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Gradenfreude: I Passed the Bar Exam, But I Still Mop the Floors at My Crappy Job

Ed. note: Gradenfreude is a new series chronicling a recent law school graduate’s life after attending an unranked school. Feel free to email the author at, and he’ll respond ASAP. After all, it’s not like he has anything better to do.

I know that I complain about my job a lot, but when you have the experiences that I’ve got under my belt since graduating from law school, I think I have the right to complain. Personally, when I’m at work and thinking about how much I hate the job, I’ll sometimes wonder, “What could possibly make this worse?”

Last week, I found out.

I walked up to my boss as he was speaking to a coworker about the lack of intelligence required to do our job, and he said, “It’s not like we have a bunch of lawyers walking around here.” And my coworker responded, “Actually, now we do have one.” It was then that my boss grabbed a mop and said, “Tristan, just because you passed the bar exam doesn’t mean that you can’t clean the floor.”

Wow. I didn’t realize that it was possible, but my boss actually made me hate my job even more….

But on a good note, now that I have officially passed the bar, and am simply awaiting admission, I no longer feel like it’s a complete waste of my time to send out résumés and spend my free time looking for jobs.

Even though my résumé still says that I went to a law school that most people probably think is an online tech school, getting a new piece of paper that says I’ve achieved something somehow gives me new hope. It’s also rejuvenating to finally be able to look for attorney positions, rather than anything that’s even remotely legal.

Even though it’s empowering, I ultimately don’t feel very different. Everyone that I talk to is convinced that everything will work out, and that I’ll soon find employment as a real lawyer. But I’m just convinced that they’re kind people saying what they think they should. Isn’t that what you’d do?

As someone who has seen numerous friends languish in bar passage/unemployment purgatory, I can’t find myself being quite as upbeat. So now, I’m just happy to have any employment, and be able to at least help pay the bills (even though I’m contributing a rather paltry amount). In other words, while passing the bar made me hate my job even more, it also made me appreciate having a job a little bit more than I did before.

Getting away from the subject of the bar exam, I have to regrettably say that I took some solace in the misfortune of others last week. A new employee at my job graduated from college with a degree in the same major as I had all those years ago. He came to work in retail after recently being laid off by a major company in the field. Now, I’m not happy that he was laid off, but it showed that even if I did things differently, I might still be in a lamentably similar situation.

So I could’ve wasted the previous years working a job that I likely would’ve hated, only to be stocking shelves after being laid off. But instead, I went to a no-name law school, acquired a massive amount a debt, passed a test to get a better job (without any encouraging leads on a better job), and now I stock shelves.

I’ll call it a push.

When not writing about life after law school for Above the Law, Tristan Taylor Thomas (not his real name) works at a retail job stocking shelves — which he admits is slightly better than being a shoeshiner. You can reach him by email at

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