Bar Preparation Checklist
First Year Law Students
✓ Find and study the requirements of the jurisdictions where you would like to practice law. You may go to http://www.ncbex.org/bar-admissions/ to learn the requirements of other jurisdictions in the United States. Some jurisdictions require that you take certain courses while in law school. Remember not every course is offered every semester, so don't wait until your last semester to take a course you need to sit for the bar exam.
✓ Begin gathering the necessary data, such as all of your addresses, employers, reference information, and criminal history if any. Start a file to keep track of all of your bar-related documents. Be mindful it may take some time to collect the necessary information. Note you will also need to get fingerprinted, and you likely will need a certified copy of your birth certificate. In Florida and other jurisdictions, you may be required to get criminal records unsealed. Start this process early and use forms on the website for the board of bar examiners.
- Tip: Consider obtaining a free copy of your credit report before submitting your application. Not only might you see problems you will need to correct, but credit reports often include your past addresses for a seven- to ten-year period. You may order a free annual report here: https://www.annualcreditreport.com/cra/index.jsp.
- Tip: You may also request your earnings report from the Office of Social Security at http://www.ssa.gov/ which may help you with gather addresses, work history or other information you may need.
- Tip: Another way to find information about past employers is to check your tax returns. If you do not have copies of your returns, you can order, for a charge, your past tax returns from the IRS. Complete IRS Form 4506 (available at www.irs.gov) and mail it to the address listed in the instructions. Alternatively, you can request a free "transcript of tax returns," which should contain the information you submitted in the available years. You can obtain a free transcript by calling the IRS toll-free at 800-829-1040 and following the prompts in the recorded message, or you can complete IRS Form 4506-T.
- Tip: You can order a Florida birth certificate at this website: http://www.doh.state.fl.us/planning_eval/vital_statistics/birth_death.htm. To order a birth certificate from another state, go to the vital statistics website in the state in which you were born.
- Tip: For electronic fingerprinting information visit this site: www.l1enrollment.com or call
800-528-1358 to schedule an appointment at one of two local locations - (1) St. Pete - Going Postal, 1700 66th Street North, St. Petersburg, FL 33710; or (2) Tampa - UPS Store, 503 E. Jackson St., Tampa, FL 33602. Students must make an appointment. No walk-ins are accepted.
✓ Understand the "areas of concern" for boards of bar examiners in character and fitness checks. In Florida and most other jurisdictions, the most frequent areas are (1) lack of candor, (2) criminal record, (3) financial irresponsibility, and (4) untreated substance abuse and mental illness.
✓ Attend Bar Preparation Workshops for 1L's presented by the Office of Bar Preparation Services.
✓ Register for the Florida Bar as a First Year Student. Comply with the requirements and deadlines of the jurisdiction(s) in which you are most likely to sit for the bar examination. Applicants typically receive a discount on the application fee if they apply during their first year in law school. In Florida, we encourage you to apply by January of your first year.
✓ Regularly consider whether you need to amend your Stetson Law or bar examination application (either with the board of bar examiners and/or with the College of Law). You have a continuing obligation to update both. Discrepancies between the two applications can cause delays and other issues. Go to the Florida Bar Website at http://www.floridabarexam.org/ and click on the Checklist, Forms, Study Guide and Information link. You will see a PDF under the Forms section entitled "Amendment" that you may fill out and file with the Florida Board of Bar Examiners to update your Bar application. (Note that amendments are due within 30 days of the triggering event).
✓ Consider placing a deposit for a commercial bar-review course during your first year; prices are considerably lower if you purchase earlier. Those who entered in or after Fall 2009 have purchased through your College of Law fees, PMBR/Kaplan's three-day review course. You will also need to purchase a comprehensive Bar Review course. For some bar courses you may apply for a scholarship. Also, you may want to consider becoming an on-campus representative for a commercial bar-review company to help defray some costs.
✓ As you register for electives, take some courses tested on the bar examination. Those courses include: Business Entities, Commercial Transactions - U.C.C. Art. 2, 3, & 9, Federal Criminal Procedure, Trust and Estates and Survey of Florida Law. The office of Bar Preparation has a handout that will tell you all of the courses helpful for bar preparation studies.
✓ If you have a disability, research the procedures and standards for accommodations during the bar examination (this will differ by jurisdiction). The board of bar examiners may or may not extend the same type of accommodations that you were granted in law school. The required forms for filing a petition for test accommodations can be located on the board's website at http://www.floridabarexam.org/
✓ Learn your first year subjects well. Those subjects will be tested on the MBE portion of the bar exam.
Second Year (Third Year for Part-Time Students)
✓ Attend Bar Preparation Workshops for 2L's presented by the Office of Bar Preparation Services.
