Bar Exam?!?

As graduation looms on the horizon, my mind has begun to drift to the bar exam which I plan to take this summer.  It is a bit frightening that the bar exam is even a topic 3Ls are kicking around these days.  It seems that only last month that we were 1Ls preparing for our first ever law school exam: Torts.  (Another benefit of the co-op program: alternating between quarters in school and quarters on co-op tends to make time fly!)

I came across some interesting information recently, so I thought I would share.  The bar exam consists of two days of testing.  One day is a multi-state multiple-choice exam that is standard for test takers across all jurisdictions.  The second day is a state-specific essay exam.  This is common knowledge.  What is not so often publicized to 1Ls or pre-law schoolers is the subject matter tested on the bar exam.  I found it interesting that there are relatively few topics that the bar exam covers.  On the multiple-choice portion of the exam, the only topics covered are torts, contracts, evidence, constitutional law, criminal law/procedure, and real property.  The state specific essay exams often test a few additional topics such as corporations, secured transactions, and civil procedure (note: these testing topics vary from state to state).

I find it surprising how few classes are required in preparation for the bar exam.  By the time you graduate from NUSL, you will have enrolled in 8 classes as a 1L and 16 classes as an upper level student.  Most first year classes are topics covered on the bar exam: torts, contracts, constitutional law, civil procedure, criminal justice, and real property.  But upper level classes are a different story altogether.  The majority of classes you can take as an upper level student will be topics that are not tested on the bar exam. Out of approximately 24 total classes you will take by the time you graduate, more than 14 of those classes will be non-bar exam subjects.  This provides you with great flexibility to shape your own curriculum during your tenure at NUSL.

Despite the popular myth that Evidence is a curriculum requirement at NUSL, an upper level law student is not required to take any specific class, including those that are tested on the bar exam.  That said, I have found bar-exam classes like Evidence, Corporations, and Trusts & Estates to be some of the most interesting and useful classes for life on co-op.

If you have any questions about the various types of classes I have taken while at Northeastern, please don’t hesitate to drop me a line.

Update on my Co-op Experience at NUSL

Hi all-

I wrote this piece a few months back and it somehow got lost on its way to being posted.  Look for another update on my 3L year in the next few days. Happy Thanksgiving to you all. Safe travels for those hitting the roads or airports.

August 2011:

“As promised in my first post, here is an update on my coop experiences thus far at Northeastern.  On Friday, I finished my third coop as a summer associate at a big firm in Boston.  The summer associate program seemed short and the coop was over before I could blink.  Looking back on my experiences at the firm, there were many highlights: the opportunity to serve as a witness in a will-signing ceremony, observing a federal district court sentencing hearing, and working directly with a pro-bono non-profit client on a tax matter.

One of the benefits of spending a coop at a big, general practice firm is the ability to get a variety of experiences in several areas of the law. I have found after 2 years of law school that there is a very strong emphasis on litigation both in and out of the classroom.  However, my most recent stint at this big law firm provided a unique opportunity to get transactional experience, which is unlike any traditional litigation matter.  The firm I spent the summer with has a strong corporate legal department with established private equity and business & technology practice groups that place a strong emphasis on mergers & acquisitions.  The opportunity to see and understand what a corporate attorney does for a living is something I highly recommend to anyone who is unsure if litigation is your true calling.  Corporate law requires a great deal of creativity, attention to detail, and collaborative mindset. If I just described your attitude in life, you might love transactional work!

I am coming off of back-to-back coops.  This spring, I worked at a boutique labor and employment firm in Boston.  As mentioned in my first post, my background is in labor relations.  During my second coop, I was able to put some of my pre-NUSL experiences to good use.  Employment law certainly has a great deal of litigation focus.  However, I found that quite often, the firm’s role was to provide advice and counseling for their clients (employers) in order to prevent litigation.  Much like the transactional work in a corporate practice, collective bargaining negotiations, arbitrations or mediations provide a somewhat unique avenue for putting a JD to good use.

The real advantage to Northeastern’s Coop model is the opportunity to take a class, such as employment law, and then apply for a coop in that field if you find the class interesting.  The goal—for those of you who may be uncertain about what area of the law is right for you—can be for you to narrow down your options to the one or two areas of the law that truly grab your attention before you graduate.”

Welcome

It is an honor to be part of the NUSL blogging team. I hope to share various insights and experiences with prospective law students. When I think back to the time I made the decision to attend law school at Northeastern, I remember experiencing some anxiety as to whether I was making the right decision to leave the workforce and return to school. In large part, this anxiety was because I had made my decision not based on objective facts, statistics or information, but largely on my “gut instinct.” I am now a 3L at Northeastern. I have been happy with my decision thus far. However, relying on my “gut instinct” instead of making the decision based on objective facts and information is likely not the best idea for all. Thus, my goal, in part, of writing this blog is to help readers who are in similar positions as I was a few years ago to get a better understanding of the “whole picture” before they decide to embark on what can be a very rewarding experience as a law student at Northeastern University School of Law.

By way of background, I grew up in Natick, a suburb 20 miles west of Boston. I attended Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. I majored in Industrial and Labor Relations. My undergraduate degree provided me with a unique blend of a traditional liberal arts education while providing expertise in the labor-management field with a business and pre-law focus. Although I had a number of opportunities to learn about various aspects of labor and employment law while studying at Cornell, I was still uncertain whether law school was the logical next step for me.

Instead of jumping right into law school, I decided to apply my labor experience as labor relations professional. I spent two years working full-time for a Fortune 100 engineering and technology corporation. By 2008, the economic recession hit hard. Like many others who go on to graduate school, I was under the impression that school is a safe-haven from the cyclical nature of our economy. At the time, I did not realize how much change the legal profession was experiencing as a result of the pressure applied by struggling businesses across the country and world. I will discuss some of these changes in future posts.

Somewhat in the dark as to all of the developments mentioned, I moved forward with my applications to law schools. I remember finding it very hard to differentiate between other law schools as I would peruse websites, embark on guided tours, and read various law school ranking books. I was attracted to Northeastern largely because of its Co-op program.

The Northeastern Cooperative Educational Program is a unique approach to legal education that emphasizes practical experience to support the traditional classroom learning. For me, the opportunity to spend four 11-week internships is the perfect way to identify what area of law I am most interested in pursuing after graduation. Also, these four “coops” can serve as 3-month job interviews with prospective employers who have a demonstrated commitment to Northeastern graduates. What better way to get your foot in the door at an employer?

Currently, I am on my third coop at a large, general practice firm in Boston. I have only been with the firm a few days, but it has been an excellent learning experience thus far.

In my next post, I will share more of my experiences in my current coop as well as tell you a bit about where I have been in my previous two coops. Enjoy the good weather (finally) and the start of what should be a fantastic summer.