How to Pass the California Bar Exam – Free Workshop

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Hello all,

Good luck to everyone who is waiting for July bar results!

For those of you preparing for the February 2015 bar exam, I wanted to let you know that I will be teaching another free, “How to Pass the California Bar Exam Workshop” on December 3, 2014. This workshop will focus on writing for the California bar examiners as well as: test taking strategies, study plans, and simply how to get through this grueling exam with passing results! If you have failed the bar exam previously, this workshop is an excellent program to jumpstart your studies and to figure out how to prepare differently this time. I will also address the updates to the February 2015 bar exam. The workshop is limited to thirty attendees, so please sign up early to secure your spot.

Unfortunately, we cannot make this workshop available online. However, we hope to see you in person! To register, click here and be sure to check out our Bar Exam Cram Session Website for our other course offerings.

All the best to everyone who is waiting for July bar results!

Lisa Duncanson

Founder/Program Director Bar None Review and Bar Exam Cram Session

Free “How to Pass the California Bar Exam” Workshop for the July 2014 Bar Exam

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We are having one more free, “How to Pass the California Bar Exam Workshop” for the July 2014 Bar Exam.

When: Tuesday, June 3rd from 7:00 pm to 9:30 pm

Where: Los Angeles, California*

Our workshops fill up quickly. Reservations are on a first-come, first-served basis. This workshop is free and includes free bar exam templates. Space is limited.

Click here to make your reservation

All the best to everyone studying for the July 2014 bar exam!

Lisa Duncanson
Program Director/Founder
Bar None Review
(213) 529-0990

California Bar Exam Predictions: July 2013 Bar Exam – Part One

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First of all I want to wish you all the very best of luck in your studies this week and I want to thank you for following my blog. I am truly humbled by the responses from examinees who have sent emails – thank you so much.

If you would like to reach me directly, please feel free to send me an email at: pass@barnonereview.com

Today, this blog will likely reach over 400,000 views. I am deeply humbled by the following. It truly gives me great satisfaction to be able to reach so many and to provide assistance to those who are in the midst of their bar studies.

A few caveats about my “predictions” . . . 

If you have been following my blog you will know that I do not really like to call my “predictions” predictions. I do not claim to be able to predict the bar exam. I have simply come up with what I call essay scenarios that I think might be worth considering. In the coming days (today included) I will be releasing these essay scenarios. Know that no one can predict what will be tested on the bar exam. And, anyone directing their studies completely around what someone has “predicted” is not making a sound bar exam prep decision. That being said, it cannot hurt to entertain potential essay scenarios – especially if this causes you to seek out examples and to improve the focus and intensity of your review. You should, of course, be prepared for any subject as any subject can be tested.

My commitment to my enrolled students: Please understand that my students who pay to take my course do not appreciate it if I release our “predictions” weeks in advance to the world. They pay for the privilege of our insights – at least they see it that way. So it simply isn’t fair to give away part of what they pay for to everyone else for free. In past rounds I have not made this available outside of our course. However, last year, after being asked over and over again, and after discussing it with my paying students (how they felt about it) I decided to release “predictions” – or – possible essay scenarios.

So here is the plan, As I have done in the past year, I will release the essay scenarios I have come up with over the coming days (one or two topics a day). To do anything else would really not be fair to my enrolled students. I hope you understand.

So here are a few thoughts on what I think could be tested:

Constitutional Law: Note: this was on my list of possible repeat topics for the last bar exam. It did not repeat and therefore, now that it has been skipped for an entire bar round, it is a subject that many are predicting. I also think that Constitutional Law is a very likely subject for testing. Possible areas of testing within Constitutional Law: I think an essay that requires you to address the constitutionality of a statute (state or federal) which can then require you to address due process (both substantive due process and procedural due process), commerce clause, dormant commerce clause (if it is a state statute regulating an interstate activity). While this is not the only area that could be tested, it is an area that the bar examiners have not tested as recently as some of the other testable areas. Free Handout: I provide a free downloadable approach for determining the constitutionality of a state or federal statute –  this approach will tell you when you should and should not address 11 Amendment immunity and provides a checklist of the order of things to go through in writing an exam like this – often students do not understand how a constitutional law question can bring up many different issues – 11th Amendment Immunity, Due Process, Equal Protection and Commerce Clause OR Dormant Commerce Clause can all very easily be tested on the same essay exam. So it is often not a matter of which you discuss but, how quickly you can manage to discuss all of these topics. I will be making this handout available again through this blog later today.

