Updated for 2016: Registering with the State Bar of California

The cost to register as a law student with the State Bar of California is $113.  Click HERE to register.

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2016 MPRE Dates & Deadlines

Click HERE for the link.

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Updated for 2016: Summary of Costs Associated with Bar Admissions

$113: Register with State Bar
$84: MPRE
$25: Fingerprinting (approximate)
$525: Moral Character App
$645: Register for Bar Exam
$146: Laptop Fee (optional: can handwrite)
$600: Hotel & Meals (approximate)


???: Bar Review Course
???: Living Expenses? (summer rent/utilities/food, etc.)

* Funding options include:
1. Starting early and budgeting;
2. Working (although this is VERY difficult to do while studying for the bar and not advisable)
3. Family
4. Bar loans

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Updated for 2016: Moral Character Application

The Moral Character Application reportedly takes a minimum of six months to process. It is advised to submit the application eight to ten months prior to when you plan to be sworn in. Since bar results for summer bar exam takers arrive in November, you should submit the Moral Character Application in January at the latest.

Once approved, a positive moral character determination is valid for three years (there is a fee to extend it).

There is a lot of information to collect on your end before submitting the application, so for summer takers, you should begin collecting information either during the summer prior to your 3L year or during the fall semester of your 3L year. Here are important links to the information you will need to collect:

* Information to Collect
* Supplemental Forms (that may or may not apply)

Part of the Moral Character Application involves submitting fingerprint cards (generally through the Live Scan Form). The Pepperdine School of Law will bring in Live Scan folks at some point for student convenience each semester, but you can do it on your own if you prefer. Go HERE for a list of Live Scan locations (and prices).

The Moral Character Application is submitted electronically HERE (although you will also mail stuff in after submission). Make sure you sit down before reading this next sentence: at present, the cost is $525.

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The Finish Line

It is just about time to get this little examination over with and move on with life, how does that sound?

Odds are that you have prepared for this exam more than you have ever prepared for any one thing in your life. As a result, you will be relieved to finally get to it. It will (unbelievably) feel good to start those first morning essays!

So you are past the time for dreading “the bar” – just bring it on, knock it out, and get to the rest of your life!

A few final thoughts:

1. Enjoy a little packing and nesting this weekend. If you have studied at the law school, clean out your locker. When you pack up for the hotel, be sure to read over the “what you can bring into the exam” list and believe that they are serious about enforcing the list.

2. For those staying in hotels, I suggest arriving early. It gets a little crazy when a bunch of bar applicants arrive at the same time prepared to argue with anyone and anything, so I suggest beating the crowd.

3. Once you arrive, take a leisurely walk around the area to get your bearings. Both the walk and the acclimation process are good things.

4. Get plenty of alarms set (wake-up call, cell phone alarm, etc.) – no need to add unnecessary stress by oversleeping!

5. Walk in with confidence. There is a difference between confidence and arrogance, and truth be told, you graduated from a school with a track record on the bar that qualifies you to walk in the room with either one. Arrogance can get you in trouble, though. Instead, walk in knowing that you have everything going for you and are in the top echelon of people truly prepared for the bar exam.

6. Pay attention to your timing. You have practiced this all summer, so it won’t be a problem. Just stay on task.

7. Finally, just do your best no matter what. As a dad, I have always told my daughters that I would be proud of them for doing their best regardless of the final result. The good news for you is that your best on the bar exam promises to produce the result you want.

It has truly been an honor to tag along with you all through the bar preparation process. I look forward to seeing many of you during a lunch break next week, and I especially look forward to the swearing-in ceremony after you accomplish what you set out to accomplish!

You continue to be in my thoughts and prayers, but I have every confidence in you.

Yours to count on,

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Home Stretch

At two weeks out there is a weird mixture of emotions – half panic, and half so sick of studying all day that you don’t care anymore.  But there you are, two weeks out, regardless.

