In this episode, I bring on the Founder of Celebration Bar Review Jackson Mumey, where he discusses the 3 bar exam myths that students face every year. Jackson has been coaching and tutoring bar exam students for over 20 years and reports pass rates above 80% in California and near 90% or more in Florida and Texas.
In addition to the three bar exam myths, Jackson also discusses alternative bar review options and provides 1-on-1 mentoring in his program for a price less than several of the main stream programs.
You can find Jackson at the following links:
“This name appears on the pass list”
Here is a full transcript of this interview:
Intro: You’re listening to the IPassedMyBarExam.com podcast. Helping you pass your bar exam with ease and confidence, Episode #10.
Dustin: Alright, hello and welcome! My name is Dustin Saiidi, founder of IPassedMyBarExam.com. And in this episode I have a guest on, he has been a bar tutor for a number of years; and self reported on his website, he has very very high pass rates: California above 80%, Florida above 90%, Texas about 90%. Today he’s going to take 3 myths about the bar exam and debunk them for us based on his own perspective of having done this for many may years. So, he’ll share his insights on how to handle those myths which we’ll be talking about here today. So, I wanted to bring him on so he can share these with you, and also give you an alternative to a lot of the other bar prep programs out there. So you can hear straight from him, to hear what his program is about as well. His name is Jackson Mumey, he is from Celebration Bar Review, and let’s just go straight into the interview.
Alright, hello and welcome! We are here with Jackson Mumey from Celebration Bar Review, and today he is going to tell us the 3 myths that you need to watch out for when studying for your bar exam and kind of debunk those myths which I think will be a lot of value to you guys today when studying for your bar exam prep.
So, how are you doing Jackson?
Jackson: I’m doing great Dustin. Thanks for having me on, I appreciate it.
Dustin: Yeah, thank you. It’s an honor and privilege to have you on here today. So if you want to, maybe, introduce yourself a little bit to the listeners and tell us some of your background and your story. I know you went to Georgetown Law School, and just tell us a little bit how you got to where you are now today.
Jackson: Sure. I’ve been teaching the bar exam for 20 years, but I started when I was at Georgetown, and realized that the traditional law school professor role was probably too adversarial for me. And I really got a personal enjoyment from working with students, and there are few things that create the joy as passing the bar exam, as you know. And there are probably a few things that give you as deeper low when you don’t pass. So, along with my wife Sara, who’s really the brains of Celebration; we started back in the olden days when the second biggest bar review was a company called SMH and they were owned by the Lexington Post. And SMH was my employer for a couple of years, and then the founders of SMH which were 3 Harvard law professors had died or retired, and we took over the course. And in the original, we were doing class reports, as much as like you would see today in a Bar/Bri class or Kaplan class.
And it was really my wife’s idea to say,”You know, I don’t think being on the road all the time is a great idea and I’m sure not everyone wants to sit in a class room for 6 weeks at a time.” And so we decided to venture out into home study. And I think we probably were the first real home study course for bar review. And so we rename ourselves, at that point, Celebration Bar Review because we’re actually based in Celebration, Florida.
The course in it’s early days Dustin, was barely about real-to-real tapes, it was audio cassette tapes, and photocopied books, and huge packages of things. And over the years, it’s obviously become more digitized; and now it’s online and we put the course on Apple Ipad, and we got apps, and lots of different ways to go. So we kind of stayed ahead to the technology curve, but also to understand that one of the real advantages of home study is that there is personal attention and mentoring; and so, we kept our course size small.
One of the things that’s been really wonderful for me is, when I started back in early days, my young daughter would sit in the office with me at home and she would sit on a chair in the office and listen to me talk to students about their essays. And I never really imagined that she was going to head off to law school but she did, and she graduated from the University of Virginia Law School and she is now a member of the California bar and works on our staff. So we’ve kind of come full circle. She’s allowed us to provide our offerings. So that’s kind of where we are today. It’s an exciting time to be in bar review just because there’s so much more information and material out there, and the technology has allowed us to really reach in to different areas that we probably couldn’t have done 10/15 years ago.
