My short bio: Professor Joesph Marino was named “the go-to-guy for those in need of bar review” by The New York Law Journal after helping JFK, Jr., the most famous retaker, to pass the bar, after failing twice with two other bar courses.

A former full time professor at New York Law School, credited for raising their bar passage rate from 57% to 94% and a former lecturer for Barbri, Professor Marino has earned a reputation for helping unsuccessful bar candidates to pass, most notably with his Retaker Course, the only program designed specifically for those students retaking the bar exam. Generations of attorneys nationwide have attributed their bar exam success to Marino and send their children and grandchildren – as well as their legal interns and law clerks – to Marino for bar exam preparation. It is a tradition that has continued for 70 years.

My Proof:

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Professor Marino will begin answering questions from 11:30 AM to 4:00 PM EST. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to submit questions to [email protected]

Comments: 137 • Responses: 30  • Date: 

diegojones427 karma

How did you discover you had a talent for teaching people how to take the bar? 57 to 94% is very impressive.

ProfessorMarino35 karma

Thank you diegojones4. My father actually created the first "bar review course" in 1946. So I grew up helping with the family business and learning about the bar exam. After I graduated from St. John's Law School and became a lawyer myself, I realized that many of my father's techniques, while revolutionary when he created them, were becoming outdated and I spent a lot of time developing newer methodologies that rely more on training, and less on simply reviewing all the law that may be tested.

surgesilk22 karma

Can I take the bar exam without having done law school and be a lawyer? Does it vary by state?

ProfessorMarino31 karma

It does vary by state surgesik. In the old days, you could become a lawyer by doing an apprenticeship with an exisiting law firm. There are still similar allowances in some states today, but in almost every state you would still have to attend the first year of law school.

shoelessjoejack16 karma

Hi, Professor Marino. I interviewed for a job with you a few years ago. We spoke about how you were expanding to other jurisictions. Just wondering, how is the expansion going? Perhaps more importantly, how is the office dog?

ProfessorMarino9 karma

Hey thanks a lot for checking in. We are expanding as we will be offering UBE courses fro all 16 jurisdictions for the July 2016 exam. Heh there are 2 office dogs - a new one has recently joined the family!

MisterBinks16 karma

Do you have any opinions on the major bar prep courses (e.g., Themis, Barbri, etc.)? I live in a state where your course isn't available, so that isn't an option.


ProfessorMarino16 karma

Sure MisterBinks -the reality is that most of these courses are essentially the same in terms of the content you get - so really the difference is what format you want - online vs. live, cheaper vs. more expensive etc. There is no real reason to spend more than you have to given that they are basically the same - what I would recomend is that you think about adding a supplement to your course, like the MBE Maximizer - this will work with whichever bar course you use to give you a much higher MBE score than you will get by just following a regular course program

joecity85612 karma

My significant other and I both took the bar exam in July: I passed, my SO did not(We were a mere 4 point difference) what is the best advice you have for someone in my situation in regards to my SO's retake schedule?

Is there ways to encourage different practices if what they are doing seems wrong to you, or do you just let them go

ProfessorMarino38 karma

Yes, retaking is a very different thing thn taking the first time - unfortunately the vast number of students who are unsuccessful and then retaker using the same studying method will inevitably fail again. Your SO will need to make some adjustments to have a good chance to pass - if you or your SO email me the score report from the last exam I will be happy to give you some free personalized advice about how to study differently this time - just send it to [email protected]

jisa9 karma

Do you have a take on why bar passage rates have dropped in the last couple of years? The law schools seem to be blaming the bar examiners, and the bar examiners seem to be blaming law schools for taking less qualified candidates.

ProfessorMarino18 karma

Hi jisa, I actually just wrote an article about this a few weeks ago - you can read it here -

The truth is that schools are certainly admitting less qualified applicants, but many of them are failing to properly prepare them for the bar exam and then blame them for being lazy and not studying enough when they fail. The bottom line is that if the law school thinks a student is qualified enough to be admitted, it has an obligation to do everything it can to try to ensure that the student passes the exam and has a good career - right now some law schools are just passing the buck

NaziMeComin8 karma

Do you know any bar jokes?

