it and compare it to a model answer. this really helped me realize things i sucked at and things i was doing well. this process made me realize that i could not read my own essays objectively enough to improve my writing.

also, i was missing issues because my outlines didn't work for me--they were actually working against me as i wasted time in making something i didn't even use. during the bar, i would write out an outline and often times, i never looked at it again. creating a working outline sounds simple, but it wasn't simple for me.

as far as adaptibar is concerned, the questions are previously released questions and the program categorizes it so you can see what area you need to improve on. theoretically it's useful to know this info, but i'm not convinced it is as good or better than working through the pmbr questions. it probably won't hurt you to use it, but i would recommend the pmbr questions.

Douglas said...

GP I'm there with you on many fronts - DL law school graduate and taking the Barzam for the second time in February. (Missed by 27 scaled points with a 140 Raw MBE thanks to adaptibar).

After passing the BB the first shot I felt I was in the ball game - and missing by that close I was. I'm addressing my errors and won't make them again.

I don't spend a lot of time defending DL law schools because I learned during other DL programs I have taken its not the "school" as much as it is the work I do that matters most.

Hell, I attended lectures and workshops at ABA law schools all over California, Alabama and even New York while I was in law school. I also supplemented my schoolwork with each and every one of the Fleming's subject review lectures (live for the most part) so my "school" was rather something more than DL.

But I have to object to the comment that no one with a DL degree get a job at Big Law.

You see, I worked there already. MoFo, Foley & Lardner, Lyon & Lyon, Moscone and his crew, Otis & Hogan, even Big Corporate Law like Agaron Pharm, ValueOptions, and some hotel & restaurants as well.

I of course was a mere paralegal (mostly covering the asses of the new hire ABA grads) but I have received offers to come back to Big Law if I wanted to.

I don't want to. I'm debt free and I happen to love the law for helping people not for billing hours.

So my small little Scottsdale firm is just right for me and I've nearly forgotten how to update my resume.

ANyway - keep up the fight - do not go gentle into that good night !!

Anonymous said...

I share your frustration, GP. I, too, failed in July 2008. It was my 3rd attempt.

When I first took the bar in July 2007, I prepared for it by purchasing reading materials which came with an IPOD containing lectures. I am a foreign attorney and since I was new here in CA, I was still scrimping on my savings. The materials I purchased contained practice tests for the essays, PT's and MBE. I didn't really study that much. Maybe, 4 hours a day. I would rest on Sundays. I scored a 1356 in July '07. I got 126 on the MBE. If it was any consolation for me, my papers were read twice. I actually had a score of 1393 after the first read. My raw written was 575.

I next decided to take a bar review course in preparation for Feb 2008. The course ran for 13 weeks from Dec 2007 up to Feb 2007. My instructor was giving me already 75's up to 90's in my practice essays. I felt I can pass this time. Unfortunately, my score only slightly improved in Feb 2008. I got 1360 but my essays were read only once though. My raw written was 585. I got 129 on the MBE, a 3-point improvement. Personally, I felt I was too scholarly when I wrote my essays in Feb 2008 and I suppose that's not what the graders want to see.

I decided I'd take it again in July 2008. A friend of mine who passed Feb 2008 which was his 3rd suggested Adachi's Bar Breaker books for the essays. I took his advice and all I did was practice the essays in the book. I didn't get to do all of them though. I concentrated, however, on my weaker subjects - Comm Prop, Civ Pro, Property, Business Associations and Ethics. I practised with about 1000 MBE questions. I had absolutely no practices for the PT's. Lo and behold! Although I didn't pass, I got a score of 1427, actually 1437.23 after my first read. I got 136 on the MBE, a 7-pt improvement. I got a 65 and 60 on the PT's even though I didn't practice at all. I got a raw written of 595 on my essays on the first read which became 590 after the second read.

What did this experience teach me? For the essays, use IRAC, common sense, simple and concise language. I was counting my words during the essays and I made sure they'd be at least 500 words but not more than 800 words. For the PT's, maybe a little more say, 900 to 1200 words.

I hope I was helpful.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree that it certainly helps graders when we write using simple and concise language.

But there is no magic word count to passing.

Greg said...

From Anonymous@11:36: I was counting my words during the essays and I made sure they'd be at least 500 words but not more than 800 words. For the PT's, maybe a little more say, 900 to 1200 words.

There are no pat answers, but limiting word count almost necessarily limits analysis, and that's something to avoid at all costs.

On the PTs, especially, you're often asked to draw out lots of facts and rules, making it obvious that you're using the materials provided. An easy counter to the advice to limit PTs to such a miniscule number of words can be found by looking at recent PTs. Look at February 2008's selected answers.

By my count:

PT A answer 1: 2657 words
PT A answer 2: 2453 words
PT B answer 1: 4071 words
PT B answer 2: 4863 words

The PTs, especially, are not the place to scrimp on words.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I agree that we shouldn't devote much effort to counting words. (I am the 500-800 word guy). It's just that my Feb 2008 essays were 1000 to 1500 words each and I didn't pass. As for the PT's, we should still try to be concise. My PT's before July 2008 were much longer but I performed best in July 2008.

Hey, do you trust those selected answers released by the State Bar of CA? Sometimes, I am tempted to think that they are throwing us on a wild goose chase but I'd rather not.

Good luck to all February 2009 takers!

