Throwback Thursday: Pieper Bar Review Still Effective After 30 Years

John Pieper experience

On July 16, 1984, John M. Pieper—founder of Pieper Bar Review—was featured in a New York Times article about the company’s growth, his passion for law, and his unique teaching methods. Though there were (and still are) several other bar review courses available to students, this article highlights Pieper’s ability to stand out from the crowd. Even after almost 32 years, Pieper Bar Review still does.

Looking Back

The article opens with John’s motivational send-off on the last day of class before the bar exam, encouraging his students to keep studying and wishing them luck. His words are well-received, as his conclusion is met with cheers. Though the preparation experience leading up to this point was grueling to say the least, students seemed grateful for their time they spent with him.

Pieper Bar Review started in 1975, less than a decade before the Times followed up with its article. In that short time, the number of students thankful for Pieper’s services increased exponentially. Its first course included just over 20 students, but by 1984, more than 1,500 Pieper students were anxiously preparing for the July New York State Bar Exam (since the Uniform Bar Exam didn’t yet exist).

Since then, Pieper has successfully helped multiple generations of lawyers pass the bar exam, and from the reactions of those students in that Manhattan Community College classroom back in 1984, it’s easy to see why: Pieper cares.

JohnPieper.jpgA Love for the Law

In 1984, John had not only passed the bar exam in New York, but several other states, including Arizona and Massachusetts. He is now proud to say that he’s passed the Multistate Bar Exam in more than 30 jurisdictions. It’s clear that he doesn’t just enjoy teaching—he wants to put his own legal knowledge to the test.

His passion for everything law-related, as well as his ability to connect with his students through his own bar exam experiences, is what makes Pieper different.

The Times emphasizes the amount of work and stress that students endure during a bar review course—which most certainly has not changed—stating, “For most law students, it is the last clear chance to learn everything that law school failed to teach them, an excruciating and expensive but essential task that taxes mind and body.”

Every study session counts. Every lesson has to be effective. Every “‘rule’” needs to be noted.

John’s lectures include more than a thousand “‘rules’” for students to know. As he explains each one, they furiously take notes. So much information is covered that one student “had 1,043 pages of notes by the end of the last class,” the article said. But the students are not just expected to memorize this material, they’re supposed retain it through clever mnemonic devices he created that are useful for both bar examinees and the lawyers they will become. (You’ll never see the word “sparkle” the same way again.)

Students depend on John Pieper for more than just teaching them bar exam material, but for moral support as well. The article explains how he “guides them, soothes them, suffers with them, flatters them, advises them, exhorts them, humors them and holds their hands over the last hurdle before they enter the practice of law.”

Christine Edwards, a student mentioned in the article, praised his teaching methods, summing up what Pieper stands for in just one sentence: “He’s more than just a coach—he’s a guru.”

All in the Family

Today, John is joined by his two sons, Troy and Damian, who share his enthusiasm and his knowledge about the law.

Although they were young when the Times article ran, the boys were still involved in the business—through their father’s creative lesson plans. Students got to hear all about how they hypothetically “rob banks, break contracts, write libelous statements and fall on badly maintained sidewalks” so John could use their examples in his classroom instruction. These days, those examples won’t fly because Troy and Damian are also teaching new generations of students with their father.

Some Things Never Change—Nor Should They

A lot has changed since the Times article appeared—does anyone actually use a portable word processor anymore?— but John, Troy, Damian and the rest of the Pieper team are constantly staying up-to-date on legal news so they can share their expertise with their students, proving time and time again that Pieper is the bar exam “guru.”

About the author

Pieper Bar Review

For over forty years, Pieper Bar Review has taught students the legal concepts and skills necessary for success on the bar exam, and reinforced students’ knowledge through thought provoking examples and bar exam questions. The proof that the Pieper teaching method works is found in the success of our former students – now present-day attorneys. Learn more

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