Bar Exam Info
There were a few requests for the info on the bar exam so I thought I would just post it. Of course, this is just what I did so take it with a grain of salt. Additionally, I don't have any financial interest in any of the study materials I used.
1) If you're considering taking the bar exam in the VI and haven't been licensed for more than five years and you took the MBE and your score is higher than a 133, you can transfer your score from that and just take the VI essay portion.
2) if you have been licensed to practice more than five years, then you have to take both the MBE and the VI essay exam. However, by taking both exams they allow any extra points from either exam to be added to the other one. In other words, your scores are added together. You need a 70% on the essay exam.
3) Others might disagree, but in my opinion, the essay exam was HARD. It is 12 essays - 6 in the morning and 6 in the afternoon. That gives you 1/2 hour per essay. I did finish each one but I noticed that others did not. It covered civil procedure, criminal procedure, domestic relations, wills, trusts, partnership, secured transactions, sales, agency, commercial paper, conflicts, and corporations. You cannot get by without the study materials!
4) My study materials were ordered from Cameil Rainford Brusch. She does have the only Bar Review Manual for the Virgin Islands that I know of and I thought her books were extremely thorough. The website is vibarreview.com. Additionally, I heard from others taking the exam that she did take phone calls and e-mails for any questions. I never did this (despite wanting to b/c of nerves re: the exam).
5) The website for all of the rules for admission and the contact person at the Superior Court is www.visuperiorcourt.org. Ms. Elsie Mae King is the contact person there. All I can say is: she and her staff are WONDERFUL. She answered e-mails promptly, took phone calls and basically answered all the pestering questions one could possibly have prior to the bar exam.
6) I took the PMBR class here in the states to brush up on the multistate stuff. I think it was worth the expense.
7) It's a lot of expense to apply to take the exam, then the cost of study materials and then, of course, a place to stay while you're taking it, etc. . .
8) Good luck if you decide to take it and any further questions, just pm me.
C Urchin 😀
I would second C Urchin that the essay was HARD and highly speeded. I am barred in Missouri and Massachusetts and I thought the essay for the VI was harder than either of those two. I did not feel like 30 minute per essay was a lot of time to ponder or write beautiful essays. The bar materials prepared by Ms. Brusch were very good and worth every penny.
If I may, I think the examiners are looking for recitation of the rules and standards, not necessarily prose or "beautiful essays". 😉
That might explain the short time frame.
Also, the VI bar has a 50% bar passage rate; almost as low as California's.
So, no, you are not the only person who thinks the VI bar is or has been hard.
Good luck again to you for passing!
I think Onika is right, recitation of the rules was what they wanted on the exam. There was not a lot of time to apply the rules to the particular fact pattern. And a lot of the questions just asked for a simple answer not something long-winded [something unknown to many lawyers 😉 ] Yes, I'm allowed to say that!
I also wasn't trying to say the essays were hard b/c I didn't think they should be; I was saying they were hard to impress the importance of studying for it. It is not a piece of cake as a lot of people from here joked about to me. There were no rum punches 😛 served and we weren't out on the beach with a take home exam!
Good luck to anyone going for it and I hope the prior post helps. Thanks STT Resident - Hope to be there soon.
C Urchin 😀
I can only speak from my experience so for what it is worth ....
I had interviews before I passed the bar exam, even from firms that said in their ad that you had to be licensed, and I've had interviews since passing the exam. (Here's hoping a job offer comes soon 🙂 ) I believe that you are more marketable being licensed, but it is not impossible to secure a job before licensure. There were at least two people that I met during the exam that had jobs. Probably more, but I didn't talk to very many folks because of nervous anxiety. On one hand, I would hate to move down, take a job, and then not pass and have to deal with the fallout (although I was prepared to do it). On the other hand, it is a lot of expense, work, and time to go through if you take it and decide not to relocate. I think it is personal preference. Also, if your job search takes you toward government work, you do not have to be licensed in VI to work for the territorial or federal government as long as you are licensed somewhere.
I took the bar exam July 27-28, and just learned that I passed! Results were released September 20. Actual scores on the MBE and essay portion are NOT released, just notification that you passed. The pass rate for this test administration was 52%, 12 out of 23.
Comments from the above posters from 2006 remain accurate.
I used Adaptibar.com (after about 2 months and 1100 practice questions, I was getting about 65 to 70 percent right, slightly below adaptibar's 70% target) for MBE prep and vibarreview.com (both the outline materials and the writing workshop) to prepare for the essays (Cameil gives excellent feedback on the workshop essays that really came in handy on the exam). I strongly recommend them both as an excellent value (under $1000 total for complete bar preparation = a terrific deal).
In case you were wondering (I was, before I sat for the exam) about how the essay portion of the exam is administered, here's the deal: for each session, (3 hours morning and 3 hours afternoon) they give you six essay questions and six blue books to write your answers. There is no Examsoft option - you will be writing your essays by hand, no laptops allowed. The timing works out to 30 minutes per essay, but it is entirely up to you how much time you choose to spend on each question - you have the entire 3 hours to work on all 6 essays.
The test accommodations at UVI were comfortable and quiet. Parking was available right outside the building. Restrooms were close by and clean. The test administrators were professional, prompt, and courteous. They informed us that results for the bar exam would be released in 10 weeks - mercifully, we did not have to wait that long. Results went up on the VI Supreme Court news website 7 weeks and 6 days after our exam ended.
Both the MBE and essay portions are hard, but the prep courses were right on target. If you can find the time to devote to prep, you should be fine. But, trust me, you will be tired after taking the bar exam!
Best of luck to future takers!