Dustin: Wow, wonderful! That’s a great story. Looks like you guys brainwashed your daughter into becoming a lawyer as well, right?
Jackson: Yeah, I told her, “It’s up to you. You can do anything you want. Be a lawyer.”
Dustin: That’s great. Cool! So, why don’t we go in to the myths. What are some of the myths that bar exam students, when they’re studying for the bar, you know there’s always kind of a stereo typical view of the bar. There’s things that you heard of that you’re supposed to do but you’re not really sure, what are some of those myths that bar exam students should know before they enter their bar prep, so it will help them do better and pass?
Jackson: I’m excited to talk about this, we did a video series on YouTube that has the top 10 myths, and I thought I just picked a couple of them today to share with you and your listeners. One of the ones that’s most contentious, probably, that people fight the hardest to hold on to even when it’s not successful, is the myth of spotting all the issues when you write your essays. You’ve heard that before right? Spot all the issues and write your essay and you should be successful.
Dustin: Right, right.
Jackson: The issue spotting is really a tough one to overcome in people’s minds because to some extent, it’s what they learned in law school. And what is appropriate for law school is not, as you know, often it’s not very appropriate for the bar exam. And the problem with spotting issues to me is really 2-part. The first is, just definitionally, what is an issue? I mean, if I ask you how to define an issue, what would you say about it? How would you define – I’ll put you on the spot for a little bit, but what would you say an issue is?
Dustin: Issues is, for me would be, essentially something that we’ve studied well. Like for example, you’re studying Torts, you’ve got this whole list of issues that could come up. One of the tips I give in my website too is, not only to have kind of an attack sheet, to look a set list of issues but to look for something that’s funny that’s going on. If you see something in a paragraph and like “Hmmm, something doesn’t sit right right here.” Maybe you don’t know exactly what it is but it’s probably pointing to an issue. But in those different ways you can actually spot those issues.
Jackson: Okay, and that would certainly make sense but, we’re talking about Torts or Contracts or most subjects. But if we have a problem Dustin, that dealt with collateral estoppel and res judicata in Civil Procedure or dealt with the 14th Amendment in Constitutional Law or with some more esoteric area of the law, I think you agree that it’s tougher to cold spot the issue or to remember the attack outline, right?
Dustin: Yes, definitely, especially when you get something like the Con Law. Yeah, I agree.
Jackson: Yeah. And that’s the moment when you’re sitting in the room with students you get what I call the bow, bite, and stare. They look like the cat in the headlights.
The challenge is that an issue could be what you described as, and I think that’s a good definition which you gave, but it also could be any legal problem that’s out there. We use the word issue in regular everyday language all the time. You know, “That’s an issue for me.” or “Do you have an issue with that?” It’s kind of what I call a place holder word, it’s got a lot of definitions and a lot of meanings. And one of the problems in communication is, that as a writer, you need to have the same meaning as your reader. Does that make sense?
Dustin: Uh-huh, yeah.
Jackson: And so in the process of defining issues, what most people start doing, if you are to picture a bow and arrow to a target in the center is the bull’s eye, but there are all those outer rings and so people start throwing or shooting their arrows, metaphorically, at the target, trying to hit something at the target, something on the board. And they hit as many issues as they can or they use an attack outline and they start shotgunning or scattering the thoughts about all these issues. Sometimes they’re successful, sometimes they hit enough of what we would think of as “the issues” to be successful on an essay but important fact, a lot of people aren’t successful during that.
So, what are do you do if you’re not going to settle the issues? Well to me, one solution, and I’m fascinated with your idea of what looks funny or out of order, I think that’s the best way to describe it. I use something that to me is a little more concrete, and that is, what is the dispute or the conflicts between the parties? In other words, when I talk about the dispute or conflict, that’s pretty clear language. You know, plaintiff wants X because he was hit by a car. The defendant says, “No, it’s not my fault because the breaks failed.” We can get at those thing a lot easier, even in the context of a constitutional problem. We can still find where the parties disagree, where the conflict is or the dispute.
