Bar (Application) Review

One thing law students are not told about when pushing towards the finish line of law school is how much information and organization is needed to complete the application to take the Massachusetts bar exam. Two weeks ago, as I sat in an information session hosted by Dean Muir, it dawned on me how completion of the bar application is really an encapsulation of your life. Between letters of recommendation, the character and fitness application and the laundry list of employers that are required, the bar application tests your memory and investigative skills to track down the missing pieces of your past years. I can only speak about the application for Massachusetts, but from what I understand, it is the same for bar applications for other states as well.

I recently started working on my application to sit to take the Massachusetts bar exam. When recently completing the employment section of the application, I was shocked at how many different employers I had since I turned eighteen. This included college internships, part time summer jobs, jobs in between undergraduate and law school and law school internships. Not only is it required to get the correct contact information for the employer but it is also required to obtain when you worked for them. Tracking all this information down and figuring out who to contact to get the information is part of the time consuming process that is the Massachusetts bar application.

Another element of the application that caught me off guard was the letter of recommendation requirement. Perhaps it was my own ignorance but before exploring the requirements for the application, I did not expect to have to get two different letters of recommendations. In addition, the recommendation letters differ from what is required for a job application. This means that the individual who is writing your recommendation letter has to discuss not how you would be as an employee or student, but instead, your commitment and character to practice of law. This requires a much deeper level of knowledge. It is valuable advice to start thinking about developing relationships with professors and colleagues who know you well enough to discuss these certain characteristics. Luckily, I had two people in mind, both coming as a result of connections at BU School of Law, who I could turn to right away that would have no problem writing this type of recommendation for me.

Finally, the character and fitness requirement of the bar application is an animal in and of itself. The way the questions are phrased on this part of the application leave you with constant doubt if you are doing the right thing. The most important advice one can have, which was relayed by Dean Muir, is to disclose anything and everything if you are in doubt. Because this part of the application is important and looked into carefully by the Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners, it is important to carefully evaluate whether there is anything that you need to disclose, however minor it may be. It is equally important to discuss any possible situations with the support staff at BU Law.

Overall, the Massachusetts bar application can be an arduous and time consuming process. Gratefully, BU Law does a good job of informing all applicants of the requirements for completion well in advance of the mid-May deadline to complete the application.

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