ProfessorMarino56 karma

A panda bear walks into a bar and says, “Please give me a beer..............……………... and some peanuts.”

The bartender replies, “OK, but why the big paws?”

sdcfc6 karma

Professor Marino,

Seeing as how New York has just adopted the UBE, do you predict that more states are going to abandon more traditional bar exams and follow a similar route? Do you have any specific tips for how to attack the UBE specifically?

ProfessorMarino6 karma

Hi sdcfc,

Yes it looks like eventually almost every state will be switching to the UBE pretty soon - this is very similar to what happened several years ago with the MBE. In the UBE, the MBE and the MPT are of premium importance - this is because the MBE is worth a whole 50% and there are 2 MPTs each worth 10%. So you need to learn a method to tackle to MBE and practice and practice lots of MPT questions

lexi15526 karma

Two questions. First, I know it varies on the person, but what would you consider the minimum for preparing for the bar? A 6 week course, 60 hours of study, etc. & on the other side, what would you consider the gold standard for preparing?

ProfessorMarino6 karma

Hi lexi552 - it depends on a few factors - are you are a first time taker or retaking the exam?

lexi15525 karma

It would be my first time.

ProfessorMarino12 karma

For a first time taker, you will want to spend 6-8 hours a day for about 2 months, you will be learning the substantive law for part of the day, then reviewing the rules and doing practice essays/MBE questions in the second part of your day. I don't know if you already are enolled in a course, but my first time program actually comes with 2 distinct schedules - 1 for the student who has 2 months off to study and the other for the student who has obligations or works part time - for that student I have a Weekender schedule - and the majority of the work is done on the weekends to make it more manageable

Thisguy28695 karma

What's the answer to #7?

ProfessorMarino9 karma


ecto19855 karma

Hey Professor Marino. I'm a fellow St. John's grad. I took the bar exam when I graduated 5 years ago but stopped studying midway through when I got a dream job offer. Obviously without studying I failed, but not by much (i did freak out several people at the javits center by leaving early). Wondering if it would be feasible to take it again this far out of school. How would I even begin prepping again?

ProfessorMarino7 karma

Hi ecto1985,

Yes, it is definetly feasible - i just had a couple of students who graduated more than 10 years ago and they were able to pass - it will require you to start earlier to give yourself a little extra time to reaccquaint yourself with the rules in all the subjects, a lot of which you have probably forgotten. But if you take a month or 2 to remind yourself of the rules for each subject, there is no reason that you cannot train to pass just like any other taker. If you email me at [email protected] I will be happy to talk to you about a specific, personalized study schedule given your situation

MrBratton5 karma

I know this isn't the BAR, but would tips would you give for someone preparing to take the LSAT?

ProfessorMarino5 karma

Are you planning on taking some type of prep course for the LSAT, MrBratton - its a shame but if you don't you are going to find yourself at a disadvantage

TheSicilianDude4 karma

I took the July 2015 Texas Bar and failed by a narrow margin. I'm pretty good with the essays, but the MBE killed me. I've never been that great at multiple choice and I get tricked easily. Had I gotten maybe 8-10 more MBE questions right, I think I would've passed. I already know that I have to change my approach for Feb. 2016 if I want to get better results. This time I will be focusing much more heavily on the MBE.

What's your plan of attack for getting good at the MBE and especially tackling those tricky questions they throw at you?

What would be a good study schedule for me/when should I start studying? I feel like now is a little too early and I don't want to burn out. I'm also employed (but will be able to take a little time off to study).

