JD Bar Advice and Tips - Part I
JD Bar Advice and Tips - Part I...
9 April 2014 Dear Brods, Congratulations on graduating from law school! Like me a year before, you are now one step closer towards becoming the person you have dreamed all your life (or at least, for the past four/ﬁve years) - to be an Attorney-at-Law. The Bar Exam is yours to conquer! As the person you mentored you, I am proud to see you take this most important step towards achieving that dream. Since I can no longer dispense advice on a daily basis, I hope this rather lengthy guide to taking the Bar will sufﬁce. I answer the most common questions you have asked me, and reduce to writing the other points I have given you verbally. It is divided into three sets of questions - During Bar Review, the Month Before the Bar Exams, and 3) The Bar Exam Month. For your consideration. Good luck! Utopia Fight! Brod Joseph D. De Jesus Lawyer, Brother, Brother, and Friend for Life —————————————————————————————————————————— PART I: During Bar Review Season 1. How do I appr approac oach h the Bar Revi Review ew seaso season? n? I will say this repetitively all throughout througho ut this guide: THERE IS NO FIXED RULE FOR PREPARING FOR THE BAR EXAMS. Your mindset, your strategies, and your study program will depend on a careful assessment of your personality and study habits, and an honest appraisal of your four years of education in law la w school. Be very honest with yourself as to what you can or cannot do. The bar review month is not a time to indulge in reading every single material that comes your way. way. It is also not the time to do “leisure” reading. HOWEVER YOU PREPARE FOR THE BAR, APPROACH THESE SIX MONTHS WITH A SENSE OF URGENCY. TIME IS NOT ON YOUR SIDE. FAIL TO APPROACH THE BAR WITH A SENSE OF URGENCY, AND YOU RISK LOSING A YEAR OF YOUR LIFE. TAKE THIS SERIOUSLY. Nevertheless, let me tell you frankly:
WHAT GETS YOU THROUGH THE FOUR WEEKS OF THE BAR EXAMS IS NOT YOUR SIX MONTHS OF REVIEW, BUT THE FOUR YEARS YOU SPENT IN LAW SCHOOL. I fought my way through the whole bar month by invoking the concepts and principles I had memorized, understood, and mastered in law school. Much of what I read throughout the six months, I could not recall. The six months you have is simply your opportunity to REVIEW everything you encountered in law school. It is not the time to learn everything all over again. Six months may seem like a lot of time right now, but in the blink of an eye, it’ll be the night before the bar exams. Time ﬂies that fast. The good news is that you are not starting from scratch. You already know 80% of the Bar Coverage, and you just have to recall it all again in time for the exams. Keep this formula in mind when planning your schedule: 20% OF YOUR TIME SHOULD BE SPENT FOR REVIEWING THE 80% YOU ALREADY KNOW. 80% SHOULD BE SPENT ON STUDYING THE 20% YOU WINGED OR DID NOT COVER DURING THE FOUR YEARS. If you winged your way throughout Law School, adjust the proportion to a 60-40 distribution. THE BAR EXAM IS MORE OF AN EMOTIONAL RATHER THAN AN INTELLECTUAL HURDLE. THUS, LEARN HOW TO MANAGE YOUR EMOTIONS. Remember that it is impossible to know everything and master everything in six months. Learn how to handle disappointment when you are forced to revise your schedule, when you try to answer a sample exam questionnaire and you come out with the wrong answer, and when others discuss matters you have no freakin’ idea about. 2. How many readings should I do? You can do ﬁve, four, three, two, or even one - there is no set formula. The rule of thumb is: READ AS MUCH AND AS REPETITIVELY AS YOU CAN UNTIL IT STICKS IN YOUR HEAD. When I assessed myself, I realized that I was strong in the morning subjects - Poli, Rem, Comm and Civ. I was weak in the afternoon subjects - Labor, Tax, Crim, and Ethics. So, I only did one reading each for the morning subjects, and at least two readings for the afternoon subjects. In fact, I did three readings for Criminal Law. I also read original cases for Tax.
Please note that one person can do ﬁve readings (as CLV recommends) and yet still fail the bar exams. Another person even did not complete one reading, but still passed. A person can brag about reading 300 ++ pages in one day, but could not recall a single thing. Another person can read only up to 50 pages a day, but he knows and remembers every letter of what he read. It all depends on your ability to process and store the information you read.
Nevertheless, here are some rules of thumb: a. Set a personal quota for the day, whether 50, 100, or 200 pages. To me, 100 pages, at 8 hours is optimal. The next day, go through those pages before you begin to move forward. That way, you reinforce your learning daily. By the time you get to the end of a book, you would have read it three times. b. While keeping up with the pace of your batch mates is ﬁne, it’s not foolproof. If a friend or batch mate needs three readings to master the material and you need only one, then he is no less than you, and vice versa. Just check with one another, but don’t be pressured to get ahead or along with their pace. c. THERE IS NO LIMIT TO READING THE CODALS. IT IS YOUR FAILSAFE MATERIAL AND IF YOU MASTER IT, I GUARANTEE YOU, YOU WILL PASS THE BAR. d. MASTER THE LAW, AND NOT THE MATERIAL. In short, do not master the Bernas Reviewer, master the constitutional principles enunciated therein. e. PAY PARTICULAR ATTENTION TO THE INTRODUCTORY PRINCIPLES OF EVERY SUBJECT. THEY WILL SAVE YOU WHEN YOU DO NOT RECALL THE PARTICULAR LAW OR RULE IN ANSWERING A QUESTION. For example, in my criminal law bar exam, I answered a question by discussing the differences between the classical and the positivist school of criminal law. A lot of difﬁcult tax exams can be answered by an understanding of the lifeblood theory, the beneﬁts-protection principle, etc. I answered a labor law question by invoking the principle in remedial law that “technical rules of procedure are not applicable in labor cases.” I PASSED. f.
