6 Tips for Applying for Bar Admission on a Budget

Barrister on a Budget - Jenny MaxeyLaw school can sometimes seem like one expense after another. And it doesn’t end when classes conclude — You still have to pass the bar exam and get admitted!

Today, we’re pleased to welcome Jenny Maxey, author of Barrister on a Budget: Investing in Law School…Without Breaking the Bank, who has some tips on getting admitted without going broke. Enjoy!

Whether you’re a 1L or a few months away from graduation, that desire to become an attorney cannot actually be fulfilled until you are licensed. And even though we all know this is the case, after being hunkered down in the law library for hours or preparing for those always-looming finals sometimes the application process for bar admission can still turn up as a surprise — and a several thousand dollar surprise at that!

However, you can keep the cost of applying for admission down through budgeting and taking steps in advance.

Plan Early for Bar Prep Courses

For instance, if you know you are going to take a bar preparation course, you should try to put down a deposit as early as you can. This step will likely lock a price into place, which will save you money as the price goes up for the course later. Additionally, most prep courses offer free materials for core classes and for the MPRE (the ethics exam for bar admission) once you register. Oftentimes, you can deepen your discount by working as a student representative for the bar review course — an income on top of a discount can’t be beat!

Can Your School Help with Bar Exam Prep?

If a bar preparation course doesn’t suit your learning-style or your pocket, take advantage of free options…or at least options that are included in your tuition. Law schools care about their students’ bar passage rate both for national rankings and for reputation, which means many offer free courses for 3Ls the semester leading up to graduation, and some even pay for bar review courses. Whether or not you’ve purchased a bar course, you should accept any school bar review assistance. Further, while the multiple-choice portion of the bar exam is covered by your core classes, the essay portion might test other subjects. Choose elective courses that will prepare you for these essays. You can find out the subject matter from your state’s bar admission website or office.

Take Advantage of Early-Bird Discounts

When registering for the bar exam or the MPRE, take advantage of early-bird deadlines. Usually signing up by a certain date will give you a discounted price. Plus, if you sign up early then you will certainly avoid potential late fees.

Start Your Application for Admission Early

The application for admission is quite an ordeal and can take a lot of time to complete. The earlier you get started the less likely you’ll have to rush materials, which can add unexpected costs. Look for staff at your law school or use your bank for free notary services. Late fees can occur for the bar application as well. Some material can be due as early as your second year of law school. Again, check your state’s admissions’ website or office for details. Keep track of due dates and fees on a calendar so you can budget the upcoming costs and avoid missing deadlines.

Consider Bar Study Costs

You’ll also need to include in your budget for the time while you are studying for the exam. You have to decide whether you will be working or not during bar preparation and possibly until you receive exam results. If you do not work, you have to account for living expenses during the time you do not have income. Also, sometimes the bar exam is not given in a location near you. Therefore, you will also need to consider travel, hotel, and food costs during the exam. You can save money by booking hotel and transportation early.

Plan Ahead and Get Creative!

Save for these upcoming costs during the summers when you are pulling in an income. Try to be creative as well. As many 3Ls use the holiday break to do their applications, ask friends and family to pay for a portion of the application or bar prep course in lieu of a gift this year. If you can, avoid taking out extra loans to pay for these costs. Most bar exam specific loans are through private lenders, have high interest rates, have demanding repayment schedules, and do not fall under educational loans for tax write-offs once you begin to make payments.

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Thanks, Jenny!

Jenny L. Maxey is the author of Barrister on a Budget: Investing in Law School…without Breaking the Bank, which is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble on November 17, 2014. Visit JennyLMaxey.com for more information.

And you might enjoy her earlier post on networking on a budget.

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