Evidence (or as I like to call it: Off to the races):  Like most people would predict, I am leaning towards an Evidence exam. Transcript style has not been tested in some time so I would not be surprised if you see that. Bear in mind, most are predicting this topic. As a result, most have given this area a bit of extra treatment in their review. Evidence essays are typically racehorse exams. This is important to keep in mind because you will need to work quickly and begin writing your answer as soon as possible to allow for enough time to address as many relevant (sorry for the bad pun) issues as possible. Be sure to know your form objections (for example: leading, non-responsive, assumes facts not in evidence, etc.). A great way to prepare for any essay tested subject is to review past essay exams. This is particularly true of Constitutional Law and Evidence. By reviewing past exams you can develop an efficient approach (which is necessary for both of these topics as both typically involve many issues on just one fact pattern).

POSSIBLE REPEAT SUBJECTS APPEARING ON THE JULY 2013 BAR EXAM (third time could be a charm):

Every bar round, the bar examiners repeat subjects from the prior bar round. Therefore, you should not eliminate any topic or presume that a subject will not be tested this July simply because it showed up on the last bar round or, showed up on the last two consecutive bar rounds. That’s right – subjects repeat sometimes back to back – three times. Civil Procedure has appeared back to back three times as have many other subjects. Therefore, I would not be surprised – nor should you be surprised – if you were to see either Civil Procedure OR Criminal Law – tested again (for a third time in a row) on the this next bar exam. Below are a few scenarios to consider should you see either Civil Procedure repeat or Criminal Law repeat:

Civil Procedure could come up again:  Some of the most commonly tested issues in civil procedure are: jurisdiction and collateral estoppel and res judicata. Another area that has not been tested all that recently is supplemental jurisdiction (bear in mind that if supplemental jurisdiction is tested, it will likely be what I refer to as a “tack on” issue or call because it would not be a large part of the question, but rather a shorter call within an essay exam). Typically you would expect supplemental jurisdiction to come up in the context of a Federal Diversity Jurisdiction essay. Class actions has not been tested in a very long time – I keep thinking that is due, but, If you look at what is most often tested in Civil Procedure it is jurisdiction (PJ and SMJ and Venue) and Collateral Estoppel and Res Judicata, it is not all that unusual that it has not come up in a while. Still, it is an area (Class Actions) that I would be certain to be familiar with in the event that it is tested. Even though class actions has been absent for many bar rounds, it is still no more likely in my mind, than jurisdiction or Collateral Estoppel and Res Judicata. What about California Civil Procedure? Well, one area that has yet to be tested on the California bar exam is the area of SLAPP Suits and Anti-Slapp Motions. I will write more about this possible area of testing in the coming days. In the meantime, I would give it a quick review.

Civil Procedure Tip: Be sure not to mix up Res Judicata and Collateral Estoppel – make sure you know which one is issue preclusion and which one is claim preclusion. Here is one way to keep the two straight: the “C”s do not go together – in other words: Collateral Estoppel is Issue Preclusion and Res Judicata is Claim Preclusion. Should you get tested on this area – be certain to make note of the California (and minority) “primary rights” view with respect to claims. If you need further explanation of the “primary rights” view – please let me know and I will add a bit more here.

Criminal Law – especially – crossed with Criminal Procedure could come up again: Criminal Law was tested last on the February 2013 bar exam and on the July 2012 bar exam. However, Criminal Procedure has not been tested recently and neither has a murder exam. (The  February 2013 exam tested accomplice liability heavily and did not include any criminal procedure and the July 2011 exam tested larceny and other possession crimes but, no murder). As a result, I think that a Criminal Law murder exam, crossed with a significant amount of Criminal Procedure is a good possibility. I also think that an exam with only Criminal Procedure is possible as well.

NOTE: I do not think it is incredibly likely that you will see both Criminal Law/Procedure and Civil Procedure on the July 2013 bar exam. However, I do think that each is as likely to show up – so be sure to review both topics – do not dismiss either subject.

