Bar Preparation

The University of Richmond School of Law has implemented the Academic Success program to assist our students in reaching their academic potential during law school and to ensure that our graduates are fully prepared to meet the challenge of the bar exam.

Our associate professor of academic success conducted and published a rigorous statistical analysis of the impact of our bar support program on our bar passage rate. See Linda Jellum & Emmeline Paulette Reeves, Cool Data on a Hot Issue: Empirical Evidence that a Law School Bar Support Program Enhances Bar Performance, 5 Nevada Law Journal 646 (Spring 2005) (excerpts reprinted in The Bar Examiner, Vol. 75, No. 1, February 2006).

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  • Bar Preparation Program

    Prior to graduation, all of our students have the opportunity to participate, free of charge, in an intensive supplemental bar preparation course. The course runs a full semester and provides a substantive review and intensive test-taking instruction for both the multiple choice and essay portions of the bar exam. The course is not jurisdiction-specific, and it is designed for students planning to sit for the bar in any jurisdiction.

    In addition, during the bar study period, two faculty members provide individual tutoring and bar preparation counseling to any and all interested graduates. The faculty tutors meet with graduates weekly and provide substantive instruction, critique practice essays, and advise students on effective bar preparation strategies.

    Again, this assistance is provided at no charge to our graduates. The program demonstrates our long-term commitment to our students and to their success in the profession.

  • Admission to the Bar

    Bar admission requirements and deadlines vary in different jurisdictions; you should research the requirements for the jurisdiction in which you wish to practice. Some jurisdictions have filing deadlines many months before the bar exam is administered.

    American Bar Association’s Bar Admissions Basic Overview

    State Bar Examination and Admissions Boards

    The National Conference of Bar Examiners and the American Bar Association publishes annually a Comprehensive Guide to Bar Admission Requirements for every state.

  • Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE)

    The Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) is a 60-question, two-hour-and-five-minute, multiple-choice examination administered three times each year-in November, March, and August.

    The MPRE is required in nearly every jurisdiction for admission to the bar, although the passing score and specified time frame vary in different states.

    Visit the National Conference of Bar Examiners for more information about the MPRE.

  • Character and Fitness

    All jurisdictions require a character and fitness evaluation prior to admission to the bar.

    Please see below for logistical advice and assistance in filing your Character and Fitness application.

  • Application Requirements

    Most bar applications require notarization. We have several notaries in the building; please inquire in the Dean’s Office for the current list.

    Certificates of legal education, good standing and/or graduation may be required as attachments to your application. The Dean’s Office can complete the form or supply a letter, if requested, by the bar. (Virginia bar applicants: see below.)

    Some bars require submission of fingerprints. The Dean’s Office can provide a Virginia Board of Bar Examiners fingerprint card. Campus Police typically visits the law school in the spring to do fingerprinting.

    Most jurisdictions require a copy of your driving record with the Character and Fitness application, available from your state’s departments of motor vehicles.

  • Bar Exam Preparation Resources
  • Virginia Bar Exam Information

    General Information: Virginia Board of Bar Examiners provides information on the bar admission process in Virginia, as well as the Virginia Bar Exam Application and Character and Fitness Form.

    Deadlines: Applications for admission to the Virginia bar must be filed no later than May 10 for the July bar exam and Dec. 15 for the February bar exam. The deadlines are strictly enforced, so please read carefully the instructions for filing your application.

    Bar Application and Character and Fitness Requirements: The Virginia bar application requires an education certificate. The Dean’s Office will send these certificates for all of our students. The Dean’s Office also will automatically send graduation certificates to the Virginia Board of Bar Examiners after graduation.

    Fingerprints: The Dean’s Office can provide a Virginia Board of Bar Examiners fingerprint card. Campus Police typically visits the law school in the spring to do fingerprinting.

    Fees: Payment is required at the time of filing and must be made by money order, cashier’s check, or certified check made payable to the "Virginia Board of Bar Examiners." For the current fee schedule refer to the Virginia bar Web site. When the questionnaire and application are mailed together in the same envelope, the required fees may be combined in a single payment. If filing the questionnaire early, pay only the questionnaire fee.

    Locations: In July, the Virginia Bar Exam is administered in Roanoke. Please make your hotel reservations early. The February bar exam in Virginia is in Norfolk.

  • Bar Loan Information

    For information regarding bar loans, please contact financial aid.

  • Patent Bar

    The United States Patent and Trademark Office provides information on the Patent Bar Exam.

    For questions about the bar exam or the bar application process, please contact Professor Reeves.

  • Law Library Resources

    The library provides a broad collection of study materials available to study topics relevant to bar exam success. Following are the most popular resources from the law library:

    • Wolters Kluwer Electronic Study Aid Library: Access to a comprehensive library of study aid titles and bar exam prep resources, including Examples and Explanations and Casenotes.
    • West Academic Online Study Aids: Access to more than 430 study aids, on many subjects from the Nutshell and Hornbook series, Blackletter Outlines, as well as numerous books on academic success and bar prep.
    • CALI Lessons: A collection of interactive lessons and tutorials to help students learn and understand the law. Topics include every subject on the multi-state bar exam, as well as numerous topics across many areas.

Bar Exam Frequently Asked Questions for Family, Loved Ones, and Friends

A note to friends, family, and other loved ones: your law graduate is studying for what many lawyers regard as the single most important and challenging examination of their career. We hope these frequently asked questions and answers will help you help and support them as they prepare!
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  • What is the bar exam?

    • The bar exam is the test all aspiring attorneys must take to become licensed

    • It is only offered twice a year: in February and July.  

  • How will my law graduate prepare for this exam?

    • Law graduates take an extensive bar preparation course and commit to at least 10- 12 weeks of full-time study before date of bar exam.

    • Graduates should treat studying as a full-time job and devote 45-50 hours a week to serious studying during the weeks leading up to the exam.

    • Graduates should create a regular and consistent schedule that includes adequate time to sleep, but they should not try to hold down a job or travel.

  • Wait — this is just another test, and my law graduate is great at taking tests. Also, they just spent three years studying law already. Why is this so stressful and time-consuming?

    • For those of us who aren’t lawyers, it’s hard to understand why studying for the bar exam requires such a big commitment.

    • After all, we know how smart our law graduate is and how hard they’ve worked during law school. It seems like they should definitely pass without too much e9ort, even if they take some time o9 to relax and socialize.

    • But the exam is uniquely stressful because of its combination of high stakes, financial burden, and vast coverage.

    • This is a high-stakes exam only administered twice a year.

    • Because graduates need to study full-time rather than earning income in the weeks before the exam, they may face financial burdens. Graduates also pay for a bar preparation class (average costs run from $2,000-$5,000).

    • The exam is a rigorous two-day test covering a vast amount of substantive material.

    • Test-takers must prepare for numerous topics and will not know ahead of time which topics will be tested on a given exam.

    • Many graduates’ employment is contingent upon passage.

  • How can I support my law graduate while they are studying for the bar exam?

    • Ask them if they have specific requests (some seek accountability and to like be asked “what did you do today? What will you do tomorrow?” and for others this feels like unnecessary pressure and would rather not discuss their study at all).

    • Take over routine household tasks and other responsibilities.

    • Encourage and enable a routine study schedule and protect your loved one from any interruptions.

    • Understand they must prioritize study and minimize other obligations. They will need to skip normal social or family engagements during this time. Be patient if they are slower than usual to respond to your calls or texts.

  • What else should I know?

    • Your loved one may be so focused on this exam during this time that they may not even seem like themselves.

    • However, with your support, this di9icult time will pass quickly and you can look forward to celebrating with your graduate when they have cleared this last hurdle