The bar exam begins tomorrow for many of you (e.g., those of you in Above the Law’s home jurisdiction of New York). To those of you sitting for the test tomorrow, we wish you the best of luck. To quote the Facebook status update of a lawyer who has been through the ordeal (and survived):
Good luck, bar takers!! If you get nervous, remember that the bar exam is nothing compared to the crippling debt you will be saddled with for the next 20 years and the meager job prospects you will face!
Cheery, right? Many of you still need to find jobs. But first things first; take one day at a time.
We’d reassure you and say, “Don’t worry, you’re not going to fail.” And, statistically, this is true for many of you — e.g., July first-time bar takers in New York.
But we won’t say that, because we know how some bar exam candidates hate it when people tell them they’re going to pass….
A reader who’s taking the bar this week wrote us as follows:
This blog post perfectly encapsulates why I want to strangle everyone who tells me that I’m not going to fail. I MIGHT! In fact, I’m pretty convinced I will.
The post in question is long but interesting (and has definitely struck a nerve; there are over 60 comments on it already). Entitled “Please stop telling me I’m going to pass the Bar,” it begins:
I am not a panicker. I never have been. I’m a major proponent of the Seriously Just Chill The Hell Out school of major life event prep, and I’ve been known on more than one occasion to tell 1Ls, OLs, and everyone else who will listen that they need to stop taking life quite so seriously. But right now? I’m panicking. Ten days till the bar exam, and every time I start to think about it, I feel like I may break out in hives.
I suspect this is the case for most of my fellow test-takers. Yes, we need to stop taking ourselves so seriously. But also? Even for the most chill among us, this is A Really Big Fucking Deal. $100,000 in loan debt and three years later, this is the test that will determine whether we actually get to be a lawyer. And no, 2Ls, I am sorry to inform you: that $100,000 that you’ll be paying off till you’re 50 did nothing to actually prepare you for this exam. So here, in this 2 1/2 month timeline, you must cram everything there is to know about this state’s law into your head, and hope that most of it sticks come exam time. It’s an extraordinary amount of pressure, akin to nothing else I have done in life.
Well, look on the bright side: the dismal legal job market might actually be good news for bar failers. Law school graduates are taking longer and longer to find jobs, so even if you don’t pass the bar the first time, it might not matter anyway — you still might not be able to find a job. So go ahead, fail the July bar; take it again in February, and perhaps by the time you learn of your passing, you’ll have been able to obtain employment.
The post closes with what the writer does want to hear from friends and loved ones:
So, friends and family of the bar-takers: I extend my condolences to you. I know we are just miserable to be around right now. But we do need you. Not to tell us that we will pass, but to tell us that you (as Darwin so eloquently put it) have faith in us. Even if you’re certain that we’re out of our minds, you won’t change them — to me, the specter of failing is just as real, and just as terrifying, as a child who’s been left at a grocery store, convinced he’s alone for good. No, your parents haven’t left you forever, and no, you may be right. We may pass. But in this moment, we feel alone, and overwhelmed, and totally terrified. The bar exam is [tomorrow]. We don’t need assurances that we’ll pass, we need your help to mitigate the crazy. We’re looking for damage control. Tell us you understand how we’re feeling, and you think we’re smart. Give us a hug.
Aww…. Here you go:
Looking for some last-minute tips for tomorrow? See our good luck post from last year, or check out the Bar/Bri fortune cookie generator. One of our tipsters found it “obnoxious,” but some of the advice is wise.
P.S. Earlier today we presented you with a wacky bar exam hypothetical, courtesy of Liz Wurtzel. It’s wacky, and lengthy, but it’s not impossible. Professor Richard Epstein, who teaches torts, offers some advice for tackling it.
Please stop telling me I’m going to pass the Bar. [Thanks, But No Thanks]
BarBri Fortune Cookie [BarBri]
The Bar Exam Isn’t Senseless, and Neither Is Law, Part II [Ricochet]