CONTINUOUS PROJECT, ALTERED OCCASIONALLY

Taking the Bar

On the Bar Exam

Published on Aug 9th, 2010 by


PHOTO: Limonada

My apologies, to anyone who may still read this thing, for my intentional neglect. I went on a self-imposed blog hiatus as I underwent the semiannual hazing ritual for all new lawyers known as the bar exam.

For recent law graduates, life divides neatly into equal halves. There is everything that has come before the bar exam (B.B.) and then there is post bar exam (A.B., annos barexamini). The bar exam has the unique ability to obliterate all your other interests, achievements, dreams or aspirations, at least temporarily. They are like 8mm home movies – quaint, adorable and distant. Preparing for the exam on the other hand, has the immediacy of being chased by hungry animals. Anticipation is 90% of the suffering. In comparison, taking the exam itself was a blessed relief.

Assume the Fetal Position

For those inclined to dwell on the consequences of failure, and here future lawyers are a self-selected group of adept doomsayers, there’s a lot riding on the outcome. Those with jobs are convinced they would be promptly shown the door. Those without jobs know that they are interviewing with one hand tied being their back until their name appears. As veteran criminal defense lawyer Scott Greenfield aptly put it:

Suddenly, all those smart-mouthed know-it-all kids who were busy telling lawyers all about their vision of the law are lying in their beds in the fetal position, praying that they don’t screw it up and reveal to the world, and their mothers, that they are are total, complete failures.Or so that’s what I read at Thanks, But No Thanks, a law student blog I read about on Ed’s Weekly Law School Roundup.

There is reason for optimism. The statistics are on our side. The pass rate in Texas was 87.63% last year. That’s comforting in the abstract; the odds of being struck by lightning are minuscule, but tell that to Roy Sullivan. Greenfield attempts to comfort us:

Calm down. Take a deep breath. Not because I’m sure you’ll do fine. I’m not. I don’t even know who you are, and you may well be the loser you fear you are. But getting yourself worked into a lather isn’t going to help you any. Nobody does better on the bar exam by hyperventilating. Here’s the deal. Take the rest of the time off from your studies. If you don’t know it by now, it’s too late. No seriously, it’s too late. And chances are in your favor that you know more than you think. Most people pass the bar exam, and you fall into that category.

Debating the Usefulness of the Exam

A debate surges on the use and usefulness of the bar exam. It is, depending on your view, a cartel organized to restrict entry into the legal profession and prop up salaries, an empty and painful ritual inflicted by an absurd and fusty guild, an arcane memory test, a demonstration of minimum technical competence to practice law necessary to protect the public and safeguard the judicial system, or a demonstration of worthiness in both competence and character and fitness to practice law. As for me, it’s not yet my place to ask why, just show me the hoop and tell me how high.

The Other Bar Exam…

…starts right after the first one is finished.

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Volunteers needed…

Published on Jun 9th, 2010 by

There’s an analogy for law students in here somewhere, but I’m going to wait until after taking the bar before doing any existential self-analysis.

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