Q: What core tutoring components do you use in your program?
A: There are six individually tailored components designed to promote your personal success:
1.) INITIAL ESSAY DIAGNOSTIC---Based on a sample of your writing, individual opportunities for improvement are specifically identified and practical solutions for each are offered.
2.) PERFORMANCE TEST DIAGNOSTIC---Your answer to a PT is used to expose the mystery behind how to issue spot, extract the correct rules and perform the requisite analysis in a performance test based on precisely what the graders are looking for and where you are personally deviating from their expectations.
3.) STEP BY STEP METHODS FOR SUCCESS---I break down an approach to both the essays and PTs in easy to follow, logical steps reflecting how your answer will be graded. The methods reflect my training and experience grading for the California Bar. Once you know what the graders are looking for and how to communicate it properly you can apply the techniques to earn a passing answer.
4.) PRACTICE QUESTIONS---Previous California bar exam questions are used to ensure an accurate basis for feedback on a large number of practice essay and PT questions.
5.) FEEDBACK---Individualized, detailed written and/or oral feedback is provided on each practice answer. A numerical score in accordance with bar grading standards is also given so you know exactly where you stand before you sit for the exam.
6.) MBE STRATEGY---A universal strategy for approaching MBE questions that ties directly into the methodology for approaching the written portion of the exam.
Q: What is different about the feedback you give on the practice questions?
A: I was one of those people who assigned the 55s, the 75s, etc. to the blue books. As such, I evaluate your answers just as I did when I graded for the California Bar. I give each practice answer the numerical score it would receive if it were submitted in the actual bar exam. In addition, I tell you what you did right, what you can do better and how to do it. Written feedback is followed by the opportunity to have a one on one discussion for a more thorough understanding.
When evaluating different sources of feedback on your practice answers determine the source and nature of it. Did this person grade the bar? Are you going to get general comments or individualized, specific feedback with tools on how you can improve? Wherever you turn, make sure your feedback source is credible, individually tailored and offers a clear method on how you can raise your scores.
Q: Is your program all I need to prepare for the bar?
A: No. My program is a supplement to traditional substantive bar review courses such as BarBri. Substantive courses give you the rules of law. Yet, many find them lacking when it comes to preparing for the written portion of the bar exam because memorizing rules of law and applying them through issue spotting and legal analysis aimed at meeting the bar graders' expectations is a different skill entirely. Not adequately mastering this skill accounts for most exam failures. My program picks up where the traditional substantive review courses leave off.
Q: What if I have a substantive law question and need help generally in that area? How do you incorporate "substantive law training" into teaching "writing skills?"
A: You have to know the law in order to write on it. It goes hand and hand with learning how to communicate it for the bar graders. Thus, if you ever have a substantive law question I am happy to address that with you. In addition, I give you an appreciation of the depth and scope of the substantive law you need to know and the reasoning behind it based on how the essays are graded. This differs greatly from most people's experience in law school where a general knowledge of the law and decent writing skills equated to passing a course. Most often on the bar, this translates into not passing an essay. Along with an appreciation for the depth and scope of the law you must know, I offer tools and techniques based on efficiently and systematically acquiring the massive amount of knowledge one must have in a short amount of time. Lastly, the library I've selected from past bar exam questions has been specifically chosen because it exemplifies the most commonly tested legal issues in each of the thirteen subjects covered on the exam. Thus, you are trained in that regard as well. What I do not do is say, "Today we are going to learn Con Law," and then give you a substantive law outline to go over together. BarBri or your other substantive review class already did this for you. I give you the tools on how to work with the materials you already have in an efficient, highly focused manner aimed at giving the bar graders what they are looking for.
Q: What is your pass rate?
A: If I chose to work only with those who scored well above 1400, my pass rate would likely be in the high 90's. However, I do not selfishly exclude candidates to ensure the bragging right of a near perfect pass rate. Instead, I choose to work with those from a broad range of backgrounds, scores and circumstances. Some attended a top ten law school while others obtained their law degree from a non-ABA accredited institution. The common denominator is that all my clients are given essential tools for success on the written portion of the exam and receive individual instruction/encouragement. As a result, all make significant progress.