So my view is, if you are literally trying to write a bar exam essay question, which by the way you’ve never tried to do and it’s quite a challenge to write a good hypothetical. But while your doing it, what you’re really doing is, here’s the conflict, here’s the conflict, here’s the conflict – because in law, as you know, we talk about case or controversy. We don’t talk about the strong man and so, the idea here is to focus in as close to the target of bull’s eyes as we can by focusing on the disputes or the conflicts.
Now, does that mean that we’re going to talk about every issue? No, probably not. To use the example of a Contract problem, if we have a formation of contract problem, I think most people would say “Well, I’ve got to talk about offer and acceptance and consideration and bargain for consideration; you know, from there going on.” Right? But let’s say there’s absolutely no dispute about the offer and the acceptance, the dispute is only about whether or not there is consideration. It’s probably a waste of a lot of time and effort to talk about offer and acceptance just to show that you know it. When in fact, they maybe issues, but they’re not the heart, they’re not the core or the bull’s eye.
So, one of the things that I think bar takers need to be very careful about, is this idea of going for an answer in an essay that is broad; in other words, it’s got a lot of discussion, a lot of topics, a lot of issues, but not very substantively deep. And so, I teach an approach that goes deeper on the big disputes, the big problems, the ones that are more easily agreed upon when people read a question. And then if there’s time and energy, you want to talk about the peripheral issues, you certainly can do so but that’s not where you put your energy. So, And I say it’s a sacred path. There are probably really few things that enrange former bar takers more than hearing about not issues spotting. And I’ve never quite understood why they’re so – I’m not sure what the right word is – why they’re still loyal to that system. Not a whole lot of attorneys in practice issue spot, and most people who are engaged in dealing with clients would say “I’m more interested in solving the clients problem than thinking of all the esoteric the issues.” So, it’s an interesting juxtaposition. So that’s one of the issues I wanted to talk about.
Dustin: Okay, great. So kind of more focusing on the main issue and really going deep on that, not trying to talk about every single issue of equal weight, but really going for that main issue and going deep on that. That’s kind of what you’re saying?
Jackson: Yeah, and it kind of ties in to one of the other myths that I think comes along with issues spotting, and that is the myth of memorization. Okay, memorize this. You know, one of my favorite tweets that I saw during the bar coming up last year, a student wrote “I created a mnemonic to remember my mnemonics, and now I can’t remember the mnemonic.”
There’s a lot of pressure of a bar student to memorize, and one of the reason for this really goes back to the way the way the bar exam was taught or the bar review was taught for many years. As you might know, those goes back to the dinosaurs, know that the only way that you take a bar review 20/40 years ago was to sit in a classroom or in a professors basement, and in some cases the hand writer notes which you do over a 5 or 6 weeks time period. You are cramming for the exam, that was virtually all the study that was available. And in that 5 or 6 weeks period you certainly have a better chance of memorizing a lot of material, but today people live differently and our lifestyles don’t really permit as many people to sit in the classroom nonstop for 6-8 hours a day for a 5 or 6 week period. That’s still really an affectation of what works for a big bar review company’s bottom line, more than what’s good for the student.
The brain research about learning that we have today, points out very clearly and consistently that learning happens best in context rather than pure memorization. One of the ways that researchers have discovered this is by doing functional MRIs of the brain, giving people a set of numbers or words and then putting them in the scanner and ask them to repeat them back. What they discovered is when you are using your memory, you are firing one relatively small part of your brain – your prefrontal cortex. And when it’s seen in a functional MRI, which is fascinating, that looks like a Christmas tree lighting up in that one range or one area. The problem is the rest of the prefrontal cortex is almost entirely dark; now the good news is you continued breathing, and blinking, and digesting, but that’s all handled back in the medulla. But in the prefrontal cortex, everything goes to memorization. Sometimes a student will express, and you may have heard this Dustin, where someone would say, “I feel like I fell as sleep during the exam. In other words, I just kind of blanked out and I looked up and it was 20 minutes off the clock.” Maybe you’ve heard that?