I think the hardest I laughed all summer was somewhere around this point when a fellow studier and I had a conversation about what it would be like to get run over by a bus.  I’m not sure how the conversation started, but the gist of it was that the prospect had never sounded better.  We found this hilarious.  This is disturbing to recount now, but there you have it.

My general approach to bar study was the sheep approach.  Don’t overthink it.  Don’t strike out on my own.  Just do what I’m told and let the bar review course (I paid handsomely) lead me to green pastures.  And I did this for almost the entire summer.

At this point of the summer, however, once we made it to the end of the substantive lectures and headed into the home stretch, I decided to go a little lone ranger on the process.  What prompted my entrepreneurial spirit was the thought that I felt like I needed to review several subjects in a day instead of just one or two.  I decided to spend time with three or four subjects each day so that I cycled through all the bar subjects every three or four days.

It was a little jarring to create my own study schedule when I had simply checked off boxes created by someone else all summer long, but it was a good move for me to tailor the last couple of weeks to my personal style.

I am not suggesting that everyone should junk their bar review course schedule for the last couple of weeks.  No, the sheep approach comes highly recommended.  Instead, I just want to say that you should feel free to modify the final push to a format that makes you feel comfortable.  You are just putting the finishing touches on something you spent all summer creating, so feel free to make it your own.

If you do, just make sure you keep practicing all three areas – essays, performance tests, and MBEs.  Make sure you keep cycling through your outlines, notecards, or whatever.  Make sure you keep getting rest, nutritious food, exercise, and the occasional adult conversation.

You have survived the hardest part of the summer.  As you turn into the home stretch, take a deep breath and find a little bit of joy in knowing that if you just keep it up that you will soon cross the finish line and have reason to celebrate.

I’ll be preparing the celebratory hugs and high fives.

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Sleep, or the Lack Thereof

I never had trouble going to sleep in law school.  Never.  I did have trouble staying awake sometimes.  But I had a lot of trouble sleeping during the summer of my bar exam.  I have heard a story or two from others that convinces me that mine was not an isolated experience.

For me, it was simply the inability to turn off my brain at night.  It wasn’t that I was reviewing subject matter or anything that might have been productive.  Instead, I would just lay there and keep picturing the exam – what Tuesday morning would be like, how I would feel about the MBEs, what glorious Thursday afternoon would feel like.  It wouldn’t stop, and I wouldn’t sleep well at all, and then my infernal alarm clock would sound and my list of things to do would be long and waiting.

But I made it through the summer in spite of fitful sleep patterns, and the actual exam finally approached.  At that point, I wondered how I would sleep on the nights of bar exam week?  Would I still struggle and then wake up groggy and listless to face a six-hour exam when I needed to be on top of my game?

Well, there turned out to be both good news and bad news, but the good news was far better than the bad.

The bad news first: I slept fitfully on the nights of bar exam week, too.  I just did.  Same story, could not turn the old brain off at night.

But there was unexpected good news.

I have already shared my Hurricane Katrina story, but since it is the source of the good news, I have to share it again.  In the aftermath of Katrina, I remember being amazed at how the human body responds to trauma.  I was not in good physical shape when the storm came through, but in the days that followed, we would wake up early in the oppressive Mississippi heat, work manual labor all day long, go to bed late in night on a hard floor without a mattress or electricity, sleep a few hours, wake up early, and do it again.  Day after day after day – and miraculously, we didn’t even feel exhausted.

I learned that when facing a traumatic experience your body kicks in to do what it has to do.

I was standing outside the Pasadena Convention Center at one point during the bar exam when it dawned on me that I was reliving the lesson learned in Katrina.  Even though I slept fitfully throughout the summer – including nights between the bar exam – when the alarm sounded each morning, I popped out of bed and was ready to do what I had to do to get this exam behind me.

True story.

I guess the realization that the bar exam qualifies as a traumatic experience does not sound much like good news.  But it is, simply because your body will kick in and carry you through.

Maybe that will even help you sleep better, but if not, just remember that you can sleep well when the bar exam is over.  And you will.

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