Okay, so that is it for now. Okay, well maybe not . . . make sure you know the California tests for value enhanced separate property businesses (Van Camp and Pereira) . . . more on this (Community Property) soon (this should serve as a hint to one of the next topics on my “predictions” list).

In the meantime, keep at it. Believe in yourself and stay positive. Maintaining a positive attitude in the days leading up to the exam is key. There is still a lot of time – use it well. You should expect any topic and be ready for any topic. To that end – please read my prior posts about the importance of reading and studying past bar essays.

Clearly, no one should try to rely on predictions to guide their studies. You simply need to know everything as well as you can. Still, I think it can be helpful to have some possible essay scenarios to keep in mind especially in the few days leading up to the bar exam, just to have something new to focus on. Then in the event that you see any of it, you will feel good. And the odds that some of the above will be on the exam is fairly high (and that is not because I have some crystal ball, it is simply because there are only so many subjects, a person could throw a dart and get at least some right).

I hope this is helpful. Please, please understand that I give this out at this time as a way to be helpful and also to respect my enrolled students who are, after all, entitled to receive this information first. I wish you all the very best of luck. Best of luck to you all!

Lisa Duncanson
Program Director/Founder
Bar None Review
(213) 529-0990
barnonereview.com

February 2013 Bar Exam Tip: Shorthand Murder Essay Approach

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Hello Everyone,

I wish all of you who are studying for the February 2013 bar exam this week the very best of luck!

I mentioned that murder might be on your upcoming bar exam. It has been absent for some time and would seem to be due. Of course, anything is possible. But, many will presume that Criminal Law and Procedure is not going to be tested simply because it was tested on the preceding bar exam. Remember, the bar examiners do repeat subjects from one bar round to the next – back to back. And, murder (while within Criminal Law) was not tested on the last bar exam. And, murder has not been tested in a very long time. As a result, I would be prepared for it.

Here is a quick, basic essay approach for murder. (Note that you should use a lot of headings and have a physical structure that evidences your approach – this will give the graders a sense that you actually know what you are talking about and it will make your essay far more appealing to read, it will appear organized and it will make it easier for you to write your answer if you have an approach going into the exam).

Shorthand approach for handling a murder question:

Address: Common Law Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being with malice aforethought. Malice aforethought is proven four ways: 1) intent to kill, 2) intent to inflict great bodily injury, 3) depraved heart killings, and 4) felony murder.

(Address the above and then if you have a felony murder issue, prove up the underlying felony (BARRKS – Burglary, Arson, Robbery, Rape, Kidnapping or Sodomy – incidentally, if this area is tested, the examiners may not test one of the above common law inherently dangerous felonies – watch out for a dangerous felony like drug trafficking or another dangerous (but not enumerated as a FMR felony) felony – it forces you to reach a bit and explain that the prosecutor could charge the defendant for felony murder on the basis that it was an inherently dangerous felony, but not a common law enumerated (BARRKS) felony)

Then move onto:

Statutory Degrees of Murder

First Degree Murder: First degree murder is the intentional killing with malice aforethought, premeditation and deliberation. (here do not spend all day on defining or explaining premeditation or deliberation – it either was premeditated and deliberate (lying in wait, planned, thought out etc.) or it wasn’t – address the issue and conclude and move on).

Second Degree Murder (here is the quick way: “all murders that are not first degree are second degree unless mitigated down to some form of manslaughter”).

Manslaughter

There are two types of manslaughter (Voluntary and Involuntary). If you know right away that the facts support a heat of passion killing, then address that first under Manslaughter as: Voluntary Manslaughter. (By the way, anytime there is a fight that results in a death – you should address heat of passion/voluntary manslaughter)

Voluntary Manslaughter: is a killing that would be murder but for the existence of adequate provocation and insufficient cooling time. (there are elements here that you could develop, but, the reality is that if you have a cross over exam and it involves a full murder discussion – from common law murder to manslaughter, then you simply do not have a lot of time. So spend your time focusing on whether what happened would arouse the passions of reasonable person to kill AND whether or not the person did not have time to cool).

Involuntary Manslaughter: A killing is involuntary manslaughter if it was committed with criminal negligence or during the commission of an unlawful act.

