Asians, Bar Exams, Law Schools, Ohio State - Moritz College of Law

Bar Review Diaries: To Celebrate or To Study? That Is the Question

Jeanette graduated from Columbia Law and has moved out west for the summer to be with her folks. Although it might not be exactly what you expect:

I’ve been in Irvine, California, for exactly one day now. This place is what a friend of mine calls the “parking lot of suburbs”; there is a lot of clean, open space with tree-lined sidewalks, and there is hardly any foot traffic except in its large well-maintained parks. It is in many ways the anti-Manhattan. And as one would expect from an anti-Manhattan, there is very little, if any, reliable public transportation. The downside of living in a suburb with no public transportation is that it’s difficult to get around.

Yep. Sounds like a pretty accurate description of Irvine, and perhaps most of Southern California. Nothing sounds like more fun than spending the summer in SoCal suburbs, studying for the bar, at your parents’ house. Unlike Nathan, at least it sounds like Jeanette will have no problem being super productive:

One thing I should mention about my parents is that they are, in some ways, stereotypical Asian immigrant parents. I love them and am eternally grateful for everything they have done, but it is a fact that one way they fit the stereotype is that they take test preparation seriously. I would describe their approach to helping me prepare for exams as “militaristic asceticism.” It was a Hobbesian social contract (perhaps a unilateral contract that I accepted by being born into a Korean family?), in which I surrendered my independence for the promise of a good score. I thought this method was a relic of my childhood, but last night, my father informed me that he would not be putting my name on their insurance for fear that I will have too much fun driving places, which would distract me from studying.

Like many other immigrant parents, I’m sure, my parents have done some crazy things for the sake of test preparation. My parents would go out of their ways to make sure I don’t have to lift a finger for anything other than turning pages and bubbling in scantrons, but they would also go out of their ways to make sure I do nothing but turn pages and bubble in scantrons. One of the funniest — though upsetting at the time — things they did was ripping out the answer key pages from SAT books so that I couldn’t cheat when taking practice exams. I reminded them of this, and told them that they won’t be able to do that this time because most of the Themis practice questions are online. My mother said ominously, “we will find a way.”

Wow. Do I smell some summer conflict in the Kang household?

This morning, I sat down with my parents and tried to negotiate my way out of reliving the past. I showed them the study schedule I made for myself, reminded them about how I dealt with the LSATs on my own, and showed them my birth certificate to emphasize that I am an adult. After getting knocked in the head for unnecessarily being a jerk with the birth certificate thing, they agreed to put me on the insurance as long as I don’t disappear for days at a time. I was a little shocked by how easily they changed their minds. Then it dawned on me that perhaps I was a little too quick to assume that they would reboot their old ways. Perhaps it was me who approached this summer with the same mindset as the past.

Only time will tell. But in the mean time, as I type this entry, I see my mother scrolling around on the Themis website and I wonder if she’s trying to delete the practice exam answers.

First, I’m impressed that Jeanette has an easily accessible copy of her birth certificate. More importantly, I’m excited to see not only how Jeanette’s bar studies go but also how her relationship with her parents develops. I feel like we’ve just seen the pilot for a new prime time TV drama, Tiger Mother (starring Lucy Liu as Amy Chua).

In any case, let’s give a nice warm welcome to our new Bar Review Diarists. We will check in with them again next week!

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

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