Monday, July 23, 2012

Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer's Day? Preparing for the Summer Bar Exam

If you are a recent law grad, chances are you spent the last few months studying for the bar. While your friends and family enjoyed the dog days of summer, you were huddled miserably in some uncharted nook with your nose hard pressed betwixt review materials. I "fondly" recall my own bar exam experience. At the time I was a law student in the Big Apple.  Seeking the tranquility of New England, I decided to quit my job, broke up with my girlfriend and temporarily moved back home to Connecticut to prepare for the exam.  I holed up in my old bedroom at my parents house. It was exactly as I left it. Sitting on my Star Wars bedsheets, I gazed at a tattered Whalers poster on my wall and wondered if I too would suffer the same end.  Would I end up like the Whalers?  If I didn't pass the Connecticut Bar, would I be forced to move to another state? Would my years of enduring the Socratic Method be all for naught?   My pondering was interrupted with a knock on a door. "Do you want a sandwich my little Perry Mason?" asked my mother.  "Mom!  I left specific instructions not to be disturbed!  Now cut the crust off and leave it by the door. Geez!"  

Whether it was the bar exam or law school finals, the worst thing you could say to me was "I know what your going through."  Unless you were a lawyer, you had no idea.  Your pottery final was nothing like my exam.  I was preparing for a 14 hour crap fest testing everything I wish I paid attention about in law school.  I remember panicking. Were my Bar Bri materials enough? Should I start looking at my old law school notes? How many practice exams should I take? The night before, I decided nothing else could be crammed into the limited space between my ears. I decided to watch a movie. One that had nothing to do with the law. For Connecticut law students, the bar exam is a wonderful two day extravaganza starting July 24th. I will take this opportunity to offer some last minute nuggets of wisdom.

(1) Don't go nuts looking at added study materials, stick with your plan.

(2) Don't study right up to the exam, get a good nights sleep.

(3) Don't let other test takers in the room ruin your concentration. Bring ear plugs. Do not focus on their relentless sobbing.

(4) Take a walk in your local courthouse or watch any lawyer tv commercial.  There are lots of idiots who managed to pass.  If they can do it, so can you.

(5) Before the exam, I also suggest using a Zen like mantra I learned from an old shaman. Sit on the floor in the lotus position. Repeat out loud 12 times "Have you ever been injured in an auto accident, if so call me."

(6) If you went to a lower ranked school, wear a shirt from an ivy league law school.  Wearing a Harvard Law sweatshirt will intimidate those around you.

(7) Think of all your friends spending the day swimming or going to parties.  Think of all the people you know who have great paying  jobs who didn't have to go through the rigors of law school.  Think of that jerk Socrates and his teaching methods.  Get mad.   Embrace the power of the Darkside. Unleash it on the bar exam.

(8)  The answers to the multi-state are A, B ,A, C, D, A, B, A  Millard Fillmore, The War of 1812, and Up, Up, Down, Down, Left Right, Left Right B, A (SELECT) (START).  Actually, the last part might be the cheat code to Contra.

Of course, if you need some real inspiration, check out A Connecticut Law Blog  I wish you the best of luck and look forward to seeing you in the trenches.


Cliff Tuttle said...


I have a bar exam story, too. In what could have turned out to be a fatal decision, I got married on the day after my last exam. The cram course started three days later. We had a 1 day honeymoon, a two day move into our new digs and then off to the cram course every morning.

Since I was no longer living in my parents' house, I had to get a job in a hurry. I found one writing briefs at the PD's office -- several of my classmates had left them in a hurry to study for the bar. So, with a cram course in the morning, a job in the afternoon and a new wife at night, I studied for the bar exam about (this is only rough guess) 30 seconds, give or take a minute.

Fortunately, I passed.

Cliff Tuttle
Pittsburgh Legal Back Talk

Irene C. Olszewski, Esq. said...

True story: After 3 years of law school, those nightmare final exams, and weeks of the never-ending bar prep course, I was burnt out -- and out of enthusiasm. Although I fully intended to continue studying every day until the exam, I took up gardening instead. My neighbors loved the new landscaping. I awoke at 5 a.m. (something I had never done before and most certainly have not done since) and hand-clipped blades of grass, weeded the newly mulched beds before the weeds had barely grown above the ground's surface, and acquired what was fondly known as a "farmer's tan". Oh, I did play those wonderful bar exam prep tapes all day long ... in the background ... as far away from my range of hearing as possible. Apparently, it worked. I passed on the first try. Perhaps I should market my own bar prep course?

Kim W. said...

I saw this on twitter after searching #barexam just to see what others were saying. I clicked on it thinking it would be another lackluster post about tips that don't apply to me and would just stress me out more than I already am. This was actually helpful, funny, and nostalgic. (My mom was so much better at Contra than I was.) Thanks!

Adrian M. Baron said...

Thank you for the nice comments Kim. I wish you the best of luck. I hope it relieved at least a little stress.

Louise Martin said...

I really enjoy reading your posts, Adrian! This is another funny post and I'm sure many bar examinees out there felt glad you shared this.

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