Just days after celebrating their graduation, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law’s newest alumni return to the classroom and engage in intensive study designed to enhance their ability to pass the upcoming bar examination. Fortunately, recent graduates have already been exposed to years of groundwork readying them for the final weeks of preparation as part of a comprehensive focus on ensuring students are as prepared as possible when they take the bar exam.
“Years of planning go into preparing for the bar,” explained Mary Jane McGinty, C|M|LAW Director of Bar Preparation. “We have a comprehensive approach to bar preparation and understand that we need to do whatever we can to make sure our students are successful in their ultimate goal to pass the bar.”
From first week on campus during First Years’ First Week Orientation, new students are exposed to discussions on bar prep planning and the bar application process. The strategy ramps up at the beginning of their second-year when they are assigned a faculty mentor. The faculty mentor will touch base with a student throughout the remainder of law school regarding planning and preparing for the exam and then work with students on issues and as as an sounding board during the final weeks of intensive bar preparation.
The personal relationships established between faculty mentors and students studying for the bar have received positive feedback and C|M|LAW’s engaged faculty have implemented additional initiatives to support students’ bar preparation efforts. In 2016, faculty developed a video series that provides specific information about aspects of the bar study. The entertaining and informal videos feature multiple faculty in fast cuts covering topics including introduction to bar review, how to review bar prep notes, why to utilize bar study workshops, and how to avoid burnout.
C|M|LAW faculty also volunteer to partake in a presentation series in their subjects of expertise in the weeks leading up to the exam. Last July, 11 faculty members offered sessions on topics ranging from First Amendment Law to Legal Ethics.
The faculty presentation series is a supplement to the primary BARBRI bar preparation course C|M|LAW students are provided free of charge with a refundable book deposit courtesy of a partnership established in 2012 with the nationally-known provider of bar exam preparation courses. The BARBRI course reviews and tests substantive law in key subject areas covered by the bar examination.
“The BARBRI course is the equivalent of a 10-week, full-time job, where 8-10 hours of work per day are expected between the lectures and review, and the final two weeks call for even further time commitment,” said McGinty.
C|M|LAW offers several unique, complimentary programs to the BARBRI course, including the faculty presentation series, to thoroughly prepare students for all aspects of bar exam. McGinty runs a weekly Multistate Performance Test (MPT) workshop, where participants receive individual feedback and advice on their practice MPTs, as well as the opportunity to discuss general strategies for attacking this particularly challenging part of the bar exam. She also conducts pop-up workshops specifically focused on the essay portion of the exam. C|M|LAW’s support runs all the way to testing day, with an on-site presence at the Ohio Bar Examination for last minute support. McGinty noted that an invaluable aspect of these supplementary programs is to give students the opportunity to ask questions and clarify information covered in the BARBRI course.
C|M|LAW students are also able to get a jump start on their bar preparation before the final weeks of intensive study in the BARBRI course through an invaluable Ohio Bar Examination Strategies and Tactics course that is part of the law school curriculum. Designed to be taken the semester before graduation, this course is open to all students and uses substantive law to establish expectations for the bar exam’s testing modalities.
There is a high correlation between the amount of effort a student exerts in bar review preparation and the likelihood of passing the exam. For instance, students who pass a simulated Multistate Bar Examination, two graded essays and 75% of their assigned work, pass the bar exam at over a 95% rate. Because of data analysis, C|M|LAW will continue to be at the forefront of offering students various mean of support in their bar preparation.
“We are constantly assessing our program and conducting data analysis so we can zero in on the initiatives that truly help students pass the bar,” said McGinty. “We focus on what is important and make sure as many preparation opportunities as possible are open to our students.”