✓ Plan to take the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE). The exam is given three times a year. We suggest students take the MPRE in the summer after their second year, third year for part-time students, and after they have taken Professional Responsibility. Alternatively, students may take the exam during their last year. You can register online through the National Conference of Bar Examiners at http://www.ncbex.org/. If you need accommodations, apply early and follow the instructions on the NCBE's website.
- Tip: When looking for a MPRE review course ask your bar review company. They may have a review course or study booklet with practice questions you can use to study for the MPRE. Also, be sure to determine how long your MPRE score will be valid. This is a particular issue for part-time students as your score in Florida is only good for 25 months.
- Tip: The MPRE is part of the bar examination so you need to take it seriously and prepare thoroughly. The Office of Bar Preparation Services has a MPRE study handout for your review to help you as you study.
✓ Consider reserving a hotel room near the location of the bar examination (you want to do this before the end of your second year). Even if you live relatively close, you may not want to risk the chance of having to drive or park. If you can afford it, don't share a room. You may access hotel information at http://www.floridabarexam.org/. (Select "frequently asked questions" in the second paragraph of the page, then select the 10th question under the heading "Bar Examination.")
✓ Develop the budget you will need for the bar preparation/study/waiting period after you graduate. You may need to plan over a two-year period to accumulate sufficient funds and resources for the bar preparation/bar examination/waiting period. Please note that it is best that you not work while preparing for the bar examination. Most students who attempt to work full time and study fail the first time they attempt the bar. Be sure to include all fees you must pay to the bar examiners (which is more than just the initial filing fee), commercial bar-course providers, living expenses, etc.
✓ Continue to amend your bar application and Stetson Law application as necessary.
✓ For part-time students who convert to full-time status, review all deadlines to ensure you are on schedule for bar-examination purposes.
Final Year (Third Year for Full-Time Students/Fourth Year for Part-Time Students)
✓ Attend Bar Preparation Workshops for 3L's presented by the Office of Bar Preparation Services.
✓ As you register for your final semester, we encourage you to register for Survey of Florida Law and/or Multistate Strategies. These courses will prove very helpful for you as you study for the bar exam.
✓ Ensure that you have completed all paperwork required by the bar (including any ADA accommodations and any approvals needed to take required medicine -- including over-the-counter medication -- during the examination). In Florida, to take medication into the examination, complete the "Notice of Medical Alert" found at www.floridabarexam.org.
✓ Finalize plans/pay for commercial bar-review course and other bar expenses. Pay for your bar review course and plan where you will live while studying for the bar examination. If you need to move, move right after graduation. If you plan to stay make sure your accommodations are solidified prior to the bar studying period.
✓ Get a passport photo, if required for your jurisdiction (it is required in Florida).
✓ Get fingerprinted, if you have not already done so.
✓ If you are not taking the bar examination in Florida, contact the Office of Bar Preparation Services to get the names of some alumni in the jurisdiction to which you will be moving.
✓ If you registered for the Florida Bar as a student you must convert your Student Registration Application to a General Bar Application. We suggest you convert your application at the beginning of your last year of law school. To convert your application please go to http://www.floridabarexam.org/ and click on the Checklist, Forms, Study Guide and Information link. (On that page you will find a link entitled "Convert a student registration or CLI Registration to Pursue Admission to the Florida Bar.") After paying your application fee you will receive your Ticket of Admission to sit for the Florida Bar.
- Tip: If you are taking the Florida bar, the College of Law automatically will send in your Dean's Certificate after your final semester grades have been submitted. We are required to submit all information in a single document and do not complete individual certificates, unless you take the exam at a time other than the administration immediately following your graduation.
- Tip: If you are taking an exam outside Florida, send the Dean's Certificate to the Registrar's Office. That office will complete the form and obtain the appropriate signature.
✓ If you want to type your essays, register by the deadline with the bar examiners to use your laptop. The laptop fee in Florida is $125 dollars.
✓ For those with a family, fiancé, or significant other: Take time to explain how the bar-study and bar-examination processes will work. Many will think that because you have graduated, you will have a lot more time to spend with them. But this likely will not be the case because of the intensity of this study period.
- Tip: Plan a short vacation right after graduation (be sure to check the dates of the bar course) and plan an extended vacation to occur soon after the bar examination.
- If you are working, let your employer know your plans for studying and taking the bar examination. We highly suggest that you do not work while studying for the bar. Working while studying for the bar exam makes it very challenging for you to put forth all the effort needed to pass the bar exam the first time. If you must work, at a minimum you must take the last 2 weeks off before you sit for the bar exam.
✓ If taking the Florida bar, register for the Stetson lunches (Office of Student Life).
- Tip: You will not have much time for lunch. Stetson provides a varied and hot lunch each day; we suggest you take this option. We do not allow anyone to discuss the examination during lunch.
✓ Reconfirm your hotel reservation.