Bar Exams, Law Schools

Bar Review Diaries: Making Law From Fire Logs

I’m not sure how to say this, but I think some of our columnists are starting to get a little unhinged.

This week on the Bar Review Diaries, we’ll start off with some wood-piling hallucinations and imaginary Kiwi exchange students.

Let’s join Mariah in Vermont, a.k.a. the 1860s, after the jump…

Studying for the bar involves more memorization and retention than I have had to do for a long time. While I’m all for Mike’s idea of “The Bachmann,” I’m afraid tattooing will only get me so far. Also, last I checked, there were no tattoo parlors in town — just a general store, the library, a church, town hall and the post office.

Instead, I work with what I have: four cords of firewood. For those of you who don’t know, four cords is a lot of firewood. I know it is a lot of firewood, because everyone who stops by the house says something like, “Holy crap, that is a lot of firewood.”

It’s okay, because there is a lot to remember for the bar exam. Stacking firewood while I listen to lectures keeps me active, and I can use it to develop hypos.

OK, so am I the only one starting to wonder if Mariah is working in a smoky, candlelit log cabin, wearing an old-timey dress? Just sayin’…

For example, when studying Contracts, I consider this: Suppose A contacts B, offering B $1,000 to deliver and stack four cords of firewood. B responds by dumping four cords of firewood in A’s front yard. B does not stack the firewood, because B realizes what a pain in the ass stacking four cords of firewood is. Does A still have 
to pay B?

I also use it to remember Family Law: Suppose A and B are married (hold up one stick of firewood). There are three ways this marriage can be terminated: annulment (toss wood away); divorce (hack wood in half); or death (burn it)..

Are the days starting to melt together? Is your firewood coming to life? Do you feel lost amidst the heat and endless online lectures?

It’s that weird, teenage-y summer break languor: you have tons of homework to do and hypos to memorize and logs to stack, and then you realize it’s noon and you’re still wearing pj’s.

I know Mike can relate:

The beauty of Themis is the freedom to study anytime, anywhere. Until now, I did the majority of my studying in my living room or on my patio. Sweet, right? I can sit on my couch, sip coffee and put my feet up to take a few lessons. No commute, no hassle. The only problem is none of my roommates ever heard of the bar exam.

On Monday, I was all set to start studying when my roommates woke up and watched a Highlander marathon. After a few episodes, I questioned whether my roommates were as employed as they claim to be. Then I realized I had to get out of there or I would end up unemployed myself after failing the bar.

Seriously. I work at home too. On random mornings I find my “employed” roommates playing Wii Baseball on the couch. What’s the deal?


I went to the NYU Law Library. Seventy-five dollar fee to study there this summer? No thanks. I tried NYU’s undergraduate library but was stopped trying to hop the turnstile. I convinced security I was a visiting student from New Zealand and they granted me access for the day.

I wonder if he faked an accent…

I can’t waste that time and energy every morning, so on Tuesday I caught a train to the New York Public Library… and nirvana. There’s an enormous reading room with 60-foot high gilded ceilings, two story windows, and droves of tourists watching people study. 

A word of warning: the library is frigid, even when it’s 100 degrees and humid outside. It’s so cold in the afternoon that the Internet freezes to a halt.

When I need to thaw out, I lay in the library’s backyard, Bryant Park. There are few places in the world where so many people in business suits have smiles on their faces. Maybe it’s because there’s an outdoor bar, Bryant Park Grill — a great spot to grab a drink when you’re done studying or lunch if Property has really got you down. Twice a week, I opt for a healthier de-stresser and indulge in free yoga on the lawn. I’m thinking my fellow blogger, Christopher Curran, might enjoy this place.

Close, but no cigar, Mike. This week, our holistically minded contributor contemplates community gardening and the surprisingly complex legal regime surrounding it.

Seeing as Christopher is the only one who hasn’t yet considered tattooing the Constitution onto his body as a study aid, I’m beginning to think he has the right priorities:

Summer is all about amazing fresh produce, and since cooking provides a welcome break from bar studying, I’ve been throwing myself into it. I’ve also been admiring the growing number of community gardens in my neighborhood. I still have a lot to learn about actually growing food, but I have already had the chance to learn about the labyrinth of legal restrictions that govern its production and sale.

Last summer I interned at the Sustainable Economies Law Center in Oakland, Calif., where I helped urban farmers and gardeners understand tax, zoning, liability, building code, water access, and other rules that affect their ability to grow food. On farm visits, I discovered many farmers were forced to cut internship and training programs because of legal restrictions on volunteer labor conducted at for-profit businesses.

Though the rules were made in response to very real and egregious abuses of farm workers, the pattern of enforcement by the state seemed to put small and sustainable farming operations at risk.

In light of this and other complex legal issues that create obstacles for those who want to ensure our access to a healthy food supply, the Sustainable Economies Law Center launched a Food and Livelihoods Project to research the issues and propose solutions. In April, San Francisco adopted a law to allow residents to raise and sell vegetables without a permit. Other cities are taking similar steps.

This summer, though, rather than think too deeply about the future of our food system, I’ll get back to making flashcards about the distinctions between the Federal Rules of Evidence and the California Evidence Code.  Thankfully, I have some locally grown brain food to get me through.

Fascinating stuff. I’m no green thumb (though homegrown mint makes for killer mojitos), and I definitely didn’t know there was so much legal wrangling going on behind the scenes of my local farmers’ market.

That’s all for this week. Tune in next week for more from the Log Lady, Windom Earle and Agent Cooper (couldn’t help myself — Twin Peaks rules).

Disclosure: This series is sponsored by Themis, which is an ATL advertiser.

Christopher Danzig is a writer in Oakland, California. He previously covered legal technology for InsideCounsel magazine. Follow Chris on Twitter @chrisdanzig or email him at You can read more of his work at

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