Another consideration is the scope of my services. My coaching is centered on "bar writing skills" wherein the deficiency responsible for the vast majority of failures lies. To the surprise of many, reliable training in this area is not provided in traditional review courses! I also do not have direct involvement with coaching in the full extent of the substantive law one must know in order to be successful in the written portion. The nature of working on writing skills with any library of essays and PTs does not lend itself to that. Rather, as a direct consequence of working with my methodology you have a sound appreciation of the degree and depth with which one must know the law. Ironically, this differs greatly from law school. You may then tailor your studies accordingly to master the information readily available via a course such as BarBri. In addition, I use the most commonly tested legal issues in this selection of prior bar exam questions to develop the necessary writing skills one may apply successfully to any of the thousands of issues the examiners may test. For this reason, I require my clients to take (concurrently or previously) a formal substantive review course such as BarBri.
These two exposures, substantive law and writing skills, merge to form a solid foundation for success across 100% of the exam.
All this considered, I am pleased to say that my "pass rate" generally runs anywhere from the low 80s to low 90s for those who complete one of my defined core programs. The statewide pass rate for repeaters is often less than 20 per cent and in the 40s for all applicants.
Q: I understand that you are located in San Francisco. I am in Southern California. Can I still use of your services?
A: Let's face it, time is an extremely valuable commodity during bar exam preparation. Time spent commuting to and from a tutoring session can be better spent reviewing study materials, exercising, working at your job, and a variety of other activities that promote success on the exam. That's why all practice exam questions are completed when your schedule permits. They are submitted and returned online. In addition, nearly all one on one sessions are conducted over the phone. Thus, it really does not matter where you are physically located. I've successfully worked with people throughout California, from out of state and overseas as far away as South Africa. In fact, my many clients located in the San Francisco Bay Area are able to enjoy the efficiency and flexibility of this arrangement in conjunction with meeting in person in the Nob Hill area.
Q: What are the main advantages to working with you?
A: There are two. First, I am a former California bar grader. You get first hand insights and knowledge of how written answers are evaluated on the actual exam. I know what the graders want for a passing answer and give you the tools to efficiently get there. There is no guess work based on second hand knowledge or rumor. (I am amazed at the amount of misinformation floating around out there!) Because I was the guy who actually put the pen on the answer book and wrote the 55, 60, 75, etc., I speak from the highest authority on how the answers are graded. Second, you get multiple opportunities for a one on one personal exchange where we review your areas for improvement and progress. You are not lost in a group and/or solely fed generic, broad feedback such as "more analysis needed" or "spot more issues." You don't have to postpone your questions and/or limit them as with a seminar. Instead, you get personalized coaching, a reliable, consistent methodology independent of the substantive medium being tested as well as a line by line evaluation of your writing with a numerical score on each in accordance with actual bar grading standards.
Q: How would you describe your "style" in working with your clients?
People come with individual needs. Some prefer to be left alone to do the work at their own pace on their own time. Some need more structure. In addition, many are balancing work, family, "life," emotional ups and downs, etc. throughout the bar season. For these reasons, I have a very flexible, open system that allows you to do the work and engage with me at times when you are most receptive to learning and in balance with your specific needs for interacting.
I equip you with a sound, straight forward methodology and give extremely extensive written feedback on your work. For many, this frees them up to be efficient in going forth with less frequent contact through one on one sessions. Others may need more interaction. If I see a pattern and/or issue that needs to be addressed outside of the written comments I initiate a session. If you want to flesh out any matters on a particular piece of work beyond my detailed written feedback you may choose to initiate a session.