There is also the concept of Misdemeanor Manslaughter Rule – it is simply an accidental killing that occurs while the defendant is engaged in a non-dangerous felony or misdemeanor.

Obviously there are defenses like: Intoxication, Insanity (know the four tests as best you can), self defense, defense of others etc. that can all word to either relieve the defendant of liability for common law murder and reduce the crime down to some form of manslaughter. Keep in mind the above is a basic approach. But, sometimes that is really the best thing to have in your head on the day of the exam. You should have a framework or basic approach and then allow yourself the freedom to write your answer based on the particular fact pattern you face.

If you were to get a murder essay, I am thinking it could be in the context of Criminal Procedure (specifically in the context of the 8th Amendment and/or 6th Amendment). I will write more on that possible scenario soon.

Best of luck to you all!
Lisa Duncanson
Program Director/Founder
Bar None Review
barnonereview.com

California Bar Exam Tip: What to do while waiting for bar results

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Hello All,

With the July 2012 bar exam results just around the corner, many of you who are waiting are wondering whether you should study while waiting for results, and, if so, what you should study.

For guidance as to whether you should study, see my prior post here.

If you have decided that you feel the need to study during the coming weeks leading up to the bar exam, here is what I recommend:

1. Take one or two topics and simply begin conducting a light substantive review of those topics. I recommend starting with a favorite topic – something that comes easily to you.

2. If you have decided to begin studying now, keep in mind that the point of studying now, is to provide yourself with a form of insurance, should you find yourself needing to take the bar exam again. Should you find out on the 16th that you did not pass the bar exam, then you will be ahead of the game because you have already begun some studying. And, if you do pass, then you really won’t care that you gave up a few hours here and there in the weeks leading up to results. The point is not to create anxiety, but instead to alleviate anxiety. So, the goal isn’t to study for hours and hours each week leading up to the 16th. Instead, simply take on one or two subjects. Spend an hour tomorrow morning (Saturday) simply reviewing one subject. Use it as an opportunity to shake off some cobwebs and then move onto the rest of your day. Do the same thing on Sunday morning and you will have put in two hours of study this weekend.

3. If you really have a definite feeling about your performance on the last bar exam – you are just certain that you did not pass – then  I would suggest completing MBEs. I do not recommend that you conduct an extensive substantive review prior to completing MBEs. Instead, start with Torts and complete one MBE at a time – pick the best answer choice and then immediately check the explanation to see if you were correct or not. Initially you will likely miss more questions now than you were missing right before the exam. However, most of the students that I work with who are repeating the bar exam are able to get right back to the scores they were getting in practice the week before the last bar exam, by simply doing practice MBEs for about 10 to 14 days. Be sure to use MBE sources you have already used previously – this way you will be able to compare your practice scores now to where you were in practice the days leading up to the bar exam.

4. Try to make it a game. When you are completing practice MBEs tell yourself you are going to pick the correct answer and then really focus on the fact pattern, carefully read the call of the question and focus on picking the best answer. Be sure to remain positive. Again, the point of studying now is to alleviate stress not increase stress. Much of this will simply come from your attitude about beginning your studies.

Remember to do the MBEs one at a time to get the correction value – it will cause your scores to go up more quickly than doing 30 or 50 at a time AND it is less painful to do one at a time (sitting and tackling 50 MBEs in one session is pretty tough after a long break from studies and a likely lack of familiarity with the questions). Remember also that your MBE scores will usually go back up to where you were right before the exam with or without substantive review – the students I work with who are repeaters generally have their percentages back to where they were right before the exam simply by doing and correcting the MBEs.

There is no right or wrong way to return to your studies. But, I do recommend that you ease into it by simply putting in one or two hours over the weekend. Be positive about it, go somewhere you enjoy studying and tell yourself that this is just bar exam insurance – if you find out on the 16th that you passed the bar exam you really will not care about a few hours lost to studying.

All the best to all who are waiting for results!

