Bar Exams, Gay

Bar Review Diaries: The Final Countdown

This is the Final Countdown. Exactly a week from now, many of you will be stuck at desks for upwards of two days, working to finish that little formality they call the Bar Exam. This is the last time we’ll hear from our Bar Review Diarists before they cross the threshold.

They are leaving behind their anxiety, fear and anger about the test. They are starting to accept their fate — whether that means proudly entering laywerhood in the next few weeks… or sometime next February.

Let’s check in on Mike, Mariah and Christopher one last time before they leap out of the nest, hoping to fly on wings of truth and justice…

Talk to us, Mike:

There’s a lot of negative energy going around this week, nearly enough to put me back on my strict 1L diet of fear and coffee.

My bar applicant friends have daily mini-freakouts about their inability to memorize law, so I spend most of my allotted procrastination time giving unlicensed therapy.

If that doesn’t sound fun, my roommate took a cue from my Internet goofs post and emailed me a taste of my own medicine. This video, surely worth the two-minute study break, will motivate you to study, and also give you peace of mind that failing the bar would not end your life. The woman in the video took the Bar 13 times, studying like “Abraham Lincoln” in her minimalist house over six years.

That video is bizarre on so many levels. My head hurts…

Then on Saturday, The New York Times walloped me with another article in its continuing fulmination against law school marketing, explaining how law schools purposely send hundreds of new graduates into the meat grinder of unemployment. And New York has by far the greatest surplus of unemployed entry-level lawyers.

All this negativity is just noise to keep you on your toes and distract you from studying when you need it. So indulge, and then get back to work! You will come a long way in the next week and surprise yourself in how well-prepared you are.

Throughout this blog, I’ve only wanted to say one thing: Good luck, everyone! On test day, take a deep breath and smile in between each essay question knowing you’re about to be a lawyer.

I’ll drink to that. Well said, Mike. No snark necessary. Mariah’s on the same page:

I think we’ve all reached that point where we just want this darned exam over and done with so that we can move on with the rest of our lives.

When I surveyed some friends last week, I also asked them when, between 1L Orientation and the Bar Exam, they experienced their greatest doubts about their decision to go to law school. Aside from the friend who decided to be That Guy and say he really never second-guessed his decision, everyone had their own defining moment.

Some nearly made it to the end, to the moment “when financial aid gave me the envelope with the grand total of loans that I have to pay back.” One friend was destroyed by the “absolutely awful feelings of rejection from EIP.” Another experienced this doubt more than once (“See Every Paper I Ever Wrote v. Procrastination”). Others hit their low point early: One friend hated every morning of 1L spring when he was late for “godforsaken crim.”

Another was disturbed when she “went to a law school house party, and all the girls were wearing little black dresses and all the dudes were incredibly awkward and wouldn’t make eye contact.” I also experienced the most doubt during 1L year. I’d snapped my tib-fib in half in a sledding accident and spent my entire second semester hating every time I had to crutch to school. Actually, hate is putting it mildly.

As The Offspring said, “It’s cool to hate.” Except after a while it just gets tiring…

But we made it! We overcame the EIP rejection, the procrastinated papers, the early classes, the awkward classmates. Maybe we have not overcome the envelope of debt yet, but that’s fake money, right? And we’ll overcome the bar exam, too! You cannot break us, Bar Exam, because we have already been broken!

As for Christopher, somehow he is zen enough to divert his attention from the test for a few hundred words. Oh yeah, and he’s working as a translator. I really don’t know where his finds the motivation:

Studying nonstop would be too much to take, so I’ve been doing some Spanish language interpreting on the side to stay connected with the world outside bar review. Interpreting has given me some perspective on the obstacles faced by people seeking asylum in the U.S.

One such person let me write about him and call him Samuel. Just over a year ago, he fled his Central American home after his boyfriend’s father tried to kill him. On a recent morning at the Asylum Office, I interpreted for Samuel as he told how the father broke into his apartment and discovered the couple in bed. He beat them, took Samuel’s boyfriend home and subjected him to alternate beatings and prayer sessions to try to make him straight.

Samuel broke down when he said it led to his boyfriend’s suicide. Soon after, Samuel woke up to his boyfriend’s father pounding on the door, holding a gun and screaming death threats. Samuel grabbed his birth certificate and cash savings, escaped out the back door and ran to the bus station. He made his way through Mexico and crossed into the U.S. with the help of a coyote.

Holy s**t.

Samuel’s situation is similar to countless others who flee homophobic violence to the U.S. But upon arrival, these people face a new fear: deportation. Many who have been persecuted abroad may be eligible for asylum under U.S. law, but too often they remain unaware of this possibility until they have missed the arbitrary one-year application deadline.

This is Samuel’s situation; although the Asylum officer found his testimony credible, his chances of being granted asylum are low because he didn’t find a lawyer until he had already been in the U.S. for a year. Advocates are pushing for the one-year deadline to be reconsidered. In the meantime, Samuel anxiously awaits a decision from the government.

Now the Bar feels completely meaningless by comparison. Maybe that’s not a bad way to look at it. (You can read more about the intersection of LGBT rights and immigration over at Stop the Deportations.)

Let’s go to Mariah for the last word:

Worst case, we’ll just retake it in February. Whatever.

With that, Godspeed everyone. Catch y’all on the flip side.

Disclosure: This series is sponsored by Themis Bar Review, 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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