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The bar exam review course is not exactly renowned as a source of inspiration, but for Don Macaulay it was enough to launch a second career. Macaulay was a recent graduate of Albany Law School studying for the bar in 1995 when a friend grumbled that if he had only had a prep course before his first year of law school he would have had a much easier time. That was enough to start the wheels turning in Macaulay’s head. And once he reported to work that fall in the Manhattan office of the firm then known as Rogers & Wells (now Clifford Chance Rogers & Wells) he began sounding out his idea for a preview course for entering law school students to anyone who would listen. Three people — Jeffrey Drichta, Brian Breheny and Timothy Treanor, who met each other and Macaulay as either associates or summer associates at Rogers & Wells — listened especially intently. And this summer, Law Preview ( www.lawpreview.com), the business the four lawyers started, will present its fourth year of courses for law school students-to-be. The week-long courses use law school professors to teach one-day summaries of core law school classes to students mindful of the importance that first-year grades have on Law Review selection, moot court and, of course, future employment. “Law school’s frustrating enough. You’re thrown into an environment that’s totally new, a testing environment that’s totally new,” Macaulay said. “If you have that ramp and you have these skills you’re in a much better position to do well.” Macaulay, 30, started at Rogers & Wells in 1995, working in the antitrust group handling regulatory work on mergers. As he and Drichta, Breheny and Treanor became friends, they also became convinced that Macaulay’s pet project could make for a successful business. WORD OF MOUTH The four men began planning the curriculum and writing course materials in their off-hours in 1996, funding the fledgling operation, as they still do, entirely with their own money. “It just seemed like the perfect fit, to invest not just in money but in friendships and loyalty,” Drichta said. Law Preview began with an initial class of six students at New York Law School in August 1998, after a shoestring publicity campaign that consisted of handing out fliers outside LSAT test sites. Word of mouth led to a class of 60 students the following year before the course expanded to sites in Washington, D.C.; Boston; Los Angeles; and Chicago last year, helped by a joint marketing agreement with The Princeton Review. Westlaw also endorses the course. This year, Law Preview has added a second session at New York Law School and expects to have a total of about 500 students at its five sites. The week-long program includes six-hour sessions on the major first-year courses — Contracts, Torts, Property, Civil Procedure, Criminal Law and Constitutional Law — plus sessions on legal writing and studying strategies. Before arriving, students receive a 300-page course book with readings for each day, including the landmark decisions in each class. Tuition for the full course is $1,150. Law Preview also offers a one-day Legal Research and Writing workshop for $250. Scholarships and tuition aid are also available. The Law Preview faculty includes professors such as Jules Coleman of Yale Law School (Torts); Saul Levmore of the University of Chicago Law School (Torts and Contracts); and American Civil Liberties Union president Nadine Strossen of New York Law School (Constitutional Law). And while the four partners had initial trepidations about finding professors who would be interested in teaching the classes, those fears turned out to be unfounded. Another Law Preview faculty member, Criminal Law professor Dan Kahan of Yale Law School, said he finds the course an effective means of resistance against what he sees as the “tyranny” of the “law school game.” “Some people catch on [to law school grading] right away and others don’t and there’s not a tight correlation to how people do later,” Kahan said. “I think [Law Preview is] a good project because it takes a little bit of the arbitrariness out of it. Since I was a law student, I’ve always resented the sort of hide-the-ball aspect of law school.” BLUEPRINT OF FIRST YEAR For students, Law Preview provides a blueprint for each first-year class and the realization that everything they learn in class should be pointed toward the exam. “I could see where my courses were going once I got to school,” said Marye Cherry, who took the course last summer before her first year at Georgetown University Law Center. “I felt like I had an advantage because I knew where my professors were headed.” As for competition, the market leader in the law school prep field is BarBri-NILE, which is affiliated with the bar review powerhouse BarBri and taught more than 1,000 students last year. Macaulay said he has been using his antitrust law background in a series of complaints to BarBri-NILE over issues like cybersquatting and misleading testimonials. Richard J. Conviser, chairman of Harcourt Professional Education Group, which owns BarBri-NILE, said that the complaints have been a “two-way street,” but characterized the disagreements as fairly minor. He also said that he felt a sense of deja vu when he talked with the Law Preview partners, since he started his course when he was an associate in the Chicago office of Baker & McKenzie. Drichta and Breheny continue to work at what is now Clifford Chance Rogers & Wells, while Treanor has left but continues to practice in Manhattan. But Macaulay has stopped practicing to run Law Preview’s day-to-day operations. As the company’s only employee, he describes his job title as “CEO/janitor/secretary/Webmaster.” Finding an office for Law Preview was as easy as taking rent-free space in his hometown of Mt. Kisco, N.Y., in a building owned by his family. But with a wife and 21-month-old daughter, Macaulay traded in his law firm salary for a much smaller one he negotiated with his three partners. “It’s a huge financial burden,” he acknowledged. “But when you’re building something like this, you have to look a little further down the road.” With the six sessions this summer, the four lawyers are expecting Law Preview to turn a profit for the first time later this year. And with a vast, untapped market of entering law students, the company is pondering an expansion into cities in the South. Drichta said he could not imagine having started the business with anyone but his three partners. “There’s the adage that you should never go into business with your friends,” he said. “But actually we’ve had the exact opposite experience.”

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