Sincerely,

Lisa Duncanson

Program Director/Founder
Bar None Review
(949) 891-8831
barnonereview.com

July 2012 California Bar Exam Predictions – Free Essay Examples

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Hello All,

I have had several requests for examples of how Van Camp and Pereira are tested on an essay. Our course materials include over 150 past California bar exam essays. However, my students are also all given extra sample essays for the topic areas that I think are most likely on that particular bar round. My students have our essay books, which provide a solid coverage of the range of essays that can be tested. But, I provide additional essay handouts for some of the areas that appear to be more likely or more probable for each bar round. Again, no one can predict this exam and I certainly do not claim to be able to predict it. I have had some bar rounds where I have come up with as many as 5 out of the 6 essay topics and even the specific sub topic (i.e., predicting defamation, not just Torts). However, this is not something I claim to be able to do every time.

You should be prepared for anything that comes your way and one of the very best ways to do that is to review past bar exam essays.

As anyone who has taken the bar and failed will tell you, simply memorizing the law is not enough. You really need to see how the concepts are tested in the context of the actual exam. If you have not spent a lot of time reviewing essays, then today would be a great day to start – it is never too late to review essays and perhaps stumble upon one or two that  you actually end up seeing on day one or day two of the bar exam. Remember, the California bar examiners repeat the same or nearly identical essays over and over again. Exams from four years ago are seen again all of the time, as are 10 year old exams – negligence is negligence, products liability is products liability, defamation is defamation . . .

My point is that there are only so many ways these topics can be tested. Therefore, reviewing past exams is an excellent way to improve your chances of understanding the issues and addressing the correct issues on exam day. Anything you see today or tomorrow, you will remember on the day of the exam.

Based upon the many requests for further explanation of certain concepts – like how does Van Camp and Pereira play out on a Community Property essay, what is/how do I handle the “primary rights” view (which is a minority and California held view) in Civil Procedure? – I have decided to provide some free essays along with additional study tips for the coming days/hours).

I will be happy to send you a copy of some of the essays that I think either help illustrate these concepts or that I think are worth reviewing right before the exam. In addition, I will be happy to send you tips regarding the coming days/hours.

How do I get the free essays and tips: If you want to receive essays along with additional tips and information about the exam, please send an email to me at: pass@barnonereview.com and include “send me essays & tips” in the subject line. Please include your first and last name and the law school you attended. (I do not release any of this information and never, ever, sell contact information that I receive from students or blog followers. Your information is kept confidential).

Further Predictions for day three: I will continue posting on my blog through the bar exam. After I know what was tested on day one, I will provide my suggestions of areas to focus on for day three’s essays (predictions of sorts). I will make these public on Tuesday afternoon while you are taking the exam. However, in order for me to do so, since I am not sitting for the test, I need to hear from examinees as to what was actually tested. My students will contact me, but, the more I hear from examinees, the more I will know and the more focused I can be about making suggestions for areas to study on day three.

Help me help you: So, if you have a moment, please feel free to email me on Tuesday during your break with your thoughts on what was tested. The more I know, the more I can offer to you.

Hang in there, I know these last few days can be tough, but, be positive and believe in yourself.

Best of luck to all who are taking the bar exam!

Also, I want to thank you all for following the blog, we have had over 10 thousand views in less than a week and the blog has now (as of this past week) received over 200,000 hits.

Thank you so much for the following and for your positive feedback via email – it is greatly appreciated.

Best,

Lisa Duncanson
Program Director/Founder
Bar None Review
(949) 891-8831
barnonereview.com

California Bar Exam Predictions: Feb 2013 – Part One

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First of all I want to wish you all the very best of luck in your studies this week and I want to thank you for following my blog. I am truly humbled by the responses from examinees who have sent emails – thank you so much. If you would like to reach me directly, please feel free to send me an email at: pass@barnonereview.com

If you have been following my blog you will know that I do not really like to call my “predictions” predictions. I do not claim to be able to predict the bar exam. I have simply come up with what I call essay scenarios that I think might be worth considering. In the coming days (today included) I will be releasing these essay scenarios.

Please understand that my students who pay to take my course do not appreciate it if I release our “predictions” weeks in advance to the world. They pay for the privilege of our insights – at least they see it that way. So it simply isn’t fair to give away part of what they pay for to everyone else for free. In past rounds I have not made this available outside of our course. However, last February, after being asked over and over again, and after discussing it with my paying students (how they felt about it) I decided to release “predictions” – or, possible essay scenarios.