ProfessorMarino5 karma

Hi TheSicilianDude I am sorry to hear about the results - the key to nailing the MBE is to realize that each MBE question is there to test a specific legal rule - the bar examiners try to make the way the questions are worded tricky, but once you can isolate the issue, it becomes much clearer to see how to pick the best answer choice. I have a program called the MBE Maximizer that I have created that specifically teaches my MBE Method to increase your score - I recomend you take a look at it - and if you have any questions about how it works, just email or call me and I will be happy to help

FreakingEthan3 karma

Do you have any specific advice for attorneys taking the bar in another state after having passed in their home state? I took a BarBri course and passed the Texas bar with 10% over the pass line (somewhere in the neighborhood of 160+ on the scaled MBE I think), and I've thought about getting licensed in another state to increase my marketability. Any specific advice on how best to tackle prep for another Bar Exam for someone who passed his first one with minimal difficulty?

ProfessorMarino2 karma

If you can do that welll on the MBE again, you should not have much of a problem. What other state were you planning on taking?

FreakingEthan2 karma

Thinking about West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Oklahoma, New Mexico or Colorado (I'm in the oil and gas business). Haven't decided which one or if I'll even do it, but I was wondering what kind of resources I should be looking into--e.g., full prep course v. buying some books off of eBay. Also, I'm not sure how much time I'd need to devote to something like that; would 2-3 hours 4 days a week for 2 months do it or is that too optimistic?

ProfessorMarino3 karma

Hi FreakingEthan,

You will need at least 20 hours a week for about 2 months = that should be sufficient if you use your time efficiently - I urge you to use my MBE Maximizer for the MBE - if you email me at [email protected], I will see you get a discount on it -

For the local law, you may be able to use a local course or some books, but make sure to practice writing a lot of essays


I've never taken the bar, or studied for it. Can you prepare me for it?

ProfessorMarino3 karma

That is what I do - FUCITADEL - when are you gong to be taking the exam?

ya__mon2 karma

In addition to using a service such as barbri, kaplan, or marino, what is the best way to prepare mentally for the bar exam?

ProfessorMarino11 karma

Here is a little practical advice about not getting TOO stressed for the bar exam ya_mon You are not trying to get an A on the exam - that is not the goal, and it will not get you anything extra - you just need to get the equivalent of a C+ Remember that when you are studying!

BigHatsAndLittleHats2 karma


ProfessorMarino3 karma

I have a bar tutoring company -

If you are interested in teaching bar review, you can email me your resume, but you should know we train and test all of out prospective tutors before they are assigned to any students, and the majority do not perform at the level we want to see and thus do not become tutors for us. Still, if you do have an interest, email me at [email protected]

E_cham_A1 karma

I took, and failed, the July bar by 2%. Had I gotten 11 more questions right on the MBE or 2 more points on each essay, I would have passed.

I'm starting the same program in another week and have a job interview on Monday. Would it be foolish of me to work and re-do the prep course or should I focus all my efforts on passing the bar in February?

ProfessorMarino1 karma

Hi E_cham_A,

It is ok to work and study at the same time but not if you redo a first time course, because then all your time will be spent rewatching the same video lectures and outlines - not productive at all. If you take a course like the retaker one I have, your time is spent more efficiently of memorizing the legal rules you need and how to use them to score points

chillax_bro_im_jk1 karma


ProfessorMarino3 karma

I honestly don't know because I have never taken the medical licensing exams - I would hope they are pretty hard - to make sure doctors are well qualified

The_Littlest_Chef1 karma

My sister took the MD bar exam this past July and failed. She is planning on retaking it this coming February. What advice would you give her for studying the second time around? She is going to work and study this time (as opposed to just studying this past summer)

ProfessorMarino2 karma

Working and studying at the same time is not necessarily a problem - in my retaker course, I tell students that if they can spend 20-25 hours a week (including weekends) studying, they can pass - the key is not to wast their precious time rewatching long video lectures and going over hundred page outlines. If your sister emails me at [email protected], I will be happy to give her some more detailed advice about how to plan her studying while she is working

Imatubbyone1 karma

Thank you for doing this AMA professor. I am currently looking into enrolling into a Law School in the next couple of years. I completed my Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice and have held a variety of jobs in the Criminal Justice field. I guess my question is how helpful will that experience be when preparing for the LSAT and BAR exams, and how much of those exams rely solely on your study techniques?

