i got the barbri materials from 2008 and self-studied, and passed. i'm not very diligent or self-motivated - studied maybe 3 hours a day on average - but i am smart. and i took the massachusetts exam - 90% pass rate for 1st time takers in july.
if you mean from a visa perspective, it is fairly easy for a canadian attorney to work in the US. the NAFTA visa (known as the TN visa) is cheap to apply for, is renewable any number of times, and imposes no burden on an employer, other than confirming that the employee works for it in a legal capacity.
if you mean whether an employer will hire you if you have a canadian law degree, i have no idea.
i'm taking the bar exam this summer without a prep course. i know it can be done because i have a friend who's done it. a few caveats, though:
- i wouldn't do it without the bar bri materials for my self-study. - it's the massachusetts bar - 90% pass rate for first-time takers. - it's a virtual financial necessity for me - i don't qualify for bar loans.
skipping the casebook is not recommended. like the previous poster said, they're excerpts, so you'll end up doing much more reading if you get the cases online. most professors don't dwell too much on the notes and casebook discussion, but the organization of the casebook is useful for helping you understand how the doctrine fits together.