So here is the plan, I will release the essay scenarios I have come up with over the coming days (one or two topics a day). To do anything else would really not be fair to my enrolled students. I hope you understand. Once I have released all of the essay scenarios that I think are likely, I will put together a comprehensive post of all of the predictions (just like I did for the February 2012 bar exam – here is the link to this post: February 2012 bar exam predictions – it is worth taking a look at for some of the areas that I addressed thatdid not come up as these may be more likely now).

So here are a few thoughts on what I think could be tested:

Last bar round, I felt strongly that Evidence or Constitutional Law could repeat. I felt a slight preference for Evidence and it was in fact slated

Since I released my predictions last time, there is now an expectation that I will provide these again this bar round. I will do this. But, I need to respect my paying students and so I can not simply give out all of my predictions today. (Last bar round, out of respect for my enrolled, paying students, I did not release my “predictions” publicly until the day before the bar exam).

Civil Procedure: This topic is being predicted by many and is sort of an obvious possibility. Most commonly tested issues in civil procedure are: jurisdiction and collateral estoppel and res judicata. The last time in personam jurisdiction was tested was in 2006. This exam is no longer on the California bar website. Incidentally, that administration tested Personal Jurisdiction (specifically: IPJ with a full minimum contacts analysis) and Collateral Estoppel and Res Judicata. This is a very possible combination. Another area that has not been tested all that recently is supplemental jurisdiction (bear in mind that if supplemental jurisdiction is tested, it will likely be what I refer to as a “tack on” issue or call because it would not be a large part of the question, but rather a shorter call within an essay exam). Typically you would expect supplemental jurisdiction to come up in the context of a Federal Diversity Jurisdiction essay. I am leaning more towards an essay that has personal jurisdiction – since it has been since 2006 that the California bar examiners have tested In Personam Jurisdiction. But, anything is possible so be prepared for everything. Class actions has not been tested in a very long time – I keep thinking that is due, but, If you look at what is most often tested in Civil Procedure it is jurisdiction (PJ and SMJ and Venue) and Collateral Estoppel and Res Judicata. So while class actions has been absent for many bar rounds, it is still no more likely in my mind, as jurisdiction or Collateral Estoppel and Res Judicata.

Incidentally – be sure not to mix up Res Judicata and Collateral Estoppel – make sure you know which one is issue preclusion and which one is claim preclusion. Here is one way to keep the two straight: the “C”s do not go together – in other words: Collateral Estoppel is Issue Preclusion and Res Judicata is Claim Preclusion. Should you get tested on this area – be certain to make note of the California (and minority) “primary rights” view with respect to claims. If you need further explanation of the “primary rights” view – please let me know and I will add a bit more here.

Criminal Law/Procedure: Criminal Law was tested last on the July 2011 bar exam. However, Criminal Procedure has not been tested since 2010 and neither has a murder exam. (The July 2011 exam tested larceny and other possession crimes but, no murder and no procedural issues). As a result, I think that a Criminal Law murder exam, crossed with a significant amount of Criminal Procedure is a good possibility. I also think that an exam with only Criminal Procedure is possible as well.

Okay, so that is it for now. Okay, well maybe not . . . make sure you know the California tests for value enhanced separate property businesses (Van Camp and Pereira) . . . more on this (Community Property) soon.

In the meantime, keep at it. Believe in yourself and stay positive. Maintaining a positive attitude in the days leading up to the exam is key. There is still a lot of time – use it well. You should expect any topic and be ready for any topic. To that end – please read my prior post about the importance of reading and studying past bar essays.

Clearly, no one should try to rely on predictions to guide their studies. You simply need to know everything as well as you can. Still, I think it can be helpful to have some possible essay scenarios to keep in mind especially in the few days leading up to the bar exam, just to have something new to focus on. Then in the event that you see any of it, you will feel good. And the odds that some of the above will be on the exam is pretty high (and that is not because I have some crystal ball, it is simply because there are only so many subjects, a person could throw a dart and get at least some right).

I hope this is helpful. Please, please understand that I give this out at this time as a way to be helpful and also to respect my enrolled students who are, after all, entitled to receive this information first. I wish you all the very best of luck.

Best of luck to you all!
Lisa Duncanson
Program Director/Founder
Bar None Review
barnonereview.com