'These MBE questions are way easier than the practice ones!'

We thought we had a winner for most gutsy bar exam performance of July 2011. On Thursday, a woman taking the New Jersey bar exam passed out during the test — then picked herself up off the floor, and went right back to typing.

That’s impressive — but we may have spoken too soon. Here’s a labor-intensive story that tops it.

“A friend of mine went into labor while taking the Illinois bar exam,” a tipster told us. “She calmly finished, went to the hospital, and had her baby an hour or two later. Girl’s a real trooper.”

“A certain Northwestern Law alumna went into labor during the second day of the Illinois bar,” said a second source. “She finished the exam and had her baby, her first, at 5:58 p.m. I think that is worth noting.”

You better believe it’s worth noting. If ever there was a baby immaculately conceived by a lawgiver, this might be the one.

We have all the details — including a picture of the Bar Exam Baby, whom we’ll nickname “Baby Bar”….

We’ve confirmed the story with multiple friends of the new mother, by email and by phone. We’ll refer to the mother in this story as “Mother Bar Exam” or “MBE.”

Contrary to the reader comments posted on our story about the bar exam fainter, MBE’s water didn’t break in the middle of the test, nor did she take the exam sitting on the floor. But she was in active labor throughout much of the afternoon session on Wednesday, and she gave birth less than two hours after leaving the test.

Let’s take it from the top. Mother Bar Exam is a recent graduate of Northwestern Law. She is also a total rock star (not literally, but figuratively). MBE is one of the top-ranked students in the school’s Accelerated J.D. (“AJD”) program, which allows students to get a law degree in two years rather than three.

While in law school, MBE was on the law review board, worked in NU Law’s prestigious Supreme Court clinic, and served as a director in the Young Lawyers’ Section of the Chicago Bar. She has not one but two federal judicial clerkships lined up, one circuit court and one district court, both with excellent judges.

Before the start of the afternoon session on day two (Wednesday) of the Illinois bar exam, the very pregnant MBE mentioned to the proctors the possibility that she might give birth during the test. She asked if she could leave early in the event that she went into labor; they agreed.

So Mother Bar Exam sat down for the afternoon session of the Multistate Bar Exam (“MBE”). Not long after, she started going into labor — not a little discomfort, but full-on labor.

“This was something we joked about with her before the test,” a friend told us. “We didn’t think it would actually happen!”

Fortunately, MBE is as strong as they come. She continued to answer MBE questions, while in active labor, before finishing the exam early, at 4 p.m.

(This lady can finish the bar an hour early while a baby is coming out of her, and you want a special exemption for your ADHD? New rule: you can get your ADHD special exemption if you can also produce a baby on command.)

Upon completing the exam, Mother Bar Exam notified the proctors that she was done and needed to leave, seeing as she was in the middle of giving birth to a child and all. Normally candidates are not allowed to leave the room early, but in this case the proctors accommodated her (especially since she had mentioned the issue to them beforehand).

One proctor was even nice enough to carry MBE’s bag as she walked over to Prentice Women’s Hospital at Northwestern — conveniently located across the street from the testing site. Shortly before 6 p.m., Mother Bar Exam gave birth to a healthy baby boy, via Caesarean section.

The Bar Exam Baby

This story is amazing — and it’s absolutely true. Here’s the email that went around to Mother Bar Exam’s friends (along with the photo of the baby at right, aka “Baby Bar”):

We are pleased to announce that [MBE] not only finished the bar exam yesterday at 4pm, but also gave birth to our son, Baby Boy [Last Name Redacted] (name TBD), at 5:58pm.

He weighed in at 6 lbs, 6 ounces with a reach of 19 inches. Mom, Dad, and Baby are doing well. Pictures are attached :-).

As you can see, Baby Bar has yet to be named. Any suggestions? If the baby had been a girl, we might have suggested BARbara — but it’s a boy. Maybe BARton, or BARnett?

I’d love to see a lawyer make a “women can’t be partners because they have babies” joke around this remarkable woman. Congratulations to Mother Bar Exam, both on finishing the bar exam — early, no less — and on bringing a new life into this world.

P.S. If we find out a few months from now, we will definitely let you know if MBE passes the bar. Given her academic prowess, we have every confidence that she will (knock on wood).

UPDATE (2:00 PM): Here is Professor Ann Althouse’s reaction. She’s quite right: after all that studying, “to have to wait and take the exam months later would be a huge setback.”

UPDATE (3:00 PM): Thanks to Professor Glenn Reynolds for the Instapundit link.

UPDATE (7:00 PM): Here is coverage from Jezebel. For the record, far from being “hostile” to feminism, ATL runs lots of pro-woman commentary. We cannot, however, speak for our commenters.

UPDATE (7/31/11, 3:30 PM): Thanks to Chicagoist and Lowering the Bar for the links.

UPDATE (8/1/11, 10:30 AM): The ABA Journal has a detailed interview with Mother Bar Exam about her unique bar exam experience. MBE’s real name is Elana Nightingale Dawson. After her two clerkships, including one on the Sixth Circuit, Elana Dawson plans to join Kirkland & Ellis. Given her toughness, she should fit right in there!

UPDATE (8/1/11, 8:00 PM): This is a story with bipartisan appeal. Thanks to Hot Air and the Huffington Post for the pick-ups.

UPDATE (10/11/11, 3:30 PM): So did Elana Dawson pass the bar exam? Find out here.


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