There is no upside to the bar exam–if you pass, well, that’s what everyone expected you to do. And you just borrowed $120,000 (not dischargeable in bankruptcy) to pay for a degree that will be useless without passing the bar. So failure isn’t really an option.
Can I share a few bar exam stories?
If you are taking the exam tomorrow, stop reading here. Seriously.
The first is from my first year of law school, three years before the exam. My criminal law professor was chatting with a few students after class. I overheard. They got on to the subject of the bar and what happens to recent law graduates who fail. The professor said, “Well, your firm is going to tell you, ‘Don’t worry, it’s not the end of the world, it happens all the time to very bright people, you will pass it next time and go on to a great career’ et cetera. And to a certain extent they are right–you’ll study again and pass it on your second try. Within a couple of years, however, you will change firms because you don’t want to practice with a firm full of lawyers that know that you failed the first time, and they’re uncomfortable keeping you around. Your career may not end right away. But know this: Though it may not be over right away, or in a year, or two, or even five, your law career will inevitably fail, and when it finally does, you will look back and realize that you received the mortal wound the day you failed the bar exam.” He was a really fun guy that way.
Three years later, I took the exam in a giant convention center with about 1,000 other nervous nellies. I had taken the prep course, had the practice exams graded, and otherwise studied diligently for a few months. In the lunch break of day two of the three day exam, I ran in to another guy who would be starting with me at my new firm in a few weeks. He had the same doomed expression on his face as the rest of us. But he said something that inadvertently gave me just the morale boost I needed to get over the next day and a half: “I’m starting to think that I should have begun studying long before two weeks ago.” Nevertheless, he passed. I passed too, but I wasted a whole summer doing it.
On another break, I met a friend from law school. As we were walking back from lunch to main hall of the convention center, we noticed a bunch of happy, smiling, relaxed, tanned, healthy people heading upstairs to some of the smaller meeting rooms. We decided to follow them to see what made those bastards so happy. Turns out the other side of the convention center was rented to the yearly meeting of the Perennial Plant Association. We poked our head in to the vendor area and watched them mill about. We fantasized momentarily about registering for the conference on the spot, skipping the rest of the exam, and becoming horticulturalists. We lacked the guts. Still do.
Share your bar exam stories below.