Ready? Get set! STUDY! Our Curriculum for the FYLSE

Ready? Get set! STUDY! Our Curriculum for the FYLSE

by Thea Chhun

Legal Apprentice 

I’ve always loved and dreaded deadlines.  For us apprentices, we become eligible to take the First Year Law Student’s Exam (affectionately known as the Baby Bar) a year into the program.  So having that oh so far away FYLSE a year away made for a more…flexible… schedule.   We could play around with trying out law books, exploring different learning styles (flow charts, online media, videos), and even testing our knowledge with a good ol’ Jeopardy game.2013.08.01 LOL Cafe Thea

…And then the New Year rolled around.  Some of us apprentices become eligible to take the FYLSE in June, 2014, which is…YIIKES…only six short months away!!!  That’s the dread part—knowing that you have only so much time left before a deadline.  But the good news—it really helps focus in on what’s important.  The FYLSE is a day-long exam: 3 topics (Torts, Criminal Law, and Contracts), 3 hours to answer 100 multiple choice questions, and 4 hours allotted for 4 essay questions.  By working backwards from June 2014 to now, January 2014, we were able to create a schedule that took into account which books worked for us, what we needed to know for the exam, the different ways we were going to be tested (through essays and multiple choice questions), and how long we had to cover each of the 3 topics (6 months for 3 topics).

The first 6 exploratory months were useful in realizing which books worked for us in what capacity and that’s how we ended up choosing the ones that we did.  For example, we realized that the Examples and Explanations series are great in providing both overviews and in-depth discussions of the topics, the Crunchtime series are great for a brush-up/refresher, and the Barbri series are great as detailed outlines and references to important concepts and terms.

And through one hella productive January 2, 2014 morning, we hammered out a game plan/lesson plan.

Drum roll please:

Sample Curriculum for FYSLE Prep*

(Click here to see the full curriculum)

2013.09.23 Joy Cafe Law LibraryHappy studying!

Report Back from First Year Law Students Exam

So I took the First Year Law Students Exam (FYLSE) in June and now, six months later, I’ve finally had enough time to recover from the trauma to write about it!

Several attorneys had told me not to worry about the exam. They told me that if I made it to and through UC Berkeley, then I must be good enough at taking tests to pass the FYLSE. But I have to admit that, a week before the exam, when I found out that the pass rate for the exam hovers around 15 to 20%, I worried. A lot. Despite having studied a little bit every week for months and my last minute intense cramming after I saw those pass rate numbers, I did not pass the exam.Multiple Choice Bubble Answer Sheet

The exam is very similar to the actual bar exam except that it only covers three topics: criminal, contract, and tort law. The full California Bar exam covers those topics and nine others. The multiple choice section is full of questions that ask you to pick the “best” answer, when there are 2 or 3 generally seemingly appropriate answers that I would definitely use to argue a client’s case in the given scenario. But a good argument to make in front of a judge or jury is not sufficient for the FYLSE. The Committee of Bar Examiners expects you to know what’s “best.” Additionally, in the three areas of law on the FYLSE there are many rules, exceptions to the rules, and exceptions to the exceptions, which are all tested. There are also some terms in Latin and some other languages, which only lawyers use in the English-speaking world, and which describe relatively simple concepts that have commonly understood words in English. But you need to know some foreign terms to be a lawyer, I guess.

If you want to focus your apprenticeship on subjects other than criminal law, contracts, and torts, then studying those topics for the exam might feel abstract and trivial. I found it difficult to motivate myself to study until a few weeks before the exam. Even then, I was mostly motivated by the fact that I wanted to pass the exam and be done with it so I wouldn’t have to spend $705 again to re-take it.

You can take the essay portion of the exam on your own laptop if you pay an extra fee to install software on your computer to use during the exam. I chose to do that because I can type much faster than I write. I got a zillion emails from the software company in the weeks before the exam regarding instructions for using the software, which made the software seem more complicated than it actually is. That was more stressful than actually studying the material, at least in my experience since I’m not quick to learn new software programs! But the software is actually really easy to use and not worth worrying much about.

Note that there are lots of silly rules about what you can bring with you to your desk during the exam. Items such as wallets, cell phones, water bottles and maybe even pencil sharpeners are prohibited in the exam room.

In order to prepare for my next attempt at the FYLSE I’ve been meeting up every week with the other Like Lincoln apprentices to hold ourselves and each other accountable to our plan to study a little bit every week. Now that we are less than 6 months away from the next FYLSE date we have decided to meet up 3 times per week for group study sessions; some structured exam review time and some unstructured time that we’ve just set aside to read and discuss our study materials. We each bought copies of Examples & Explanations and Emanuel’s CrunchTime books on each of the three exam topics and we made a plan to read 90 to 160 pages per week together. Being a part of a group of other apprentices with a solid, well-paced plan is making me feel a lot more confident about the next time I take the exam!

New article: How to Become a Lawyer Without Going to Lawschool

CatJohnsonA new Shareable article by Cat Johnson does a great job explaining how and why to become a legal apprentice. My favorite quote (from our very own Chris Tittle) alludes to the powerful impact legal apprenticeships can have on our legal system: “Laws protect those who write and defend them. So, in a country where over 88 percent of lawyers are white, 70 percent are men, and 75 percent are over the age of 40, is it surprising that our legal system repeatedly fails to serve the interests of youth, women, communities of color, and other unrepresented groups?”

Read How to Become a Lawyer Without Going to Lawschool here.

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