Q: Can I Work Full-Time and Prepare for the Bar Exam?

Students often ask me whether they can prepare for the bar exam and work at the same time. In a word, the answer is yes. It isn’t easy, but it can be done. Obviously, it’s ideal to have a block of time off to devote to study and prepare for the bar exam, but not everyone is able to do this.  The good news is, many of my students, especially repeaters, have successfully worked while preparing for the bar. The key to their success:  A plan.

The first step is to assess the time you have available to study. Review your daily schedule and determine how much time you have and when during the day you are available for uninterrupted study. Remember, study time doesn’t have to be set-up in large chunks of time. Even short coffee breaks can be used to study. A 15-minute coffee break can be used to review 5 MBE questions. Done twice a day, that’s 10 questions completed.

Second, block out this available study time and commit to it. Remember, you have several tasks to complete: learn the law, practice essays, practice PTs, and practice MBEs. Essays take about an hour to practice and another 15 to 30 minutes to compare to a sample and critique your self. PTs take the most time and require large blocks of time. MBEs take a couple of minutes each to answer and review. With that in mind, remember, ideally you want to write at least 4 essays per subject answer at least 2500 MBE questions, and practice about 4 to 6 PTs. That may not be possible, so be reasonable here; don’t ask too much of yourself, nor too little. You know your own capabilities, so plan accordingly

Third, commit your schedule to somebody who you are comfortable being accountable to who is willing to push you. This could be a study partner, a law school friend, a tutor, anyone who you trust to keep you on track. My students, for example, are accountable to me, sending me regular emails explaining their study plans for the day and then sending an evening report about their accomplishments for the day. Whomever you choose, make sure you report your progress to them on a regular basis, preferably daily, and stick to your commitment to communicate with them.

If you follow these steps, you should be able to devise a study plan that is effective while you work your regular job. It won’t be easy, but nothing worth having is, and sure, in an ideal world, it’s going to be easier to prepare without the burden of juggling study time with a full-time job, this isn’t a viable option for many. No matter–you can still achieve your dream and be a lawyer while working full time if you follow the steps outlined above.