Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Thing About Bar Exam Tutors ...

... is that they are all teaching the same thing. What differentiates them are the quality of their study material, how they present the subject matter, and how they motivate you to prepare.

The thing is, by the time we graduate from law school we all have a pretty good grasp of the limited body of knowledge required to pass the bar exam. Because of this universal fact, the value offered by the various bar exam preparation programs comes down to how we relate to the personality and style of the person doing the tutoring. Sometimes the tutor is the person whose name is on the front door; other times the person doing the tutoring (read, motivating) is a hired gun who can present the material in a more interesting or thorough fashion.

In large part (ihmo), the degree to which you will benefit from a particular bar prep program depends on whether, and how much, you like the person doing the tutoring. It's very similar to the times in school when you really liked a particular Professor and didn't like another. You usually performed better for the Prof you liked than for the one you didn't. Sure, sometimes you were just more interested in the subject (e.g., Crim Law v. Property). But usually, your desire and ability to do well was influenced more by the medium than by the message.

Bar Prep programs are the same. Assuming all other things are equal (our grasp of the material, our desire to pass the bar exam, our ability to retain the information, lack of other disruptions/distractions in our personal lives) the key is the relationship, if you will, between the tutor and the pupil.

So, if you're looking for a tutor, you should find someone you can relate to and who can relate to you. It's a buyer's market out there. Don't commit to a particular program just because the person on the other end of the phone insists that there are a limited number of seats in their program and, hey, you're in luck because they just had a cancellation. Take some time and make a calm rational decision. Talk with the person you'll be interacting with. If something doesn't feel right, move along.

There are lots (and lots) of people in the Bar Prep business. Some of them rely only on your determination to pass the exam so you can get your license and start working. They know that you're going to pass no matter who takes your money. All they have to do is stand in front of the room and read an outline. In one program I sat through, the guest lecturer said "No questions please, I've only got 90 minutes to get through all of Civil Procedure, and that includes a 15 minute break." Unfortunately for us, the 90 minutes also included correcting the errors in the material issued to us by the author of the program 30 days prior. These people tend to inflate their image and often brag about very high, and unverifiable, pass rates.

Other tutors care about your plight and know that their future income depends on your success. They're excited, energetic, and genuinely interested in you and in your progress. Take the time to find these people. Make a few phone calls or go sit with them and talk about their program. If you do that, you'll be much more likely to have a positive Bar Prep experience, and you'll greatly increase your chances of receiving good new in November (or May).


Anonymous said...

As a multi-repeater who finally passed the CBX, I agree with finding a tutor you feel comfortable around. The ax I still have to grind is this - I think the State Bar should provide warnings/caveats about tutors. Anybody could claim to have been a bar grader - but is it verifiable? A lot of tutors make pretty astounding claims about what you need to pass the bar and that they can "magically" lead you into passing territory.

The first tutor I ever used had mediocre outlines at best, and a month before the exam said - "I don't have materials or an approach to the PTs. Just treat it like a writing assignment. Look at a bunch of them and it'll be obvious." Yea, that worked real well.

I found the best tutors to be associated with programs that included solid lectures, lots of q&a time - and were frankly geared towards repeaters. IMHO repeaters have taken a hit to their confidence and really need practical advice as to bar study habits, memorization techniques, and above all else repetition exercises to grasp the style rquired in all bar answers. Look for substantive materials that make sense to you!

I also think those of us who've had negative tutor experiences should have the balls to report poor tutors to the bar - the bad eggs I dealt with were almost always in violation of a few ethics rules. You can be assured that the bar might be more prone to act since it's likely the same names would come up again and again.

Just sayin'....

Anonymous said...

I agree!

I spent lots of money at "Bar with Bobby." I paid over $6000! He was such a salesman. He didn't have his own materials and used barbri's outlines and sadly enough, he did not even know the law! He stated he was a bar grader but in reality "he knew people who graded for the bar!"

He wouldn't give me a refund after I found out!

Bar with Bobby is owned by a Persian man who has no remorse soliciting through the persian radio.

I passed but not because of this very lousy bar review course.

Anonymous said...

The problem with reporting bad tutors is that the tutor must have done something obviously in breach of their contract to teach you the skills you'll need to pass the bar exam. If that happened, and there was an express agreement that the tutor would cover "MBE's, PT's and essays" in detaill when you signed up and they fail to do that, it is hard to make a complaint based on subjective complaints of ineffectiveness or failed expectations. I have heard complaints from students about well known tutors, most notably Steve Liosi seems to attract students who think he's great and those who think he doesn't do much and was not a good tutor. How would the state bar handle these? I'm not saying one should keep quiet about a tutor who is clearly incompetent, but then it's partially the student's responsibility to investigate a tutor and get references before paying out lots of money, especially if that tutor is not well known... That's why it's so important to get good references from other students you know and whose judgment and opinion you trust. References from strangers are of limited value. It's buyer beware in bar exam tutoring either before you pay, or after. Your choice...

Anonymous said...

Hi - I agree with the immediately prior post. I posted the first comment. As a repeater who felt "desperate" to pass I failed to do much of what was needed to vet tutors. That said, the final tutor I used (when I passed) was the only tutor out of 3 who used a written contract when I engaged his services. Nothing like having something in writing that we each signed.

I don't think the bar needs engage in any draconian measures - but with all the information about the administration of each exam on the bar website, a warning about tutors couldn't hurt. You realize that once you pass any of us could be a tutor? The thought of raking in several thousands dollars for not much work has a certain appeal, but it wouldn't make any of us great tutors.

Anonymous said...