Dustin: Yeah. That actually did happen to me during my MBE test. There probably 30/40 minutes there I don’t know what happened. I just was totally out of the zone, I was just kind of putting on answers.
Jackson: And what we now know is that’s because that memory part of your brain has to be highly oxygenated, and in order to get that oxygen into your brain, it’s pulling from the rest of your conscious brain and so you’re having the effect of sleeping and zoning out. Now, that doesn’t mean you weren’t doing well on those questions, you were putting all energy to write on that memorization.
Well, here’s the interesting part, when you take someone and you give them a contextual problem; in other words, if instead of a hypothetical problem whether if it’s an MBE question or an essay – if we had you believed that it was a problem that affected your mother and father or one of your siblings or your children, you will approach it very differently from a physiological perspective. What actually would happen is that, now if we took a picture of your brain trying to solve that problem, what we would see is an even disbursement of light that are firing much broader across the prefrontal cortex including memorization. But the parts of the brain that we think are activated then are the parts that deal with logic, and experience, and common sense, and memory, and all these other pieces. So one of the things that happens is that people make better decisions when they’re not just working from pure memory. Now, in order to take advantage of that learning, one of the things that had to happen was that we needed to back-up the time frame to help people learn in context; in other words, instead of trying to put in all in the 5 or 6 weeks, we found that people were most effectively if you gave them 4-6 months of what’s called step repetition which means thinking like a set of stair steps in a house. You know how each steps goes down a little, and then there’s a lip that comes back just a bit, and then you go out and back. That’s what step repetition does, it allows for you to learn something contextually so that you know it rather having it memorized it.
What this does is take away the pressure to learn an outline, and then to somewhat, mindlessly apply that outline no matter what else is going on. When people use context, they tend to learn and retain more information. And here’s a really simple way to prove that; if I ask you what you have for dinner last Thursday night, unless you have the same thing every Thursday, it would be hard for you to answer that question, wouldn’t it?
Dustin: Yeah, I don’t recall what I had for dinner last Thursday, unless it’s last night which I had some pizza.
Jackson: Right, and then the memory goes away. But if I asked you what you had for the last Thursday in November 2011, you know what date that was right?
Dustin: Yeah, and I wouldn’t have know what I had for food that day, no.
Jackson: No? Okay, what if I say it was Thanksgiving? Would that make it easier for you to remember what you probably had?
Dustin: Yeah, it would be. Let’s see, it would. I would have to think a bit still on it, but it would definitely be easier.
Jackson: That’s right. And when the researchers asked that question of subjects, what they found was that when they had the context of Thanksgiving, suddenly a different part of their brain lit up than if they asked them from the last Thursday of November unless they happen to make that quick connection saying “Oh that must have been Thanksgiving.”
So what happens is that, contextually we keep information for years, actually. And we can retrieve it back because we have a context. People sometimes talk about walking down the street and they catch a whip of a woman’s perfume or fragrance and they suddenly remember their mother or their grandmother or a friend or somebody else. It’s because suddenly you have context for that memory.
So part of what we want people to do in the bar review is to rely less on pure, what I call rote memory, and to be able to learn more in context. Now to be fair, that doesn’t mean that no memorization is involved, but it put less emphasis on memorization than the traditional – what I would describe as an old school way of learning which just is, let me cram as much into your brain as I can and then you spit it out when you’re all done.
Dustin: I completely agree that, and I actually talk about it on my website too, that really learning in context is the best way. What is the strategy you recommend for that? What I recommend is people actually go in and focus more on doing practice essays as opposed to just memorizing rules. And then learn the rules through the context of the practice essay because it’s being applied. And I refer to that triangle of learning where we learn best when we’re doing and practicing and even teaching, you don’t have to teach rules, but when you teaching as oppose to just rote memorization as you refer to.
