The Side Bar Story: A New Way to Pass the Bar Exam and Law School

bar exam, law school

My name is William Hansult. I founded the Side Bar program, with my partner, because after years of experience, I learned two things; first, I knew there was a much better way to structure and deliver a legal education geared at allowing the students to actually learn more efficiently and easily without all of the “hazing.” And second, I learned that the “establishment” did not want me to have the ability to bring this new and innovative program to you.

The Tough Reality of Law School Drop Out and Bar Exam Pass Rates

My story is not unlike many others in that my parents instilled in me that an advanced education would be a path to the future. Although, while growing up, my Mom would often say to me that I would make a good lawyer, I ended up taking a different path and went to business school and eventually went on to get an MBA.

After working in management positions for several years, I was drawn to the law and decided law school was for me. So, in the early 90’s, I started law school and began my classes. As with all law schools back then and now, I had to attend classes, had to listen to boring lectures (which were not very productive), I was required to purchase numerous very expensive books, which really were not very informative. I was exposed to the old fashion “Socratic” method of teaching the law, which is designed not to really teach the law, but provides a type of “hazing,” which will force many students to drop out their first year.

I saw the drop out rate in my class and every other class too. After the first year, there was a 50 percent drop out rate. The second year saw an additional high drop out rate. My class was typical. We started with about 150 students and ended up with about 40 graduates.

I had come to realize that this is how the establishment has set up the system… to make the method of teaching the law so difficult that there would be a high drop out rate. I had only learned many years later that this is how the establishment likes it, and this is how they want it to remain.

Finding a Better Way Forward

From my experiences, during and after law school, I learned there was a much better way of how this education can be provided. With this seed planted in the back of my head, concerning the ability to provide a much better, efficient and easier method of teaching, learning and remembering the law, I practiced civil litigation for a number of years and never really did anything about it (due to the lack of time). Then, it came time to slow my practice down.

As a result, over an eight-year period, I developed a curriculum, structure and delivery system that resolves all of the problems I faced, and all law students face while in law school. Frankly, if I had this curriculum and structure when I was in law school, I would have sailed through.

After development, we decided to approach the establishment (the State Bar) with our system. How could we go wrong? We have developed a better mousetrap which helps people become better law students and thus, by extension, better lawyers, so the establishment would love to sign on- right?

Wrong! Despite the fact that before approaching them, we studied all of the laws and their own regulations regarding establishing this new system, and we more than fulfilled all of those requirements, the establishment would not even take the time to look at the new system, more or less do an analysis or evaluation of it.

Without even knowing anything about our system, they said to us, the way we have law schools teach the law is the way we have done it the past 100 years and we are not going to change. Then they said to us, do not bother forwarding us an application because it will be dead on arrival.

Both, my partner and I were shocked at the establishment’s reaction. And we inherently knew that under both common sense and the established regulations, they were wrong.

Because we knew they were wrong and because we are very confident of the efficacy of our method, we decided not to fight the establishment, but just bypass them and bring this method directly to current and future law students. Thus, the birth of Side Bar.

However, as we were finishing the course, other changes were happening within the law student community. As I discussed in my blog, Do Current Law Students Need Remedial Study and Different External Bar Preparation?, bar exam pass rates have been steadily decreasing, law school standards are on the decline and neither commercial bar preparation courses or the law school Deans were addressing the root of the problem.

Instead, law school Deans formed a committee and proposed a solution - simply reduce the bar pass cut line. Reducing the pass cut line did not address the actual problem and could cause other problems with regards to inadequately prepared lawyers, state bars, including the largest- California- rejected lowering the pass cut line.

The California State Bar analysis of the problem of the lower pass rates determined the issue was that unlike in past years, current students were doing poorly on the written portion of the exams, mostly the essays and (to a lesser degree) the performance exams, which was causing the lower pass rates. Despite the problem, the commercial bar preparation courses continue to emphasize learning how to master the multiple choice, MBE, questions, while their essay preparation is minimal.

Thus, it was obvious to me that today’s law student needed a new type of bar preparation course which will not only address the MBE but thoroughly master the written portions of the exam- with special emphasis on the essays- in a formula driven method. In addition, as with the special memory techniques developed for the law school remedial classes, I felt a memory method should be made a part of this new bar preparation course.

Therefore, in addition to the remedial law school courses, I developed a new and comprehensive bar preparation course that will not only prepare the student for passing the multiple choice questions, but all written portions of the exam. There is a special emphasis placed on the essays that are broken down by subject area, with each subject area having a unique method of how the state bars ask the questions. Then a formula for each type of question is presented. The result is that- once mastered- the student will be able to recognize which type of question is being asked and will almost go into an auto-pilot mode in answering it.

In addition, unlike all other commercial bar preparation courses, there are no boring lectures to attend or watch which simply put students to sleep. Because there are no lectures, the course is self-paced to the student's schedule. Several course outlines are provided for each course that is part of the memory technique. Memory is important, because all the bar exams are timed in a way that leaves no room for recall. The law must be on the student's tip-of-the-tongue when addressing the questions.

Lastly, unlike many other bar preparation courses which have different pricing levels from an inexpensive basic course to a very expensive complete course, I felt that a law student should be given an entire comprehensive course. This would include all course materials (including plenty of practice questions and answers) at a price comparable to or less than what other companies were selling as a basic course.

Thus, over the last few years, the Side Bar bar preparation course was developed to prepare today’s law student to pass all portions the bar and at a price that is very affordable. Feel free to check out our pricing or go straight to learning more about our bar exam preparation course.

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