As you prepare to leave law school behind and embark on life post-graduation, make sure you have all your affairs in order. You’ll need to check these items off your to-do list before leaving your school’s front gates and prior to taking the bar exam.
1) Prepare for Your Graduation Ceremony
Your school likely requires you to confirm your name and prior degree information before your graduation ceremony. You definitely want your name spelled right on your diploma, and you don’t want to be the only one not wearing a graduation robe, so visit the registrar’s office for any required graduation ceremony forms and arrange to pick up your cap and gown.
2) Career Exit Interview
Some schools require a career exit interview, where you’ll discuss the job you have lined up or your post-graduation plans. If your school doesn’t require this, it’s still a good idea to make an appointment with your law school’s career services office to talk about life after graduation. Having allies in the career services office is always a good idea—these key staff can, if in your corner, help you find your next great job or otherwise maximize the employment potential of your hard-earned law degree.
3) Loan Exit Interview
Whether or not your law school requires a loan exit interview, you should make an appointment with the financial aid office to ensure you understand what will be required of you after graduation. Arm yourself with as much information as possible so that you can budget responsibly in your post-grad life.
4) Pay Outstanding Fees
Pay any fines you owe to the library, university gym, or cafeteria before graduating. It’s not just the right thing to do—it is often required before you can receive your diploma.
5) Terminate Your Housing Lease
If you plan to relocate after graduation, make sure your departure coincides with the expiration of your housing lease, or find a subletter to take over your space.
6) Do That Thing You Always Wanted to Do
Leaving law school often means leaving a city where you’ve lived for three years and parting with friends with whom you’ve built meaningful bonds. Before it’s too late, do that touristy thing you never got around to, or take part in that school tradition you were always too busy to attend. The end of law school is a busy time, but carve out a night or two to make sure you leave with no regrets.
You need to take the bar exam, and you can’t just show up with a number 2 pencil the day of. Well in advance of test day, you will need to register, complete various applications, and secure certain approvals. Every state has its own specific requirements, so visit the website of your state Bar Association to find out exactly what you need to do. In general, these are the pre-exam tasks you’ll have to complete in every state:
1) Register for the Bar Exam
Every state has different rules for when you must register with the Bar Association. In some states, you must do so within 30 days of beginning 1L year. In other states, there are no specifications. Check your state bar website to make sure you’ve registered properly.
2) Complete an Application for Determination of Moral Character
In most states, you must fill out an application that determines whether you are even eligible to practice law, based on diverse criteria like existing criminal record, past or present substance abuse, level of financial debt, and mental disability. These applications may require you to dig up old addresses for apartments and jobs you’ve been associated from age 18 to the present. Getting approved can take six months, so fill out this application at the beginning of 3L year to be on the safe side!
3) Family Support
In some states, you must prove that you have complied with any child or family support requirements before you can be admitted to the bar. If you pay child or family support regularly, consult the rulebook for your state, and make sure you’ve filled out any mandatory proof documents.
4) Take the MPRE Exam
You need to pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination in order to be admitted to the Bar. This 60-question multiple-choice test is given three times per year, and is required in all but three jurisdictions (Maryland, Wisconsin, and Puerto Rico). The test is meant to gauge students’ understanding of legal rules and ethics in a variety of roles (lawyer, judge, prosecutor, etc.). Passing the test means that you have the basic knowledge needed to conduct yourself ethically and professionally. You can take the MPRE before or after taking the bar, but why not get it out of the way beforehand? We have a section of the site with a free MPRE course that can help your studying.
After crossing all your t’s and dotting all your i’s, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and do the hard part: study for the bar exam. Luckily, you have BarMax to help you out!