Jackson: Yeah, I absolutely agree. I’m not smart enough to think of triangles, so I just used the word picture of a stool, read like a stool. We have students read then we have them watch or listen to the material, and then we have them practice questions whether there essays are multiple choice questions that’s one iteration of the study. Then they’ll do it again a few weeks later in that same subject, then they’ll do that same subject a shorter period of time after that, and then they’ll do it again a 4th time even closer in time, and in the 5th time even closer. So that’s the steps repetition that we’re talking about. So, I think doing definitely beats memorizing. Absolutely!
Dustin: Okay, wonderful! Great!
Jackson: The third of the myths, as I say is connected, and this one is the myth of don’t ever repeat the facts when you’re writing an essay. And this is another one that comes highly defended by the guardians of the old world. The theory is to be that there were relatively small number of people writing bar essay questions, and those same wise and old professors that we picture stroking their beards even though they don’t have any, smoking their pipe in a leather chair, thinking “Ah! What a pice of wonderful magic this writing is.” Right? Yeah, no. Not really. It’s the second year associate at 4 in the morning, in their jammies, reading through blue books for $3.10 an answer. We come a long way from one picture to the other, in fact I talk sometimes about visualizing the bar grader and I used the picture of Beaker from The Muppets. Beaker with the hair and go *Beaker sound*, that’s the reader that you’re talking to.
And one of the problems, that occurs in this paradigm shift from one reader to another is that in the old days, I suppose you can get away without putting facts in because the grader was the writer of the problem and that certain is in law school, when you’re writing for your law school professors. But in the bar exam, you’re talking about a number of readers, and usually in the jurisdiction where I teach, I would say that an average essay might get 5 minutes with the grader. And that sounds like such a ridiculously short period of time but as you probably know, when you read enough answers to the same questions, after a while you don’t need a long time to make an evaluation on a piece of writing. So, why put any facts in at all? It would takes you from writing the issues or the aw or the analysis. Well, the reason comes back to the idea of memorization and spotting the issues, you remember what I said about memorization because I’ve said it a minute ago, if I said it a month ago it’d be tougher. But when I asked you about your Thanksgiving dinner, you had a context for what you were thinking about and in doing that, now you can start to remember the facts. Was I with my family? Did I travel? Where were we? Were we in a hotel? Were we at home? Whatever it might have been.
The reason that I like students to put a brief frame around each part of their answer that is factual is as much for their benefit as it is for the readers. For the writer, what using the facts allows them to do is to get a visceral reaction, an emotional response to the problem that takes it out of a pure hypothetical, and engages more their brain in the problem. Now, that fact sentence or sentence statement doesn’t have to be more than 1 or 2 sentences long. It’s not all the facts of the problem, it’s the facts that are relevant to that portion that they’re going to write about next. And in doing that they set the stage, they move into that problem, and they go from the facts right into the arguments. The arguments then lead to the law, and the law, on both sides leads to a dispute, then leads to an analysis or also sort of a conclusion.
So, by using the facts, what you’re doing is really establishing the outline or the framework for what’s going to come next. When people don’t use facts in their essays at all, when they jump in and assume that everyone knows exactly what they’re talking about, the big problem for most bar writers is that they start making even greater assumptions. And you probably seen that in essays that you’ve read, where someone just assumes that the reader knows and so they just start throwing out terms, and it now comes to the reader or the grader to start plugging all the holes. You know, I’m not going to tell you what that means or I’m going to put supra or upran or I’m just going to throw as many legal terms out there as I can. And suddenly what the readers got is just a mess in front of them. And while a law school professor might be inclined to fill in those gaps for you, not necessarily to get an A but, certainly not to fail you out of the course. Bar graders got no such motivation, and the bar grader looks at them and say, “I’m not going to do that. I don’t have time, it’s just not interesting, it’s not necessary, and you’re probably going to get below the median score.”
