Andreea Deac is the Managing Director of accountancy practice firm Lexarox Accounts. She established the company in 2013 to support Europeans coming to the UK. To enhance her legal knowledge and support her business, she decided to study our LPC and LLM. After having difficulties finding a training contract while managing her business, she decided to take a break from the UK. She applied for an internship in New York and went on to sit the New York Bar Exam. We caught up with Andreea to get her advice for other students considering studying for the US Bar Exam.
By Elsa Tatam. Published 05 April 2023.
How did you first become interested in law?
I first became interested in law when I thought about the saying “knowledge is power”, as knowing the law is a type of superpower.
I moved to the UK when I was 21 from an Eastern European country. I soon became frustrated as I didn’t know my rights or my responsibilities and I had to learn everything the hard way. In 2013, I decided to open a business, and whilst it was going in the right direction, I was very anxious, wondering “what if I’m doing something wrong?” I tried searching for information online, I read a lot and asked questions, and I tried to find the right people to explain things to me. I soon realised that the ocean of information was too big, and I couldn’t find the answers I was after. I thought about hiring a consultant lawyer but, apart from the fact that lawyers charge very high fees for one hour, I soon realised that one individual lawyer would not be able to answer all of my questions. That was the moment I decided to enrol at The University of Law and find the answers myself.
What made you decide to go to New York and take the Bar Exam?
I enjoyed studying law and realised that I could consider a career in the legal field, so after graduating with an LLM & LPC degree in business law, I decided to apply for an internship abroad instead of doing two years of training in the UK. New York is a common law jurisdiction, and I found the idea of working and living there very exciting.
How did you discover your US-based internship and did it live up to your expectations?
I searched online for agencies that could me find an internship and I applied to a company called The Intern Group. They took care of everything, including accommodation, visa and interviews.
If you’ve never been to America before, I suggest you apply to recruiting or internship agencies that will walk you through the employment process, as there are many dos and don’ts that we are not aware of. They can give advice and help you with the visa application also.
After a few interviews with various law firms, I was accepted to do my internship at a commercial law firm in Manhattan. My role was similar to one of a paralegal. Some of my tasks included reviewing contracts, opening companies for clients, applying for visas for business clients, applying for various commercial licences in New York and much more.
It was such a lovely experience and I’m very happy that I took this decision. By the end of my internship, I was thinking about what I should do next. The firm I worked for had already offered me a position, but I was not completely ready to leave behind my life in London. Plus, if I was to remain in that firm, I would have been a paralegal as I was not licensed to practice law in New York at that point. My options were to go back to the UK and find a two year training contract to qualify as a solicitor in a competitive market; or to register for the New York Bar Exam, skip the two year training contract and qualify faster. I decided to go for the New York Bar.
Did your career ambitions change after starting work in New York?
My career ambitions and vision changed completely. I had never considered becoming a New York lawyer before having the opportunity to work there. Over the past few years, I have become more and more interested in how to make it possible and have been in contact with other lawyers that are qualified in various US jurisdictions. I’m sure this is the road I want to take for my career. I’m closer to my dream than ever.
What are the benefits of becoming a US attorney?
Becoming a US attorney is a very prestigious profession, so there are plenty of benefits (not to imply that UK lawyers do not hold the same level of standard in their field). In my opinion, there is much more to experience in the legal field in the US, as there are more options and opportunities to get qualified in various jurisdictions. If you pass the bar exam in one state, depending on your exam score, you can transfer to another jurisdiction and practice law in other states or territories without resitting the exam. Additional to the freedom of practicing your profession in multiple states, licensed lawyers in the US tend to secure higher pay than UK lawyers. Another benefit is that the US is a bigger and more international market than the UK, potentially offering you more options to choose where you want to work.
What are your career goals for the next year?
My goal for the next year is to get admitted to the New York Bar, as my admission is currently pending. I also hope to then start providing services as an attorney on a freelance basis for companies in the US.
How have your past experiences and qualifications prepared you for your career goals?
