I remember back when I was studying for the bar way back in the ancient days when you had only two choices for bar review courses -- go to the "live" lectures or watch the group videos in a classroom full of other recent law school grads. My alma mater -- Boston College Law School -- only provided a video option. In order to attend the "live" lectures, I would have had to have commuted to Boston University School of Law. Because it was more convenient to attend the classes at BC, I settled for spending the month of June watching the video replays with about 100 to 150 other students in a sweltering unairconditioned classroom on the BC campus.
Bar review courses such as BarBri now offer an iPod option. That's right, you can sit at a library carrel, at your desk at home or even by a lake and listen on your iPod to an instructor drone on about adverse possession or the elements of a tort. It'll just be you and Arthur Miller (or whatever other notable law professor is doing the reading of that day's lesson). For convenience, you can't beat it.
Yet I can't help feeling like something might be lost doing it that way. (And I'm trying not to sound too much like crotchety "60 Minutes" commentator Andy Rooney when I say this.) While sitting in the summer heat under the florescent bulbs of a classroom was a less than ideal way to spend an early summer, it was an experience that built camaraderie -- a sort of boot camp for lawyers-to-be. When you graduated law school, you knew you'd see many of your friends at those courses. After a sizzling hot day of torts, you might grab a bite to eat or a drink with your fellow students and commiserate about the grainy video you just watched on mens rea. Attending the classes together also encouraged students to study together rather than on their own. Spitballing ideas and concepts back and forth was a great way to learn.
While the undeniable convenience of the iPod may one day relegate the shared bar-review class to the dustbin of history (along with analog TV), I hope recent law alums will continue to have the good sense to make at least some portion of their bar-exam study a communal activity. There's something to be said for socializing and breaking bread together as you crack the books. You can't split a pizza via text message.