So, it’s important I think, to use moderation at all things. Certainly with the facts, moderation is great. But when someone tells you to never repeat the facts, I think that, that is a dangerous advice and that why I call that one of my top 3 myths.
Dustin: That’s great. I haven’t actually heard that from that angle, but yeah it completely makes sense. I think facts can be repeated throughout if it’s relevant to that specific issue at the time.
Jackson: That’s right, and relevance is really important. Just going on and talking ad nauseam about the facts won’t get you a very high score, but the facts are great spring board to get you into the problem as a writer and to give the reader a little bit of a chance to catch the rhythm of your writing, the style of your writing, to feel comfortable with the writing. I would say, in general, good essay writing is predictable. That is to say, whether you’re using IRAC which I’m not a big fan of obviously, or a writing system like ours which is fact and argument and application or fact-law application as we call it, or something else. As long as it’s predictable and the reader can see where you’re going section after section, paragraph after paragraph; you’re going to be just fine with that essay. It’s when you start throwing stuff up against the wall and saying “I’m in a hurry. I’m having a panic attack here or a crisis.” I think the bar grader would say, “Your crisis is not mine.” And that’s what writer have to be really careful.
So those are 3 of the myths, I’ve got some others up in our YouTube site and on our website. I always invite people to watch those and comment, there’s some great discussions that we have around those.
Dustin: Geat, yeah and I’ll definitely post some of those links in the show notes for the podcast too. What first intrigued me Jackson, about your website is, I didn’t take Celebration bar review when I was studying for my bar prep but I always try to keep on top of what’s going on in the bar prep world to keep my listeners educated about it. What really intrigued me was a couple of things, 1.) is I saw your program in the pass rates that I had. It’s actually extremely high pass rates, and then also the testimonials you guys have as well, and how many people recommended your bar prep. And when I looked at it in terms of pricing and everything else, I’ve felt that it might be a great alternative that people don’t necessarily know about to other bar prep programs.
So, if you want to talk about a little bit about your Celebration bar prep, kind of how it’s structured, and what some of those pass rates were. I don’t have right in front of me here.
Jackson: Glad to do that. We have been a small course really since our inception and that creates a really nice personal context. I do all of the mentoring with my students, my daughter’s still behind the scenes doing editing works with the rest of my staff, but someday I’m sure she’ll supplant me. But for now I do all the mentoring and that creates this personal bond and connection that I think leads to some of those testimonials and comments that you’re talking about.
The structure of our course as a home study course, is that while you’re studying at home that should be convenient for you but it shouldn’t make you isolated. So we use an online system with a a provider called Lore.com, and they are now providing online, kind of a like Facebook online for a universities and creating more of a social learning structure, and of course there’s some others like Coursera and Unity that do the same kinds of things. But within that structure, we provide books and outlines a long with the lectures that I’ve done in your chosen subject areas. And obviously I’m not an expert in every subject area, but I have staff that are, and they make me sound much smarter that I am.
The difference really is I try to teach from the generalist perspective. One of the great horrors of my early bar review life was sitting in classes being taught by brilliant brilliant professors in subjects like Wills and Trusts that just bored me to tears. And what they were taking their life’s work and trying to condense it to 6 hours, and they couldn’t do it because have so much to say, most of which was never covered in the bar exam.
So I try to teach with the end in mind, what you need for the bar, more than what you need to be an expert in a subject. And then, as we are talking before with your learning triangle or our 3 legged stool, we then have you practice licensed MBE questions, and there are about 1,800 or so in our course along with the answer explanations or essays or performance tests or whatever the other 6 components are. That’s a nice part for our students, and then we provide on top of that, a study guide which is a list of assignments that the student can follow through and have the order of assignments in the length of time for each assignment. And then in our mentored courses they’re directed to send that work to me and we conference by video these days, which is one of those great technology things, you know, Skype, Facebook, whatever, or by phone – obviously the old fashion way. And typically I talk to students between 10-20 times about their work.
