Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Bar exam in 12 days: scary photos, scarier practice tests, and a final push to the end

It's ten o'clock at night and I'm still buckled down in the living room, poring over special venue provisions for civil actions against Kentucky tobacco growers. Earlier today, it was reams of multiple choice questions for a sample MBE test. In twelve more days, I'll sit down with several hundred other students and take the bar. I'm actually starting to feel OK about it. Over the last few weeks, however, I've been through intellectual boot camp: eight to ten hours a day of studying, thousands of pages of facts and rules, seventeen different outlines, countless essays, etc. As one fellow student put it recently,
Agency, Civil Procedure, Commercial Paper, Secured Transactions, Torts, Wills, Trusts, Administrative Law, Conflict of Law, Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, Domestic Relations, Evidence, Income Tax, Personal Property, Real Property. Anyone feeling overwhelmed?
After law school, at left, and before the bar, at right
You can get a sense of the pressure and stress from the photo at right, depicting me at graduation from law school (confident, happy, full of wisdom) and then just a few days ago when bar prep was in full swing (haggard, frightened, mentally drained). I'm kidding, of course. Sort of. Maybe. From what I gather, most other recent law grads are going through exactly the same process, straddling the line between burnout and freakout. One of the brighter spots is that I've gotten a lot of great advice from friends, law professors, and practicing attorneys. Some of what they've said:

  • Accept the fact that this summer will be the worst summer you have experienced in a long time, and perhaps the worst ever. However, the worse your summer, the better the bar exam. If the summer is going really well, the bar probably will not.
  • The bar is a rite of passage, and you'll most likely get through it. It doesn't have a lot to do with actually practicing law, and you can perform below average on the bar and still pass. 
  • Bar prep tests are designed to scare the hell out of you (this much is certainly true), so that you'll study harder, and do fine on the real deal. 
  • Most law students from Louisville pass the Kentucky bar with no problem (our pass rate is typically around 90 percent). The few who fail either didn't study hard, had a major panic attack during the exam, or had major personal problems strike in the days or weeks before the test. 
This will be my last blog post before the bar. I'm already feeling guilty about my tobacco growers and their venue provisions (please, for everyone's sake, sue them in the county where their warehouse is located, or where the grower resides). I have a feeling that the bar exam will turn out fine, but I'm not leaving anything up to chance. Don't cross your fingers for me. I don't want luck. Pushing hard until the end seems to be the only way to do it.


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