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to know how your studies were coming along? I don't know if you are have discussed this already but I have heard from Bar Passers, BarBri, PMBR and LECC that the February bar is statistically better for repeat takers. So this is definitely your time!

Unfortunately for me, my scores in February was 62.5, 65, 82.5, 55, 65, 75 PT 75 and 65. The total was 1523 raw. BUT my MBE's was an even better score; I got an 89. THAT IS 89 OUR OF 200 QUESTIONS! I might as well have picked 'C" for every darn question. I didn't pass (obviously!).

But I did pass this July bar. I worked on my MBEs and since they are your strong suit, you are very lucky. I changed my study habit and did one question at a time. I saw the pattern and the concept. I know it worked because I have crossed over to the "dark side."

I know you can too! Sending good thoughts!
-Proud to be a repeater

Anonymous said...

Hi, Maybe this isn't the forum for this, but I thought it might since it is related to all things bar. Did anyone ever figure out a good study/life balance? I'm a repeater, and my boyfriend and I are not thrilled with the idea of becoming strangers again. I feel sad and bitter about declining the few invites we've received so far for Jan and Feb. I already miss my life even just thinking about the next 2.5 months. Blah!! I just want to complain. Thanks for providing a forum. :)


Anonymous said...

To this poster: "I got an 89. THAT IS 89 OUR OF 200 QUESTIONS! "

First, congratualations on passing!

Your Feb written scores were outstanding. Can you explain your Essay/PT approach? Did you feel you knew the law well (despite the mbe score) or are your writing skills exceptional (regardless of rule knowledge). You could be of great help to those of us who are doing well on the mbe's, but can't seem to bring up our essay scores. Do you have a strategy, template, supplement suggestion? Any insight would be greatly appreciated.

A Repeater

kris said...

NHF was probably the kid who was given endless swirleys, wedgies and pantsings to the day he finished high school for being a smuggy little twerp- and now he's made it his mission in life to pay us all back.

NHF, if you're genuinely concerned that we're all wasting our lives not being you, why don't you spend some of your big law pro bono time warning high school and college kids that the profession is flooded.

What's irritating is you insist on telling people who've already made the biggest financial and emotional investment of their lives that they shouldn't even bother.

Sorry, and you are? Some little squit in year one of living the dream of being a "big law" dogsbody?

My destiny is in MY hands, NHF. Not yours. You should be saluting the people here who've refused to give up and who keep standing up.

People admire character - not smart asses.

Anonymous said...

As a past CBX grader, I looked for very specific things, in deciding, whether I should pass an exam: 1)state the issue on a single line, 2)state the rule in plain English,no more than two lines, 3)explain why the rule applies to the facts, no more than four lines and lastly, 4)always tie the previous 3 to a one line conclusion.

If you are writing more than 8 lines per issue on any given exam question, chances are high, that you have put the reader to sleep or better yet in a coma. That is how you pass the written portion of the exam. Same concept applies to the PT.

Hang in there people, you will eventually get it right. Chin up now.

Past CBX Grader

Anonymous said...

I am the person who received a whopping 89 on the MBE's. I can honestly say that I did know each concept of the law. I had the "big picture" and had a mental check list for each subject. Instead of praying that remedies wouldn't be on the exam, I read every essay from BarPassers, BarBri, and BarSecrets on Remedies. When the essay number 4 asked for Provisional remedies I know right away I would be writing about TRO and Preliminary injunctions because I had already written one. Also, the essays are written by professors that would apply the law correctly and succinctly. The bar release answers for the most part weren't always right.

My writing style was simplistic, as if I was telling my 5 year old. I made up my own blurbs for different subjects and simply massage the facts into it. I also used EVERY FACT that was given. I highlighted the sentence after each use so that if there was a fact missing it would stand out. As tedious as it sounds, I know it made a big difference. I also believe in outlining each questions and write one or two words of facts under each piece of law.

Lastly, I also wrote lots of essays. I know that some bar courses do not suggest it but, I wanted to feel as comfortable as possible when it came time to the exam. I had someone read my essays and see if they understood it and cf. if with one of those commercial bar review courses.

I have extreme test anxiety and if I didn't have these three checks I wouldn't be able to write concisely. I hope this helps.

No Hard Feelings said...

Kris: you know nothing about me. If it make you feel better you may imagine that I was some kind of geek in high school. I mean, you can imagine I'm a king of egypt.
The truth is I couldn't care less whether you become a lawyer or not. Listen a little more carefully and pehaps you will learn something. If you quit your 60k a year job and joined a online law school it is unlikely that you first job will match what you were making before. Not to mention law school money and time you wasted preparing for the bar.
Now I know you are a biglaw hater, but only big law is making a 168k to start with a30k signing bonus ( last years paystubs)

Anonymous said...

Quick question to the person with the 89 MBE score. How did you find out your scores if you passed? I thought they only sent back scores on those that did not pass. Was this in CA?

Anonymous said...

I think I misunderstood you up there and likely answered my own question. Maybe you got a 1424 in February and passed in July (A 1524 raw point score would be a pass.)

kris said...


Wake up, muppet. I already am a lawyer - and already done the "big law" game.

So what is it exactly you propose to school me on?

As for "knowing you" - believe me, I've seen enough.

Anonymous said...

NHF - Grow up

Kris - Don't waste your breath

When I got my license to practice law, I was like a small king – Awed with the power that the license came with. Understandably, it happens to most people. Point is – not worth bickering about what is not necessary to lose sleep on.