The internship I did in New York helped me imagine what my life would look like having a career as an attorney in the US. My studies at The University of Law, especially the LPC, were incredibly useful in preparing me for my career goals because I consider myself an entrepreneur and I can work independently without supervision. This is the reason why my main goal is to provide services on a freelance basis and not as an employee, which I’m very confident about.
What piece of advice would you give to someone wanting to qualify as a US attorney?
If you are an ambitious person and hungry for knowledge and experience, then you must take this challenge and go for it. You will gain an enormous amount of self-confidence and self-achievement, which for me was incomparable.
What are your top tips for passing the US Bar Exam?
Practice questions and exercises
Do as many exercises as you can. Focus 50% of your study time or more doing US Bar Examination questions. During the six hour exam, there will be 200 questions that you need to answer (you also have one hour break). It’s not just the knowledge that you need to take into the exam, it’s also the ability to stay focused for such a long time and keep your mind sharp and your body relaxed. This ability only comes with a lot of training. I did around 6,000 practice questions. Doing so many exercises, I start to notice patterns in the question format and answers. I also started to recognise the answers from visual memory and that helped me save precious time.
Essay practice is critical for developing your writing skills and speed. There is not enough time during the exam to write a perfect answer. Focus on writing fast; this will only come with practice. To develop this skill, regardless of how you chose to do the exam (hand write or type), rewrite the answer to the essay questions provided in your course and this will increase your writing speed abilities. Memorisation of the rules will also come from that. Always follow the structure of issue, rule, application, and conclusion (IRAC) or its variations. The examinators want to see your ability to follow the structure and write a clear and concise answer.
Allow yourself time to focus
It is important to understand that your US Bar Exam preparation requires more focus than any other exam you’ve done in your life. Apart from the exercises, you will need to read a lot. If you’ve had difficulties focusing on reading for long periods of time, you can try various methods to make it easier.
Set up small daily goals, like reading a certain number of pages or for a specific amount of time. Give yourself rewards after achieving each goal and carry on. When I started my bar preparation, I had been out of education for almost three years and found myself unable to focus for long periods of time. I was reading and getting anxious that I should probably be doing exercises or something else. I was thinking of reading as losing time that I could use more efficiently.
Eventually, I used the Pomodoro Method, which recommends setting an alarm clock every twenty five minutes and then taking a break for five minutes.
As it takes me a bit longer to focus, I prefer to study for the whole day, instead of studying for a couple of hours a day and then doing something else. I had days where I didn’t study, and I focused on my work or other personal tasks. I either study for the whole day or don’t study at all.
Look after your physical and mental health
I cannot stress enough how important is to look after your physical and mental health. You will probably have sleepless nights and most likely some anxiety, but my advice is to NOT GIVE UP. When you feel low, take a break, go somewhere nice, go for a walk, hang out with your loved ones; and then get back to your studies. Don’t ever forget how far you have come, you are nearly there and there’s no point in giving up on your dream.
Stay active. Physical activity will help you release any stress and keeps you healthy. You will sit and study for hours at your desk or in bed without moving, so please take this advice and do not underestimate your need for physical activity.
Try to prep your meals in advance. Get groceries once a week and organise them into days and meals. Choose easy and healthy recipes and don’t skip meals. Your brain works best in a healthy body. Try to avoid ‘relaxing’ with a glass of wine or any alcohol as that will not help you focus.
Be open with your family and friends and ask them to avoid putting any pressure on you while you study. Try to get away from all the distractions that might take precious time, including social media.
Don’t give up
There is a reason why this exam is so hard, and the profession so highly regarded. Only the ones who have the right attitude and didn’t give up succeed.
I failed my first attempt at the exam, and I had to change my attitude towards it. During my first try, I had the option to sit the bar exam remotely from my own home (July 2021) and I failed. For my second attempt (February 2022), I had to go all the way to New York and sit the exam in person, therefore I had the extra stress of organising my trip. In November 2021, I started studying again and I sat and passed the exam in February 2022. It was the best feeling in the world.
Interested in studying for the US Bar Exam? Find out more about our US Bar Prep Course.