Kaplan

UPDATE: Based on reader feedback, we’ve added information for Pieper Bar Review and Marino Bar Review.

Congratulations 3Ls! The grind of law school exams is over, or soon will be. Now you get to study for the bar exam — which, for some reason, law school didn’t really prepare you for.

Most newly minted J.D.s will be heading straight from law school classes into bar exam prep classes. We assume you all have been pitched all year by bar prep companies touting their costs, features, and success rates. With everyone claiming to have the secret to passing the bar exam, how to choose?

Since the last time we visited this question, bar exam prep courses have proliferated, offering a range of prices, technological formats, and philosophies.

As we here at ATL are all about service journalism, we’ve distilled the information about the major bar prep providers into a handy guide. For those of you mulling over which course best fits your needs, the crucial analyzing variables are cost, format, guarantees, discounts, and pass rate. Nobody want to have to take the bar exam more than once, so this is a serious investment decision. After the jump, check out an “apples to apples” look at the major prep companies…

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Now that law schools have been forced to be more transparent about the true employment opportunities for law school graduates, many prospective law students have changed their tunes and have decided not to pursue degrees that may come at a very high cost with very little chance of reward in the job market.

Other prospective law students, however, are diehards for the cause. They’ll go to law school no matter who advises them otherwise, and no matter how many warnings they’ve seen. Why? Because they, of course, being the very special snowflakes that they are, will be able to overcome the harsh realities of the job market. I think that’s just precious.

Even knowing that only 56% of the class of 2012 were able to get jobs as attorneys, these people aren’t worried about employment statistics like that, because they DON’T WANT TO BE LAWYERS. I’ll pause here for a second so you can digest that statement and try to comprehend it.

Now let’s try to figure out why the hell these people want to go to law school in the first place….

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Hey 2Ls, you might want to pay attention to this one. You’re really going to want to pass the July 2014 Bar Exam, because by February 2015 the exam is going to be new.

Really new. In the biggest change to the bar exam in decades, the February 2015 exam will have a new section: Civil Procedure.

I’ll pause now until the groaning subsides….

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Today brings us more evidence that the number of people applying to law school is dropping. A new Kaplan survey shows that 51 percent of law schools have cut the size of their incoming classes. Of those schools, 63 percent claim they are cutting in response to the weak legal job market.

While the job market is certainly a factor, we know that schools are also struggling to keep up their admission standards as fewer and fewer people apply to law school. Some people think this is a temporary trough and that applications will pick back up once the economy gets better.

But some people see a crash coming, one that will force a few law schools out of business…

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Not one single ‘F’ from the Class of 2012.

* “Whether or not the law is dictating it right now, the people are dictating it.” In light of First and Second Circuit DOMA decisions, in-house counsel are considering benefits for same-sex spouses and domestic partners. [Corporate Counsel]

* “I’m a woman of integrity. My emotions got the best of me.” A Dish Network executive had to publicly apologize for accosting a Gibson Dunn litigation partner’s elderly father outside of a courtroom after the Cablevision trial. [Am Law Daily]

* A potential farewell to the typical liberal bias in education: at the end of the day, Teresa Wagner’s political bias case against Iowa Law could alter hiring nationwide in higher education. [Iowa City Press-Citizen]

* Not prepared for the bar exam, and currently without a law job? Let’s give that school a “B” rating. The results of this survey pretty much conclude that recent law school graduates are out of their minds. [WSJ Law Blog]

* A soon-to-be high school graduate wants to know if he can “go into a creative career” with a law degree. You silly little boy, the law is where creativity goes to die. Hope that helps! [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News]

If you take the blue pill, you wake up in law school and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill — you keep reading Above the Law, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.

Apparently no one can be told what law school is. You have to make the mistake yourself.

The ability to learn from other people’s mistakes is a mark of intelligence, but it’s not a skill shared by your average prospective law student. Despite an internet full of information, they continue to make the same mistakes when it comes to choosing a law school.

The fact that prospective law students quickly learn the error of their ways when they become actual law students only seems to emphasize their failure. By January, I’ll start getting the first emails from 1Ls saying, “I wish I had read you before I decided to go to law school.” By springtime, people who shouldn’t have started in the first place will be asking me whether they should drop out. By the time people graduate, they’ll be experts on all the things they should’ve thought about before matriculating to law school.

