I’ve been meaning to go over some of the hurdles that I and many new grads face to finding employment pre and post bar. The list I’ve come up with is ever evolving so I’ll go over the first few that came to mind.
The first hurdle that came to mind is bar admissions. I noticed that there were job openings for entry level attorneys between July and October–right between the summer bar exam administration and the results in October. Of course, to get those jobs you had to already be admitted to a state bar. For those awaiting results there weren’t any job openings for entry level attorneys waiting to hear whether or not they passed the bar. If you weren’t recruited in law school, you generally have to wait to find out which bar admissions you have before you can get a job–and all the entry level attorney positions dry up right around when you find out whether or not you passed.
I am also at a disadvantage since I only have one bar admission. There is a neighboring state which has reciprocity (if you take the multistate bar exam part in your state they’ll accept those scores and let you take their state specific essay exam) and most people taking my state’s bar will also apply in the neighboring state. So many employers come to expect that if you have bar admission in one state, you’ll have it in the other, and have taken to requiring admission in both.
The only problem with this assumption is the cost. I did use a bar prep service and I chose one with online materials and with the lowest cost. Even with a discount the price came to $1300. To add on another state would have been another $100. The cost of my state’s bar exam was $500 plus $100 for taking the test on a laptop instead of on paper. Taking the bar in the neighboring state would require another $500 application fee. Additionally the test was being held two hours away from my state’s location so I’d have to work out transportation and lodging.
Frankly I simply couldn’t afford the cost of taking another state’s bar exam. I didn’t have a bar loan (which were impossible to get anyhow) and I knew I wouldn’t practice in the neighboring state. In fact, even had I taken and passed the bar exam in the neighboring state, I wouldn’t be allowed to practice without being hired by a firm in that state anyway–you have to maintain a domicile or permanent office there to use your license. Plus it would mean the additional costs of CLEs and annual bar dues. It just seemed like a waste of money without a job in hand.
My frugality meant that I did very well on the bar exam that I did take but my options for employment are tightly constrained when so many of my peers are licensed in two states.However, I had to make due with the money I had and since taking two bar exams raised my costs exponentially, I just couldn’t afford to do it. I took the bar exam in the state where I live and intended to practice and I have to hope that a job in state, or a federal job, will turn up (since I still can’t afford the application fees for another bar exam at this point).
So long story short, if you’re a law student you should really look into the job postings where you want to practice. Look at the typical requirements for bar admissions and if there’s multiple states listed, start saving now. Don’t rely on getting a bar loan since I’ve known law students with perfect credit who couldn’t afford them–you’ll have to start saving.