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The Florida Bar: Pandemonium During the Pandemic

Updated: Sep 21, 2020

Andrew: My name is Andrew Dennis and I am the founder of Ibis Prep. I am joined today by Travis Tarpeh who is the primary instructor for the LSAT and Leticia Mora who is the primary instructor for the Florida Bar Exam. Travis, Leticia, it’s a pleasure to have you join me today to discuss the current situation regarding the Florida Bar Exam since it has been such an unprecedented experience for anyone currently studying for the Florida Bar. I’m sure a few anxious students out there will appreciate your perspectives.

Travis: Thank you Andrew, I’m always glad to help a fellow student in any way possible. 

Leticia: Same here! I’ve been working with a lot of students who are struggling in the face of uncertainty. I think this will be great for anyone out there who is taking the Florida Bar Exam in *fingers crossed* October. 

Andrew: Excellent - ok, I’d like to begin by introducing ourselves to the audience, specifically regarding our credentials relating to the Florida Bar Exam. Travis, why don’t you begin?

Travis:  I went to Florida State University in Tallahassee, where I graduated with a political philosophy major, minoring in law and society. I later went to Emory University where I earned a JD/MBA, and most recently I graduated from the University of Miami School of Law last December. Since then, I’ve been preparing for the mid-year Florida Bar exam.

Andrew: Thank you Travis. And Leticia, I know whenever Travis talks about his academic credentials that he is a tough act to follow, but I don’t think there’s really anyone more qualified to talk about the Florida Bar Exam than you. Could you please tell everyone about your qualifications and experience tutoring for the Florida Bar?

Leticia: Hi Everyone! My name is Leticia, or Lety for short. I graduated from the University of Miami School of Law in 2017 and performed very well on the bar exam. Right after, I began to grade hundreds of bar exam essays for a Bar Review Company. I have been practicing law and grading bar essays for the last 3 years and likely have assisted more than hundreds of students at this point. Last year, I went to Georgetown Law for my LL.M and have continued tutoring and assisting students throughout.

Andrew: Thank you so much Leticia. Very cool to have a both Leticia who tutors for the Florida Bar and Travis who is studying for the Florida Bar today. And in the spirit of a truly great discussion, I’m obliged to say that I passed the Florida Bar on my first attempt in February 2017 and I’ve tutored many students who have successfully passed since. People who know me understand that I am a straight shooter, and I’ll be the first to say that passing the Florida Bar was the most arduous undertaking of my life. But for me at least, the exam was given on the day it was supposed to be administered, in the format it was designed, on the material that was outlined. This year has been a totally different experience. Travis - as someone who is on the front lines right now, can you tell us the audience exactly what’s been going on? Try to explain it to someone who is not taking the bar exam and has no idea of what’s happening so far - I want all the ridiculous details! 

Travis: To get right to it, the experience has so far been difficult for everyone (test-takers, the FBBE, and the FSC included) to adequately prepare for. So far there have been three postponements (the last one being made less than three days before the then-affirmed test day), two significant test format and content changes, and several other issues related to the software required for the exam. On this last issue, after downloading the software some students experienced substantial damage to their computers and/or sudden remote attempts at accessing their online banking and social media profiles. And all this is occurring during a global pandemic which has significantly limited the job market for new lawyers. It seems, despite the above, however, that many test-takers are continuing to give their best efforts to maintain responsible study habits in preparation for the October administration of the exam.

Andrew: Thank you so much Travis. And Leticia, how has it been for you tutoring students this summer? What difficulties are your students experiencing?

Leticia: I think the students are emotionally overwhelmed and depleted. They don’t know when, and if, they will be sitting for the exam. Their entire lives are on pause. This exam is stressful enough without the added layer of a global pandemic and an uncertain economic market.

Andrew: My heart really goes out to everyone who is studying for the Florida Bar Exam right now. However, I am a firm believer in taking life as it comes and adapting to conquer whatever challenge lies ahead. With that spirit in mind, what suggestions do you have for students right now who are in the same boat as Travis and may feel a little bit lost at sea?

Leticia: I would suggest to give yourself a short break and get back to the drawing table. You have more time to study and hone your bar skills, don’t squander it. What topics are your weakest Prioritize those. Go through the Florida Bar website and do every essay exam from past years for those subjects. Use this time constructively and remember that slow and steady wins the race. One day this will all be behind you.

Andrew: That was amazing Leticia thank you. What about you Travis? What is your approach to studying for the upcoming Florida Bar Exam?

Travis: Travis: It’s been difficult determining exactly what the best study approach is, given recent changes. I have defaulted to studying for the exam as it would have been administered in July. 

Andrew: I agree with you Travis that the approach should not change too much. However, with the content adjustment, it is important to properly allocate your time to the right subjects, which I know Leti has been helping her students with. This has been really great. Thank you both so much for joining me today, I’m sure the students out there will really appreciate everything both of you have said so far. Is there anything else you would like to add to say to anyone out there studying right now?

Travis: I would want them to know that they are not alone and there are plenty of us going through this right now. As a member of the Ibis Prep team I have had the privilege of studying with Lety, and I can say she has helped me immeasurably. My best advice is to take everything in stride and continue to study confidently. I am very grateful to have Andrew and Lety as resources and would encourage any student who is feeling uneasy to reach out to them for help.

Andrew: Thank you Travis. We are certainly ready to help any student in need. Lety – any final words of advice?

Leticia: To take it one day at a time and to stick to a routine and a schedule. It does not need to be 12-15 hours of studying per day, but it does need to be consistent. I am here for any student studying for the Florida Bar Exam right now, whether it is to reinforce content, coordinate a study plan, or to help in any way possible. I go above and beyond with all of my students because I know the importance of passing this test. It all starts with a positive mindset.

Andrew: Absolutely. A positive attitude is the first necessary ingredient. However, I caution students against taking too positive of an attitude and underestimating the difficulty of the exam. As many people know, Florida has no shortage of attorneys. The Florida Bar is determined to uphold its standards and it would not be prudent for the FBBE to administer an easy test. As we say around here, “over-prepare, over-perform.” Best of luck to everyone out there! Just know that we are always here for you at Ibis Prep. Thank you for taking the time to join us today.

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