So as a result of that kind of attention and accountability, which is hard to find in a big bar review course. I mean, if you’re a terrific student from a good school, you’re well motivated, and you’re just coming out of law school, you know the big box bar review at $4,000 may be a good value for you, but for the similar course in our program we charge $195 which is dramatically less. And so, sometimes people would say, “Well, I am getting less?” No, you’re actually getting more, it’s just that there’s so much profit building to the enormous structure of the bar review that prices have gone up because they could. And now as people are struggling in the economy and the number of law jobs, we just don’t think that that’s an appropriate way to behave. So, we’ve been more rigorous perhaps, in cutting back our expenses and passing those savings along to students.
We’ve got a course that provides more personal attention that’s about $1,500. And we’ve got a course that has all the bills and whistles, including an Apple Ipad for about $3,000, so even our best course with an Ipad that’s yours to keep is still less expensive than sitting in class room. And really all that’s meant is because of the greater accountability and the greater attention, we’ve got pass rates over the last decade in California were over 80% pass rate, in Florida it’s over 90%, in Texas it’s nearly 90%. And all those pass rates are, as you’ve said, they’re published on our webpage. And it really comes just from not taking the best students, necessarily, because that includes a lot of people that tool traditional bar reviews and failed before they came to us. But taking people and really working with them, where their needs are, and using all of the resources that technology and teaching education and research had brought to the fore. So that’s what what we do, it’s not magic, but it works really well.
Dustin: That’s great. That’s wonderful, so in terms of actual – the way that students can study for the course, so they can use it on their computer, Ipad or Ipod or things like that?
Jackson: Yes, exactly. Every student gets the online version which can be accessed form a computer or any mobile device and then students have the opportunity of adding a set of printed books and adding an Apple Ipad. The Ipad’s pretty cool because what we do actually is to load all of the lectures and all of the books and everything you need, for offline use. So, if you’re going to some place without wifi or while having in your car or while driving or whatever, you got it right there in the Ipad. So, that’s a pretty cool thing to use. I enjoy it.
Dustin: Okay. Yeah, that’s wonderful! And you’re lectures, are they – because obviously there’s no live classes, is it all video lectures on the program?
Jackson: It’s a combination of video and audio. The newer pieces that we ‘re doing are video, unfortunately that means looking at me, and I have a face that was built for radio; but we do some of that. We also use some interesting new whiteboard techniques, where literally I do a lecture on a whiteboard and that transfer’s over so the student is able to see that as a video. And we do some live document review where the student and I are together online going through the document that they’ve submitted to me. So, there’s lots of interactive ways to engage the student as they’re going through.
Dustin: That’s wonderful! And one thing that was I was really impressed by as well, I was looking at some of the testimonials you have on your website and I guess students have volunteered to give you their email so if other students want to email them and ask them some questions about Celebration bar review, they can do that. Is that correct?
Jackson: Yeah, we have this very loyal word of mouth. We don’t advertise much, somebody asked, “Why don’t you go to law schools and but a lot of swag and a lot of money?” And the answer is, somebody’s paying for that and that’s what you get from an $800 course up to a $4,000 courses, you know all of that stuff. But our students are quite loyal to us and they’ve written some great comments over the years and given us permission to publish their email addresses, and we invite people to do that, to talk to them. I think it’s a terrific way to get directly from a student what they liked, what worked, and what made the course successful for them. So, we encourage people to do that before they sign-up with us.
Dustin: Okay, great. And then I guess lastly would be, what option – I know you have a couple of different options, what options would you recommend for different people. Like, who would be ideal for taking the basic option you have? Who would be ideal for taking the more advanced, with the more advanced mentoring options? What if people are listening and they’re like “Hmmm, which one should I get?’ What would you recommend?
