Leveling the Testing Field in Legal Education

Esqyr combats inequities in legal education by providing affordable test prep materials for law students taking the bar exam. Additionally, they donate at least 20% of their profits to fight the increasing student debt crisis plaguing modern students.

Founder Chris Henjum graduated from the University of Minnesota Law School and the Humphrey School of Public Affairs in 2010, during the depths of the Great Recession. The economic downturn had a huge impact on him and his classmates as they navigated a sea of student debt while trying to study for the bar exam. Many graduates were unable to find a job (the bleak job prospects of the class of 2010 have even been the subject of a law review article), and several couldn’t afford the ever-increasing costs of study materials for the bar. Online test preparation costs thousands of dollars, even resulting in a special “bar loan” offered at several banks.

Given students’ tight finances and an estimated $1.4 trillion in student debt — part of which Chris experienced first-hand — he knew test preparation could be done more equitably. This was the start of Esqyr, the only public benefit corporation focused on licensing test prep.

Esqyr was launched to combat the student debt challenge with the mission to “test well and do good.” They began with tools for the bar exam and have been improving the materials and adding additional licensure resources since. For students and schools, it offers tailored study programs built with questions from previous bar exams, all at a price that students can afford. Esqyr also provides a free dashboard for professors to track student progress.

Most importantly, Esqyr provides free student accounts to those who face the most challenge paying their student debt. To better facilitate systemic change, Esqyr donates a portion of its profits to organizations like Law School Transparency, a nonprofit organization that works to reform legal education in order to “make the entry to the legal profession more transparent, affordable and fair.” The Esqyr team has seen firsthand how burdensome student debt can be, so they make sure to donate at least 20% of their profits to help tackle the student debt crisis.

Part of this 20% goes to students directly. Take Ron Brown, a recent graduate of Birmingham School of Law. Ron crowdfunded part of his legal education, which is becoming a more common practice among students. To pursue his dream of going to law school, Ron would leave his job in Atlanta and drive 300 miles round trip to Birmingham three nights a week for class. Thanks to support from his friends and family, he graduated from Birmingham School of Law. Ron recently turned to Esqyr for help in passing the bar, who gladly donated study tools to help him pass.

According to Ron, “Esqyr makes sense on so many different levels. Bar prep is very expensive and [this] program is just what law students need.”

Esqyr hopes to continue to grow in the coming years. Their goal is to have an even greater impact on the organizations working to improve legal education and underserved students who face immense challenges in financing bar prep.

To learn more about Esqyr, check out their member directory profile.

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