I have officially graduated from law school.
That’s me in the 10th row in the black gown and hat. And so it begins. My long anticipated bar exam preparations. Most law students don’t really think about the bar exam during the 3 years of school, except when it comes to the lunches sponsored by BarBri, the largest of the test prep companies out there. BarBri and Kaplan, another prep company, set up dueling tables on campus with student reps pitching the discounts and benefits of signing up during our first year. Token giveaways are offered as further enticement. I own a BarBri emblazoned gym bag that does a good job of hauling my sneakers and water bottle around, but that still wasn’t enough to get me to commit to spending $4200 to prep for the California Bar. And all those free mini bags of M&Ms on the Kaplan table wouldn’t get me to bite on the $3800 they wanted for their class.
So what did I end up doing, when most of my classmates and my two roommates went the BarBri route? I chose a company called BarMax. Now keep in mind this was after a significant amount of research to explore my options. There are plenty of other companies willing to take fewer dollars than BarBri to help you prep, but BarMax stood head and shoulders above the rest to me for a few reasons. Their comprehensive bar prep program was specifically designed for the iPad or iPod touch. They license actual Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) multiple-choice questions from the National Conference of Bar Examiners. This may seem obvious but many of the other prep programs used made up questions. They also have Harvard Law School professors conduct the audio lectures in their areas of specialty. This wasn’t a deal breaker for me, but it is comforting to know that the people lecturing you are employed by the #2 ranked law school in the country. Oh, and the app is only $999. Add the cost of a new iPad and it’s a $1500 investment. Winning!
At the end of the day, I was motivated by the flexibility of the program because of the use of technology. Essentially I carry around my iPad 2 and can do all my studying in the comfort of my own home, at a coffee shop or on the beach. Everything is on my iPad and the appeal is obvious. Lectures, outlines, flashcards, sample essays and MBE questions. Compare this to my roommates who have to attend classes where they watch videotaped lectures, while hauling around 50lbs of books BarBri provides. Actually, that’s what I think I’ll do. I’ll compare the two experiences and hope the effort helps future bar takers decide.