Jackson: The basic course option includes everything you need to pass the bar, but it’s going to not include my personal review of your written works. So, if you’re a good writer, if you just come out of law school and you’re already in that mode and you’re feeling comfortable, that’s a good option. If you’re a practicing attorney moving to a new jurisdiction and you’re comfortable with your writing skills, also a pretty good option, you take that basic mentoring. The next level of we call personal mentoring, and that’s where I talk to students typically 15-20 times about their written work; and this is a great option for bar takers who are repeating an exam, for people who may be away from law school or the practice of law for 5 years or more and just feeling uncomfortable, and even for somebody who’s pretty proficient but very time sensitive and doesn’t want to waste time trying figuring out if they’re on the right track, that option is a good one. And then at the top end, we’ve got premium and platinum mentoring which are unlimited mentoring and even including some third party resources that we call successful test application resources. These are really for the people who – I would say, are the kind of a hard cases, the person that failed the bar exam multiple times, maybe not come close to being successful with the exam, maybe a foreign trade attorney who’s really struggling with their English language skills. Because in that course it’s limited to a very small number of students, we provide you with not only the Ipad and all the bar review and unlimited mentoring but also some additional materials that deal with meditation and photo reading and some newer things in educational technology. So, if someone feels like, “Oh my gosh, I need every possible resource I can get.” you can do that and still spend less than you would spend for a traditional 6-week classroom course. So, a lot of options and in general we invite people to kind of go in for less than they think they might need initially because they can always upgrade, and we’d rather do it that way than oversell people.
Dustin: Okay, great! That’s wonderful, sounds like a fantastic break down. I do want to ask you one more question, I had an email subscriber ask me this; she graduated over 6 years ago, she’s never sat for a bar exam, any kind of a specific tips for her?
Jackson: You know, the first things is to start early. Instead of waiting for 6 weeks and then try and cram it in, she should begin for the 6 months out from the bar exam. And in general, if she can keep her studies under 20 hours a week, she stands the best chance of keeping that information accessible to her if she’s working through it. It’s a little overwhelming, as you know, to jump back into studying for the bar. The further you go in time for law school or practice, the more intimidating that can be. And it is literally that problem of how do you eat an elephant. And so you, want to have a course that’s got a pretty clear study guide list of assignments; how long you should take and some accountability. At the end of the day, it really helps to have somebody in the other end whether in the phone or the video or email who’s saying, “This is where you should be. How are you doing with this. What can we do to make it work for you.” so she doesn’t feel all alone and kind of overwhelmed by all of it.
Dustin: Okay well, great! Thank you very very much Jackson for coming on and sharing all these advice and tips for the bar exam. If people have more questions can they shoot you an email, can they call you? How can they get into contact with you?
Jackson: Definitely, let me give you my email and my phone. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org and my direct line, and believe it or not I am the person that answers the phone here, is 864-365-6083.
Dustin: Okay, wonderful! And I’ll have again, that number and the link to Jackson’s email in the show notes and on the website for all of you to have. Well, thank you very Jackson.
Jackson: My pleasure. And I think that the kind of work that you’re doing Dustin, helping people sort of sort through all the possibilities and to have kind of the moral advice is an incredible resource. It wasn’t there 20 years ago and I think it’s a good example of what the internet and all of the various new technologies allows us to do, and so it’s exciting for me to watch what you are doing.
Dustin: Yeah, most definitely thanks very much, I appreciate it. And hopefully we’ll have you on the show again at some point.
Jackson: Great! Anytime, I’d love to! And I’d love to hear from your listeners with any comments or questions that they’ve got.
Dustin: Okay, great! Take care.
Jackson: Great! Thank you, Dustin.
Dustin: Alright, there you hear it straight from the source,Jackson from Celebration Bar Review. If you’d like to give him a call, ask him about his program, his phone number again is 864-365-6083. You can also send him an email, it’s email@example.com. I’ll have some of the links to his YouTube video and also to his website in the show notes, but of course you can just find it on your own if you like it as well. So I hope you got some good value out of that. Go check out his program if it’s something you’re interested in, and this week get out there, go crush it, and always remember that your name appears in the pass list. Thanks for listening and have a great day.