Taking the bar exam in two states - Good idea?

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Anonymous User
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Taking the bar exam in two states - Good idea?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Apr 13, 2015 2:17 pm

I am a 3L and I have a big firm job lined up in IL. I am originally from MA. I saw that the bar exam schedule allows for me to take both the IL and MA bar exams (MA as an "add-on") this July. The total cost for me would be around $1,100 including bar prep. MA lets you waive in after 5 years of practice in the original state.

I am not sure if this is a good idea since I am not sure if I will move back to MA. I might stay in IL, I might go to MA, or I might go somewhere else. If I had to put a percentage on it, I would say the probability breakdown is as follows: IL 40%, MA 40%, Other 20%.

I am wondering the following things in consideration of this dilemma:
-If I wanted to lateral to a Boston firm from Chicago with MA ties, how much will being admitted in MA help this process?
-Is the credited answer to simply wait until I have an offer from a Boston firm and study for the bar then?
-Does the new firm typically give you time to study for the exam?
-How hard is it to study for a relatively easy exam (MA) 3-4 years into practice while working?
-I am worried that waiting 5 years is risky because I hear that years 3-5 are when a lawyer is most marketable for lateraling.

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AVBucks4239
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Re: Taking the bar exam in two states - Good idea?

Postby AVBucks4239 » Mon Apr 13, 2015 2:48 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I am a 3L and I have a big firm job lined up in IL. I am originally from MA. I saw that the bar exam schedule allows for me to take both the IL and MA bar exams (MA as an "add-on") this July. The total cost for me would be around $1,100 including bar prep. MA lets you waive in after 5 years of practice in the original state.

I am not sure if this is a good idea since I am not sure if I will move back to MA. I might stay in IL, I might go to MA, or I might go somewhere else. If I had to put a percentage on it, I would say the probability breakdown is as follows: IL 40%, MA 40%, Other 20%.

I am wondering the following things in consideration of this dilemma:
-If I wanted to lateral to a Boston firm from Chicago with MA ties, how much will being admitted in MA help this process?
-Is the credited answer to simply wait until I have an offer from a Boston firm and study for the bar then?
-Does the new firm typically give you time to study for the exam?
-How hard is it to study for a relatively easy exam (MA) 3-4 years into practice while working?
-I am worried that waiting 5 years is risky because I hear that years 3-5 are when a lawyer is most marketable for lateraling.

Best Case Scenario: you pass both and get to use one 3-5 years down the road if the opportunity to lateral presents itself.

Worst Case Scenario: you fail both because you were trying to study two separate exams.

Don't unnecessarily over-complicate the most important hurdle to your professional career. The answer to every one of your questions is to focus on passing one state's bar exam before you think about being admitted in two separate states, and don't worry about the logistics of lateraling before the opportunity presents itself.

ETA: the bar exam is hard simply because there is a TON of information studied at once.

Mass tests the following: Agency; Federal Rules of Civil Procedure; Business Organizations; Mass. Rules of Civil Procedure; Constitutional Law; Professional Responsibility; Contracts; Real Property (inc. Mortgages); Criminal Law; Torts; Descent & Distribution of Estates; Trusts; Domestic Relations; Unfair or Deceptive Practices (G.L.c. 93A); Evidence (including Federal Rules); Uniform Commercial Code (Articles 1-9); Federal Jurisdiction; Wills.

Illinois tests the following: Administrative Law; Agency; Commercial Paper; Conflicts of Laws; Corporations; Equity; Family Law; Federal Jurisdiction & Procedure; Federal Taxation; Illinois Civil Procedure; Partnership; Personal Property; Sales; Secured Transactions; Suretyship; Trusts & Future Interests; Wills; Constitutional Law; Contracts/Sales; Criminal Law & Procedure; Evidence; Real Property; Torts

While this looks like a lot of overlap, you're actually looking at three sets of Civil Procedure (federal, MA, IL), three sets of evidence (federal, MA, IL), and two sets of almost everything else (i.e., wills in IL will be slightly different than wills in MA, both will be state law tests; and this will apply for everything that overlaps). Then you're looking at extra subjects in each jurisdiction that don't overlap.

Having taken the bar exam, I can't possibly imagine doing this much. One was a shit-ton. Two would be a nightmare. Maybe somebody who took two can give you a plan, but that would be incredibly difficult.

My opinion, long story short, is to walk before you run. Focus on passing IL then get MA if the opportunity to lateral presents itself.
Last edited by AVBucks4239 on Wed Apr 15, 2015 9:59 am, edited 1 time in total.

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AreJay711
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Re: Taking the bar exam in two states - Good idea?

Postby AreJay711 » Mon Apr 13, 2015 2:59 pm

Probably not worth it. NY/NJ is pretty common and could make a practical difference. I would just wait to take the MA exam in February. You won't need to study anywhere near as much the second time around -- 5 hours a week is probably enough. I did the NY bar as a second bar with probably 40 hours total studying and passed. The MBE shit will be easy to recall.

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XxSpyKEx
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Re: Taking the bar exam in two states - Good idea?

Postby XxSpyKEx » Tue Apr 14, 2015 6:20 pm

Just take the IL bar exam for now. Check to see if MA has reciprocity with IL (might be able to get through motion after 3-5 years of practice experience). If not, and you become pretty sure you want to move to Boston, you can take the MA bar exam in February. Difficult because you'll be working, but not super difficult since you'll have retained most of the stuff (particularly MBE topics) you learned 6 months prior. Also, consider where you're going to practicing in MA. Most people are out of biglaw within 3-5 years. If 100% of your practice is going to be in federal court, you might be able to get into the federal district court and practice law in Boston with only IL + federal court bar. Think you can get into any of the fed circuit court bars without being a member of the state bar in which the court sits, but the district courts depend on the district.




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