A key question for Attorneys seeking admission to the State Bar of California

Attorneys from jurisdictions outside the State of California have the option to take the one-day attorney’s exam so long as they have an active license and have been certified in good standing for at least four consecutive years. Out-of-state attorneys are not required to sit for the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) to pass the California bar. It is a common misconception that attorneys in this category are precluded from sitting for the MBE. They are not – and can opt for the full two-day exam. The attorney’s one-day exam is no different for attorneys than it is for general bar applicants. 

All candidates seeking admission take the exact same written exam which is comprised of 5 one-hour essay questions and one 90-minute Performance Exam. The scope of the California Bar Examination covers 17 possible legal subjects-all of which are fair game on any given exam.   The California Bar Examination is administered twice a year, once in February and once in July. 

The legal subjects tested on the written portion overlap with the subjects tested on the Multistate Bar Examination. Given that circumstance, one school of thought is that if an applicant is studying for those subjects anyway, why not take the MBE?   All eggs in one written basket might seem risky when applicants can in fact minimize the risk of a bad essay by scoring a few extra points on the MBE.   

The truth is that attorney applicants are much different than general bar applicants – especially those applicants who are recent law school graduates.   Attorney applicants are entrenched in their respective professions and are overwhelmingly short on available “study” hours.  In the past 18 months, the legal profession across the country realized an extraordinary surge in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. The need for lawyers to help navigate struggling industries across multiple disciplines is something we have not seen nor would have expected.  That coupled with professionals working from home and diminished travel time gave rise to more billable hours.  In short, attorneys are extraordinarily busy these days.   

The MBE takes time to master.  It is not only about memorizing rules of law.  The MBE tests critical thinking, logic, deductive reasoning, etc.   What it does not test is conventional wisdom.  Many attorneys make the mistake of equating a significant number of years in the legal profession with the ability to pass a standardized test.  The MBE is difficult, but not insurmountable.   What the MBE requires is time.  Time to understand the test.  Time to practice the test.  Time to implement strategy while memorizing substance.  Practicing attorneys are very short on time right out of the gate, so adding an optional day to an already grueling exam would seem counterintuitive.  

Available time should be used mastering the writing technique necessary to achieving a passing passing written score. For over two decades the experts at Executive Bar Review have successfully prepared busy attorneys to do just that.  Execbar’s one-on-one approach ensures attorneys master the written exam without significant interruption to their daily professional routine.  Study plans are crafted individually and tailored to each applicant. 

For more information, or to schedule a confidential consultation please contact execbar.com.


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