ProfessorMarino2 karma

Hi Imatubbyone,

The reality is that your your experience in the criminal justice field will help with some classes in law school and may help you get into law school. As far as the LSAT and the bar exam, it really comes down to a few things - how good of a standardized test taker are you? The better you are, the easier both of these tests will be. However, if you are not a great standardized test taker, that is where you need to learn the strategies that will help you get extra points. If you do enroll in law school, email me at [email protected] and I will give you some free study materials to help you on your law school finals.

freakwastaken1 karma

What are your views on the declining bar passage rates? Do you think it is because of the students or could some of the fault be in the way the test is administered, written, or something else?

ProfessorMarino1 karma

Hi freakwastaken,

There are a number of factors that are causing the lower passage rates for the exams. There is no doubt that law schools are taking less qualified students - they have to in order to remain in business - still they could be doing more to raise the pass rates than they are. Unfortunately, a number of bar review companies who been taken over by businesspeople who are not really educators. They do not have the same concern for adapting or modifying their material as long as they remain very profitable. The truth is that for students is the bottom half of their law school class in GPA order, they really need to be trained to get points on the bar exam, not just given a general review of the law, which is what most bar courses offer

invaderpixel1 karma

Why is the pass rate for bar exam retakers so much lower than it is for first takers? Do statistics change if people avoid working and devote the same two-three months of study that a typical summer graduate fresh out of law school devotes to the bar? Is it harder to find motivation to re-study for the bar? What common factors do you see in people who fail the bar exam their second time?

ProfessorMarino2 karma

Hi invaderpixel,

The problem is that many or even most retaker students simply redo the first time course they took the first time around. They often get this redo for free or at a discounted rate. When they do this they are just "regathering" information - this is largely a waste of their time. They need to focus on memorizing the "the rules" that are on the exam, not full subject areas, They also need to train to actually improve their scores on each section of the exam. This is why my retaker program shows a student my Method to actually raise their scores on each section of the exam. Another issue is that retaker students that work with a tutor have MUCH better success than those that study alone, without any professional guidance. This is another reason why I include 3 hours of bar exam tutoring with one of my personally trained tutors in my retaker course. These are the most common problems - simply redoing the same course they failed with before and studying alone without tutoring or professional guidance.

pKa_Ghost1 karma

What are your thoughts on CA changing the Bar exam from 3 to 2 days?

ProfessorMarino2 karma

I suspect you will see CA switch to the UBE within the next 5 or 6 years in any case -

RFC521 karma

Do you work with International lawyers looking to pass the Bar?

ProfessorMarino1 karma

Absolutely RFC52 - we have an LLM Program for the NY bar exam that is very popular. It actually gives LLM students a head start on their review as they generally need more time to prepare and it comes with 5 hours of personalized tutoring with one of our bar exam tutors.

RFC521 karma

My only issue is where it's based- there are UK based Bar prep course, but I'm not convinced the cost/value matches up. I am very interested in taking the NY bar though.

ProfessorMarino1 karma

We can definetly help - our course is all online the tutoring is done with one of my bar exam tutors via skype so it is very convenient for foreign students - if you are interested, just email me at [email protected] or call my office at 212 249 3779

fortheswarm-1 karma

My theory on lower bar passage rates is that law schools have been admitting students who can't compose grammatically correct essays without outside assistance. Even though the essays aren't scored for grammar, my hypothesis is that it's hard to score well while writing incoherently. Do you think there might be something to that?

ProfessorMarino3 karma

I think it is true that you will get more points by writing grammatically correct and as clearly and concisely as possible - even though it is not supposed to matter, human nature is such that it does make a difference.

romanr66-4 karma

What's the minimum IQ you need to be able to pass the bar?

ProfessorMarino13 karma

While it obviously helps to be smart to do well on just about any test, I can say that plenty of very very smart people fail the exam each time and I do not see any particular link to IQ. The key to passing the exam is memorizing the rules that are tested each time and and learning a method to handle each section -