Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Brilliant Idea of the Month

I graduate from law school in May. This means I will possess a juris doctor degree and all of the debt that goes with it. It does not mean I will be authorized to practice law. To practice law, I have to take (and pass) the bar exam in July. This situation, common to almost all law grads (exception to those who graduate and practice in Wisconsin—an odd arrangement to be sure), inspires most of us to devote the summer following graduation solely to study and preparation for the exam.

Common way to tackle this task:
  • Enroll in BarBri course ($2200)*
  • Food and incidentals for 8 weeks ($150 x 8 = $1200)
  • Rent and utilities for 3 months ($550 x 3 = $1650)
  • Take the bar exam ($1200)
Total cost: $6250
Pros: fairly fool-proof, structured way to get the information needed to pass the test.
Cons: boring as all-get-out, spend all summer in a sterile classroom under commercial fluorescent lighting. I don’t have that much money.

Consider an alternative:
  • Buy bar study books ($200)
  • Find 2 to 4 friends with similar study plans to come with me (provide safety, study companions, and split up carrying books)
  • Plan short distances between shelters to maximize study time during daylight hours.
  • Plan weekends (trips into town): subtotal: $1220
    • 8 Saturday nights in a hotel (sharing rooms) ($35 x 8 = $320)
    • 8 Saturday dinners out ($15 x 8 = $120)
    • 8 loads of coin laundry ($2.50 x 8 = $20)
    • 8 trips to the grocery store for restocking ($100 x 8 = $800)
    • Local church Sunday morning (free)
  • Taking the test: subtotal: $1750
    • Rent/utilities for 1 month ($550)
    • Take the bar exam ($1200)
Total cost: $4050
Pros: WAY more fun and memorable. You only get to do this once, and it may be your last chance to structure your own time for a long while. Also, you get to bite your thumb in Barbri’s general direction by refusing to participate in its unfair competition practices. And you save money.
Cons: More risky. Have to have friends who will enforce accountability for studying.

So, um… Anybody game?

*Figures are based on the cost of taking the North Carolina bar. Other states may vary.
**I already have a backpack that may be fine.


Anonymous said...

I am wondering what bar study books you are thinking of using that you could carry around in a backpack along with your other supplies. I had at least 8 books that filled up an entire box and weighed approximately half a metric ton.

Becca said...

Yeah, the books will be heavy. Hopefully we can take only one set and split them among the group. In the context of a 40-50 lb pack maybe they will be reasonable?

I don't know what study books to use. Suggestions?

ryan said...

You can acquire used BarBri books for a fraction of their new cost on eBay, but that's still running north of $200, and as much as $400 in some cases.

You can mail things to yourself to various stops along the trail so you don't have to carry the whole course with you all at once.

Jake said...

As a law student who will also be graduating in May, I'm growing jealous of your plan... I'll try not to think of it while I'm languishing under the commercial fluorescent lighting of the PA/NJ BarBri course during those beautiful summer months. At least your rent is low: mine is 1100! Ahhh!

Good luck with your courses and try not to burn yourself out in this final run for the goal!

Anonymous said...

In the context of a 40-50 lb pack maybe they will be reasonable?

Doubtful. I am pretty sure that I had about 25 or 30 pounds of books. There were about 10 books, so if each one weighs between 2 and 3 pounds, that's going to be a LOT of weight.