My Bar Exam Status FAQ (J.D. Advantage)

Now that I’ve officially graduated from law school, I wanted to publicly address some FAQ’s I’ve been receiving daily from friends, family, and faculty regarding my bar exam / job situation. I’ll note that these are fair questions and concerns and that I greatly appreciate all the check-ins. I especially appreciate all of the advice and words of wisdom passed along so far. Hopefully this post helps shine some light on where my head is at. I also hope it’s useful for any other recent law school grad in a similar situation.

The Situation

I was incredibly lucky to land my full time job with Google last June on their Trust & Safety team. In May, I transitioned to my “dream role” in Government Affairs and Public Policy where I work on all things Internet and tech policy (aka the “why” that drove my entire law school journey). This career path is typically referred to as “JD Advantage” meaning that the JD is required/preferred for the expert legal knowledge but the license is not. As a public policy analyst, I do not need to be an attorney. In fact, being an attorney is really nowhere on my career trajectory at this point. So, what next?

FAQ

Q: Do you need to take the bar?

A: No. I am not required to be an attorney for my current role.

Q: Will you become an attorney for Google if you pass the bar?

A: Nope! That requires a lot of practice and expertise that the bar doesn’t magically grant anyone (#AbolishTheBar)

Q: Are you going to take the bar anyway?

A: Yes. Though I’m not required to be an attorney (and will likely never practice), I spent three years training to become one. I’m also too young and too new in my career to be closing any doors. And while I don’t need to be an attorney for my role, being an attorney does add some credibility that might offer some advantages in my current role anyway. That’s not to say that every JD Advantage grad should take the bar. Becoming an attorney is personally important to me, but YMMV.

Q: Okay, so when are you taking the bar?

A: Timing is up in the air right now. Having just transitioned to a new team, I want to make sure I’m giving them my all. At the same time, I understand (as many of you have warned) that the longer I wait, the less likely I’ll ever take it. The best answer I can give right now is that I have currently started some light bar prep (mostly evenings and weekends) and I’ll go from there. However, my job is my priority and I refuse to let bar prep interrupt.

Q: Which bar are you taking?

A: California.

Q: But <other state> is so much easier! Why not do that??

A: I went to a California law school and spent the past three years studying California law. I already don’t have the time to study for the bar. I especially don’t have the time to learn another state’s laws. Plus, I have no future plans to leave California. I prefer to be licensed in the state I’m putting down roots.

Q: I’m JD Advantage, should I take the bar?

A: It depends (it really does). I know a lot of legal professionals that never took the bar and they’re absolutely thriving in their careers (#noregrets). Best advice I can give is to create a pros/cons list (s/o to the person who gave me this advice!). If there’s a chance you might want to practice some day, it might be worth taking the bar now while the information is still fresh. It makes sense for my situation but it may not make sense for yours (and that’s completely okay). One thing that really helped me decide was speaking with a trusted advisor. If you have one (maybe a trusted faculty member at your law school), I strongly recommend checking-in / picking their brain. Most importantly remember it’s your choice. Trust your gut and do what’s right for you.

Resources

The SCU Internet Law Student Organization’s presentation on J.D. Advantage Careers in Trust & Safety

Trust and Safety Professional Association’s Job Board

Tips for Surviving the California Bar Exam by Eric Goldman

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