Kaplan actually has a new study out that confirms this obvious reality….

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If Congress wants lessons on how things work from Jamie Dimon, they should have to pay him a speaker fee or something.

* Another year, another survey that shows prospective law students care more about the U.S. News Law School Rankings than anything else when applying to law school. In fact, it’s the exact same number from 2010. Kids are dumb. [Kaplan]

* Everybody is worried about what will happen when computers replace attorneys. I’m much more interested in what will happen when computers replace hookers. [The Atlantic]

* If watching our Congress ask idiot questions of Jamie Dimon doesn’t make you feel like we need vastly more intelligent Congresspeople, maybe watching them fawn over Jamie Dimon will do the trick. [Dealbreaker]

* I really hadn’t thought of this — in addition to your huge educational debts, your parents are most likely out there spending your inheritance. I swear, if I ever spend money on more education, it’s going to be on a post-apocalyptic survivalist class. [Law and More]

* Former TSA lady gropes current TSA lady after inappropriate groping from TSA. [Threat Level / Wired]

* In real life, unlike Monopoly, a bank error is never really in your favor. [Legal Blog Watch]

* Do the Republicans have an abortion problem? [New Yorker]

* Happy Birthday, Lat! Check out the very cool gift (affiliate link) that he received in the mail today — signed by one of the authors. [Twitpic via Twitter]

File this one under “Disappointing, but not really surprising.”

According to a new study, it turns out that quite a few law students not only break the law, but also post the evidence on Facebook. We’ve already covered why this is a bad idea.

For some reason I keep hoping Facebook has been around long enough that people –- at least those of us older than 16 –- would stop doing stuff like this and this. But I guess I’m just naive.

Let’s look at the study results….

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Did you take a BAR/BRI bar exam review course sometime in the past five years? Or are you taking BAR/BRI now, having paid for it prior to March 21? If so, keep reading.

As we recently mentioned, the deadline for joining or objecting to the proposed class action settlement in Stetson v. West Publishing Corp. is fast approaching (May 30). The lawsuit, alleging antitrust violations, was filed against West Publishing, which owns (but is selling) BAR/BRI, and Kaplan, the test prep company owned by the Washington Post. The class is defined as “[a]ll persons and entities who paid for a BAR/BRI full-service bar-review course from August 1, 2006, through and including March 21, 2011.”

Are you a class member? Let’s review your options….

UPDATE (5:30 PM): Please note the updates added to the end of this post.

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As we reported last month, it looks like Leeds Equity Partners will be acquiring BAR/BRI, the well-known bar exam preparation business, from West Publishing / Thomson Reuters. If you’ve taken a bar exam prep course, odds are that you took BAR/BRI — although there are alternatives, such as BarMax and Themis (disclosure: ATL advertisers, whom we thank for their support).

If the deal goes through, Leeds will get its hands on what would seem to be a very good business. BAR/BRI courses aren’t cheap, at a few thousand a pop (often paid by law firms, which aren’t very price-sensitive). And since BAR/BRI has had its bar-prep infrastructure in place for a long time — curricula, instructors, etc. — its marginal costs for each new teaching cycle aren’t that high. In short, BAR/BRI seems like a money-making machine.

(Note: This analysis about the economics of BAR/BRI is somewhat speculative. Please correct us, by email or in the comments, if we’re wrong.)

But Leeds will also inherit complaints about BAR/BRI. Some are of the consumer variety — e.g., the website going down when people were trying to pick their course locations, the date by which books must be returned in order to get deposits back being set too early, unfair late fees, etc.

And some complaints are of the legal variety, in the form of antitrust class actions alleging collusion between (1) West Publishing, the owner of BAR/BRI, and (2) Kaplan Inc., the test prep company owned by the Washington Post Company that is known in the legal community for its LSAT courses. One of the lawsuits alleges “that BAR/BRI agreed not to compete in the LSAT business and that Kaplan agreed not to compete in the bar review business, thereby allocating to BAR/BRI the market for full-service bar review courses in the United States.” (Now, of course, Kaplan has its own full-service bar review course.)

To the legal complaints we now turn. You should follow along, since there might be some money in it for you….

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