To GP:

I have to say, after reading your advice, that you express yourself so well. I am so disappointed that you failed the bar the few times you took it. I bet it's b/c you are getting nervous or something and NOT b/c of your writing style.

After all, even though the bar requires to write in a certain format
IRAC but the analysis is that of expressing your thoughts as to the issue presented. As I see from your post that you do that so well. Maybe that is what you need to pass..... I don't know something to think about.
For all you know, you passed this july, I hope you did ...
good luck!

Anonymous said...

Can people FEEL it whether they passed or NOT?

Some people say that they had known all along that they will pass. Is there such thing? I cannot feel anything!

GP: what are your gut feelings this time?
After the past adminstrations, did you feel that you passed or fail? be honest!
All others please provide your constructive comments. thanks.
I know I'm getting really nervous.

Anonymous said...

I feel good about my performance on the exam, but whether it was "good enough" to make 1440 points is a whole other matter!

I do not have a "feeling" about whether I passed or not. It's possible I passed and possible I fell short on points needed.

I am looking at the results as more of a continuum. Although the results are either: Pass or Fail, if the result is the latter, I'd look forward to getting my score card to see what my point total is. It would be my "Silver" medal if my final score is between 1400-1439, because I know how many points I'll need to pass in February.

Good luck to everyone waiting for results!

Anonymous said...

I got 1427 in feb 09, i never thought of it as a "silver" medal. I took July 09 and I'm seriously terrified from the resutls.

I feel I did better than feb 09 but I'm not sure if better was enough to make the cut. I am praying that it was.

The Grand Poobah said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Grand Poobah said...

Anon 7:24: The two comments after yours pretty much sum up my feelings. I (believe) I spotted enough issues to pass. The question is whether I presented them properly. And the answer to that question will be revealed in 24 days.

[I edited this answer to add the word "believe" to my comment about spotting enough issues. - GP]

Anonymous said...

IMHO it is impossible to guesstimate your upcoming score on the exam. The subjective mind-set of the present reader of the essays and the performance tests will vary drastically from one administration to another.

I have taken and am currently waiting for the results of my THIRD attempt at this exam.

My February 2008 scores were:


My July 2008 scores were:


In summary, I have dropped off by a 5.29% on my essays, dropped off by 4.00% on my perfromance tests and increased my score by 4.30% on my MBE's.

Really hoping that this time around, I will have no numbers available to me, to compare to my previous two attempts.

Be patient everyone, there really is no sense in stressing at this point in time, the universe will reward you with the scores that you have earned and that you trully deserve.


kris said...

I've just had a look at "Bar With Bobby"

Come on. The man looks like a tool. His website confirms it.

I want people who are completely upfront about what they're offering and how much it will cost. If you can't do that, you are a schyster.

I doubt the CA Bar Association would be very interested in rogue tutors as they are not providing a legal service as an attorney - they are unregulated tutors offering, erm tution in how to pass a Bar.

Mind you, anon - you DID pass. Maybe Bobby taught you something but you didn't like his style?

Anonymous said...

To Anon of October 25
"Can people FEEL it whether they passed or NOT?"

When I walked out, I did not feel either way. Even on the day of results, I still had no idea. The result: I passed.

On the other hand, after my first time, I felt confident that I passed. Result: fail.

From what a lot of people tell me, the "I have no idea" is a good indicator.

Anonymous said...

Oh this "feeling" of whether you passed/failed is indicative of nothing in my book - with the exception that a few of my friends who were first-time passers felt like everything fell into place. They also mastered IRAC earlier in law school than some of my other classmates....

Anonymous said...

After reading the comments I doubt very much that the State Bar would have much interest in investigating this Bar With Bobby fellow. As the other posters have mentioned, there is probably no jurisdiction because the practice of law is not involved.

However, BarBri would be very interested to know that this individual is ripping off their copyrighted materials, and charging $6,000 to boot. Doing so is almost certainly a violation of the agreement that "Bobby" entered into back when he took the course. I am not going to go into the irony and hypocrisy of a bar tutor denigrating BarBri when he/she took the course and obtained a succesful result. Needless to say, if someone really wanted to F this guy over, all they would need to do is give BarBri a call...

Anonymous said...

The first two times I took it I felt pretty good. Obviously, I was wrong. The problem was that I didn't know what I didn't know! Ignorance was bliss and I talked myself into thinking I passed. The third time I took it I felt totally different--in a good way. I honestly felt that if my third attempt wasn't good enough, I wasn't sure I'd ever be able to pass it because I came away from it feeling like I "left it all on the table" and probably couldn't do any better. Third time was a charm for me. Good luck all!

Anonymous said...

Anon 5:11, loads of people hijack BarBri's method. Look at Tina (won't mentioned her last name) in LA. She worked for BarBri and openly talks about how she developed her method of essay and PTs while working for them. Now she charges THOUSANDS of dollars tutoring folks and giving seminars on the weekends--and her workshops are packed. She's one of the hottest tickets in Southern CA and BarBri knows it.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the above about BarBri not really caring. Lots of people take their course and still hire a tutor (myself included).

BarBri's outlines of course are standard, but any of us who've made it thru law school theoretically could have come up with great outlines based on our casebooks. Not that I did mind you.

Anonymous said...

Tina does not depend on Barbri's materials. Bar with Bobby solely uses Barbri's outlines, notes and testing materials.

He is a fraud.

Anonymous said...

10 more days!

Anonymous said...

Used One-Timers with Tolerico and failed. Could use my money back. Heard Tina Post is the only high end tutor to use from multiple sources