MAKE A LIST OF “POWERLINES" PER SUBJECT, AND MASTER THEM WITH PRECISION. By “Powerlines,” i mean certain fundamental doctrines in jurisprudence which you should be able to state with full clarity and precision in your answers to the bar questions. Your ability to invoke them clearly is impressive, and most likely, the examiner will give you full points as opposed to always stating the doctrine in your own words. They give the examiner the impression that you know your law.
Sample power lines:
Both statements express the same point, but who do you think creates a better impression? List those doctrines down and be ready to invoke them with full conviction. g. THE BAR EXAM IS ALL ABOUT GENERAL RULES AND EXCEPTIONS, NOT ABOUT EXCEPTIONS TO EXCEPTIONS. THERE IS NO NEED TO USE VERY COMPLICATED MATERIAL. 3. What materials should I use? Be guided by my answer to the preceding question. That being said, this is the ideal formula: Bar Review Months: ONE or TWO REVIEW BOOKS PER BAR SUBJECT + ONE COMPREHENSIVE REVIEWER + CODE Pre-Week: CODE + RED BOOK / COMPREHENSIVE REVIEWER + AUDIO LECTURES (WHEN YOU CAN’T BRING YOURSELF TO READ) + RECENT JURISPRUDENCE There is only so much you can read in six months. AVOID PHOTOCOPYING THE WORLD. GET NEW MATERIALS ONLY WHEN YOU HAVE MASTERED THE ONES YOU INITIALLY ACQUIRED.
I violated the above rule, and I ended up spending more than Php 20k for a lot of materials which I eventually gave out to people. I also wasted so much time hustling to and from Blessings to get materials I never even highlighted. The hour or so you spend waiting at Blessings could be spent mastering the material you already have. For your guidance, however, here are the materials I used (note the subjects I marked as “Unli-CODAL”):
4. Should I just study on my own, or should I study with other people? For your ﬁrst reading, study on your own ﬁrst, and STUDY SLOWLY. When you’re done with your ﬁrst reading, feel free to study with others, especially by September. HINDI PWEDENG KULONG KA ALL THE WAY, UNLESS IKAW SI JAKE TABORA AT ALAM MO NA ANG LAHAT. 5. Should I keep watch for rumored examiners? TOTAL BS. IT’S A MONEY-MAKING SCHEME. TO ILLUSTRATE:
KUNG AYAW MONG MANIWALA SA KIN, BAHALA KANG MAG-SAYANG NG PERA KABIBILI NG LIBRO NG RUMORED EXAMINER.
6. Which Bar Review Program is the Best? Here are the PROS and CONS of the Major Review Centers: BASTE: Pros: For 14k, you get a copy of all lecture notes, Mock bar exams is only for P150.00, with discussion after. Good line-up of Profs, and Barrister service is great. Cons: Library sucks. ATENEO: Pros: Great Venue. Cons: Everything else. UP: Pros: Cheap enrollment fee, cheap food options, great and refreshing place for those who love greenery. Cons: Ang layo sa Makati.
CHAN ROBLES: Pros: Access to all review lectures and materials via the Chan Robles Bar Review site, so you can study in the comfort of your home. Cons: The Philippines has the worst and most unreliable broadband speed in the world. BEST DEAL GOES TO: BASTE. 7. Should I attend all the Bar Review Lectures? NO. Attend only those lectures for those subjects you are weak at. In fact, don’t attend at all if you feel it will be a waste of your time. BUT ATTEND THE PRE-WEEK LECTURES. 8. Where should I study? WHERE YOU FEEL YOU WILL BE ABLE TO BEST STUDY. You can study at the LSAC (if that’s your thing), at coffee shops (if you can afford it), at the library (with the very noisy and inconsiderate law students), or at home (if you can
handle the monotony). In my case, I left the country to be away from distractions. The money spent was worth it. Rule of Thumb: STUDY AT SCHOOL WITH OTHERS AS THE BAR MONTH APPROACHES. YOU NEED TO ENGAGE IN DISCUSSION WITH OTHER BAR REVIEWEES. 9. How long should I study? IDEALLY, 10-12 HOURS A DAY. OPTIMALLY, 6-8 HOURS A DAY. TREAT IT LIKE A “9-5”. RESPECT YOUR WEEKENDS. YOU NEED IT TO AVOID BURNOUT. 10. Everything you said earlier can be summed up by saying “It’s up to you.” But really, is there any set of principles/goals I should keep in mind? In an ideal world, I would have done the following things: 1. Do at least three readings (read - repeat - master) for all subjects. 2. One review book, one comprehensive reviewer, and UNLI-Codal. 3. Take a mock bar exam after completing every subject, and get feedback regarding the way I answer. 4. Studied on my own for the ﬁrst four months, and went out into the world only during the last two. 5. Avoided studying on the night before the exam. 6. Match my prayers with the corresponding hard work (“Nasa Diyos ang Awa, nasa Tao ang Gawa"). 7. EVERYTHING I HAD PREVIOUSLY MENTIONED, PARTICULARLY THOSE IN ALL CAPS.
See you in Part II.