Sunday 25 August 2019

'I am proof it can be done' - Law graduate (23) passes New York Bar exam from Dublin bedroom

The Louth woman is one of the youngest people to ever pass the New York Bar exam and did so from over 3,000 miles away

DCU graduate Aoife Moore Kavanagh
DCU graduate Aoife Moore Kavanagh
Catherine Devine

Catherine Devine

An Irish law graduate is one of the youngest ever people to pass the New York Bar exam and did so from over 3,000 miles away in her Dublin bedroom.

Aoife Moore Kavanagh (23) from Louth graduated from Dublin City University with a law degree in 2016.

After spending her J1 in San Francisco, Aoife said that she knew she wanted to live and work in America and began the process of applying for the New York Bar.

If you pass the New York Bar exam you are allowed to practice law in the New York jurisdiction.

"After my J1 I realised that there were a lot more opportunities for me in New York. Ireland is so limited," Aoife told

"I researched American law course providers and came across Barbri, a bar review course which I attended twice a week while working in retail."

The Barbri course was six months long and cost €4,500 to complete.

"I fell in love with New York instantly. It is so amazing. I met my boyfriend there and I really enjoyed the course.

"I applied for the New York Bar in February and continued working while I was studying. The exam was 200 multiple choice questions, two exams and six essays. I had never done such an extensive exam before."

Aoife was devastated when she found out that she missed out by ten points.

As her visa expired, Aoife returned home to Dublin last May.

"I have never been so disappointed in my life. The day I flew back to Ireland I was heartbroken. When the pilot announced we were landing in Dublin I cried."

The law graduate said she had to "dust herself off" and re-apply.

"I applied for the exam again after I returned home to Dublin. For the next two months I focused only on the exam. There were times when I couldn't even remember the last time I got dressed. I lived and breathed the American law materials. I recorded myself reciting rules and fell asleep listening to it. I studied for more than nine hours a day, six days a week."

Aoife said that she encountered "a lot of negativity" during the process.

"A lot of people didn't think it was worth my while to do a course to learn the laws of another jurisdiction. They told me it was extremely difficult for foreign examinees and I would have to accept that it was unlikely my dreams would become reality, but I am proof that it can be done."

Aoife returned to New York in July and re-applied for the exam.

"I had done absolutely everything I possible could have to pass the test. This was my goal, I had to achieve it."

Last week, Aoife received an email to say she had passed the exam.

"It was the hardest thing I have ever done. I was dancing around the kitchen when I heard I passed."

At 23, Aoife is one of the youngest people to ever pass the New York Bar. The average age is 27.

"I'll be going back to New York in February for the swearing in ceremony and then I'll be called to the bar.

"A lot of people don't know that you can take the Bar exam if you have an Irish degree. Ireland has excellent courses and can get you to where you need to be.

"I plan on becoming a judge now in New York. I can't wait to get stuck in."

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