Three Tips on Applying for The Florida Bar Resourcefully
Plunging into law school shocks your ability to manage time, and it becomes dangerously easy to procrastinate if something isn't due tomorrow. Application seems too daunting to start? The following tips help with regaining control and making the best choices when allocating your time/resources.
Start EarlyRegistering with the Board as a 1L saves money. A discounted registration fee is very appealing when you consider how much you’re borrowing to pay for school. Every dollar helps, and if you wait until your 3L year, you’re paying ten times more. A chart on the FAQs page of the Board’s website shows how quickly the window closes on the opportunity for the discounted fee (hint: it’s well before the end of your first year).
Early registration also starts the ball rolling on your background character & fitness investigation, giving those who take the time a better shot at getting cleared before graduation. Once you’re cleared, internships, externships and clinic opportunities open that remain unavailable to those who've waited.
Early registrants have a leg-up after converting to a regular application at the start of 3L year because their preliminary background investigation is out of the way. The Board can wrap up its final investigation stages much sooner and you have only two things left to focus on after graduation: passing the Bar exam and finding a job.
Putting off filing your Bar application until your 3rd year, or worse, filing it after you graduate rockets stress levels off the charts. You’re now studying for the Bar exam AND dealing with even greater unemployment risks because you’re competing with those who’ve been cleared and sworn in. Most employers are looking for attorneys who can walk right into a courtroom on day one, and here’s where postponing the application process probably hurts most.
Treat registering with the Board as an assignment that’s due before the end of the first semester. In hindsight, you'll be really happy you did.
Take Your TimeWe’re used to Amazon Prime-style gratification that doesn’t take much thought or effort. That’s not where you want your mind to be when completing your student registration or converting it to a regular application.
Students spend thousands of dollars in Bar prep courses. They take months to prepare for the Bar exam. Completing the Bar application should be approached with no less diligence and care.
Don’t GuessToo many applicants have told me that they dove into answering application questions unprepared, estimating and glossing over details just to meet a filing deadline.
Filing your Bar application isn’t a race and guessing invites grief. You probably already know that lack of candor, even if it's unintentional, is the primary reason for admission denial.
At the Bar registration/application phase, the candor ball is still in your court before you file. You have total control over the quality of your responses, and the Board expects nothing less than the truthfulness that results from due diligence. You need to carve out the time it takes to gather any documents that will help with drafting the most balanced, complete and honest answers.
For example, if you’ve missed paying a few bills on time, pull a credit report on yourself. Read it very carefully. You may be surprised to find delinquencies, collections, or other problems that you had no idea existed. Knowing about those problems enables you to accurately report them on your Bar application.
Investigating your background also gives you an opportunity to resolve any problems you discover before the Board discovers them for you. A response on your application that includes not only a thorough explanation of a problem but also describes its resolution is priceless.
The Board pulls your credit report and compares it with your application responses. If you didn’t take the time to investigate and there's a problem...you've heard of what can happen.
The Board accepts no excuses because their website contains a link to very detailed checklists specifically designed as references for completing your registrant Bar application. Following the checklist alone should help an applicant avoid most of the problems encountered when relying on a less-than-perfect memory.