Needs arise and evolve at different stages. Therefore, we have one on one sessions on an "as needed basis." We work as a team with me constantly monitoring your progress and reaching out when adjustments are necessary. If I do not see weak patterns in your written work coupled with consistent progress and you do not reach out to me about any other concerns I will assume you are working on substantive studies, etc. and doing fine. However, I may still reach out briefly to ensure that's the case. Sometimes you may just need a pep talk, encouragement or a better perspective on where you stand over all relative to where you need to be by exam time in terms of both the writing skills and scope of substantive knowledge. As you can see from my reviews many have benefited from this repeatedly.
My aim is to access your individual needs and tailor our interaction accordingly so I do not waste your valuable study time. All this said, while I do offer encouragement and motivation, I am not going to hound and "force" you to do the work. You are an adult who wants to become and attorney, the highest fiduciary position in our country. I give you the tools and necessary support to make that happen if you do the work.
Q: When does your program end? Are you available for last minute questions during the bar?
The last opportunity for submitting written work and scheduling one on one sessions is approximately a week and a half prior to the exam. Strategically, you need to be working on substantive law review exclusively during that period. The written work is skills based. You will not become marginally much better at those skills by writing out essays in the final hour. However, in that same time period you can refresh and acquire a very significant amount of knowledge of the law. Thus, I free you up to focus on what is most likely going to get you to pass. With respect to contact following the final submission and one on one session date through the exam, I am available for email questions and/or via phone if necessary. I don't leave you hanging in the final hour.
Q: I understand you work primarily with the essays and PTs. What about the MBE?
My specialty is the written portion of the bar. As a prior bar grader I am an expert in how that part is graded. It is this area that accounts for the vast majority of failures, not the MBE. The reason is that the MBE is primarily based on knowing the substantive law. This is something everyone has equal access to unlike reliable exam writing skills training.
Learning the substantive law is key to improving one's MBE scores. Even so, applicants also need to understand how the MBE tests that knowledge and have an approach for that testing method. To that end, I provide a universal strategy for approaching the MBEs that ties directly into the methodology for the written portion of the exam. This may be applied to practice MBE questions sourced by companies such as Adaptibar, BarBri, Kaplan, etc.
What I do not provide is practice MBE questions. Adaptibar uses actual released questions. As such, they are reliable. I recommend them and have negotiated a first time user discount for my students. In addition, I do not go over individual MBE questions during the training. Instead, I offer a universal strategy that can be applied to all MBEs, suggestions on how to strategically approach one's studies, as well as goals to attain throughout the bar prep season. The reason I don't go over individual MBE questions is that sources such as Adaptibar, BarBri, etc. already provide very detailed explanations for each question. Usually if the explanation seems to defy the general rule and most exceptions it is because the examiners drafted the question based on a court ruling that turned on a single unique fact.
Ultimately, this rounds out coverage of all three sections of the exam: essays, PTs and MBEs.
Q: Is your program expensive?
Relative to the market for quality tutoring and review programs I choose to price mine at the lower end of the mid-range of individual bar tutoring programs and in line with what most private law schools charge for a three hour course. If you research online you'll find this out. I've had many tell me to raise my price due to the quality and effectiveness when compared to the other programs they've worked with, especially bar prep classes offered by law schools. Yet, in an effort to be competitive and reasonably affordable relative to the market I choose not to. That said, no quality program is going to be "cheap." Another factor to consider is the cost of not passing the bar. I firmly believe this is not a time to cut corners.
Q: I have additional questions. How can I reach you?
A: Please complete the Information Request page on this site. Be sure to include all individual scores and dates from previous bar exams. Once I receive this information I will contact you by email and be better equipped to address your concerns. Don't worry, I won't call you repeatedly and hound you to sign up or "sell" you my services. Unless further contact is requested I leave no more than one reply phone message and/or one email follow up.
That said, due to limited availability space fills very quickly following the the release of exam results. It is not unusual for me to have to turn away more people than I can accommodate. To avoid disappointment I strongly encourage coordinating a time to discuss your needs and responding to my emails/phone calls as soon as possible.