Bar Exam Horror Stories

Mid-June and approximately six weeks to the bar exam.  If you are only mildly stressed right now, don’t worry, it will get worse, and worse, and yet worse, with, if you are like me, successive panic apexes interspersed with periods of apathy.  A wonderful cycle.  

This column doesn’t usually come with advice, but for your sanity I recommend taking a week off after your bar review course during which you don’t crack the books at all. It might help to have a facilitator ensuring you are perpetually inebriated during that time, so you won’t be tempted. All I can say is it worked for me….

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The day after the July 2013 bar exam concluded nationwide, we broke the news about a young woman of Muslim faith who was taken to task by a proctor over her religious headwear, a hijab. The proctor didn’t approach the examinee before testing on the Massachusetts exam started, or even during the lunch break — instead, the proctor passed her a note during the morning session of the exam, instructing her to remove her headscarf (even though the examinee had already received approval to wear it).

To interrupt someone during the bar exam and break their concentration over something that could’ve been taken care of when testing was not in session is not only incredibly rude, but also incredibly stupid. This is a professional exam that will determine if and when a person will be able to start their legal career. Why do something that could put their chances of passing in jeopardy? On top of that, why do something that could make it look like this was religiously motivated? This was a bad move on many levels.

From the Council on American-Islamic Relations to legal academics to the internet at large, people were upset about the way that the incident unfolded. Now the state is doing something about it…

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This is what you could call a slow news week. It’s kind of the exact opposite of the week that inspired me to start writing these missives. Back then, the Supreme Court was handing down rulings and the Zimmerman trial was getting off to a disastrous start for the defense. It all seems so long ago.

The latter days of the summer are always slow in law as partners and judges go on vacation and students await the return to school. The bar exam provides some light entertainment and OCI generally provides a gem or two, but otherwise it’s a slow period.

And that’s when people can get tripped up by satire masquerading as news.

Here’s a short round-up of a few key stories from the week including how satire fooled a lot of the ATL-verse and some high profile cases that had milestone moments…

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From earthquakes to power outages to going into labor, we’ve written about almost every kind of bar exam horror story that exists on this earth. But we’ve never seen or heard of one that has been motivated by alleged religious bias — until today.

Everyone knows that things like hats, hoods, scarves, and visors are not allowed to be worn during the bar exam. But religious headgear, like Sikh dastars and Jewish yarmulkes, is permitted, as long as special written approval has been obtained before the test from a state’s board of bar examiners.

When there’s a miscommunication somewhere along the line, things don’t always go as planned. Yesterday, a proctor in Massachusetts passed a distasteful note to a Michigan Law graduate of Muslim faith during the morning essay session. We have a copy of that note…

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I could have gone with a picture of the other thing in the title.

Tuesday was the first day of the bar exam. That means now we get to share “stupid bar exam stories.” Yay!

Our first batch of bar exam adventures can be summed up by the student who hired a guy on TaskRabbit to sit in a café all morning and save her a seat for lunch near the Jacob Javits Center. It sounds extreme, but that bar exam is all about extremes.

Anyway, the girl was trying to get other students to go in with her on her bar exam “valet,” and she described TaskRabbit this way: “Task Rabbit is also available to run any emergency errands (if you need advil, tampons, or extra pencils from the store) during the lunch hour and while we are in the exam.”

As it turns out, at other testing centers, we had people who kind of needed emergency tampons and pencils….

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Tomorrow, many readers will begin the last exam of their lives (excluding DMV renewals). Most are hunkered down poring over notes, taking last-minute practice exams, and generally questioning the life decisions that brought them to this moment.

But more than a few are searching for almost anything to distract them from incessant studying today. This post is for them. We’ve gathered together some random thoughts on the exam, some time-wasting links, and of course a thread to commiserate.

Gear up for some ATL Classic tales of bar exam woe, a Downfall video, tales of a dumb test-taker, and cat pictures!

Good luck!

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‘Oh my God, I failed the bar exam…’

The July 2013 bar exam is exactly two weeks from today. Some of you have been studying your asses off since graduation, and some of you just started studying. In either case, no matter what you do, some of you will fail — perhaps miserably (been there, done that), or perhaps by just a point or two (been there, done that, several times), but still, you’ll fail. But maybe it’s not so bad? Come on, even famous people have failed. No. Just no. It is that bad.

The experience is absolutely mortifying because for the first time in your life, you’ve been beaten by a test. Maybe you studied the “wrong” way, maybe you had an anxiety attack halfway through the test and had to take a few crying breaks in the bathroom, maybe you skipped a bubble on the Scantron sheet and didn’t realize it until time was about to be called. Whatever happened, whatever bar exam horror story you experienced, you failed. You failed, and it’s a mark that will follow you for the rest of your life, even if you eventually pass.

This is a test you do not want to fail: you’ll be disappointed in yourself, and worse yet, even though they’ll say they aren’t, your parents will be disappointed in you. You do not want to fail this test. But if you think you’re going to fail, perhaps you should start preparing yourself for the worst before the exam.

For a great example of how to shrug off your impending bar failure with humor, keep reading…

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Taking the bar shouldn’t be like running in the Iditarod.

My God, I am glad I wasn’t cast down with the sodomites and forced to take the February administration of the bar exam. Apparently, not only does February have the usual amount of administrative errors, but some of the students who take the February exam are downright gross.

Yesterday, we told you about the power outage during the Missouri bar exam. We need to close the loop on that because the power came back on, but the technology did not.

Still, at least the people in Missouri maintained basic human civility. You can’t say the same for the test takers in Texas….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Bar Exam Horror Stories: Losing Power > Losing Bladder Control”

They should have a booth at the North Carolina state fair for the best homegrown law graduate.

It is time for bar exam results already?

You know, if state boards of law examiners were actually attuned to the economic realities for recent law graduates, they would be trying to get bar exam results out as soon as possible. Right now there are a lot of kids who can’t even credibly start looking for jobs until they get their bar results.

Of course, when dealing with state boards of law examiners, we’re dealing with a group of people who administer exams under blackout conditions. In large barns. Without air conditioning. Bar examiners are not the most responsive group of people in the universe.

Still, one state got its bar results out quickly — which should allow a lot of time for failing students to challenge their scores…

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Is the bar exam like a rat race? Well, when there are actual rats in the building....

If you just completed the 2012 bar exam, congratulations. For many of you, the bar exam will be the last test you ever take in your life. How good does that feel?

Special congratulations to those of you who just emerged from three days of bar exam misery, either because you took the bar in a state with a three-day test or because you took the bar in two different states. I took the New York and New Jersey bar exams back to back — and I had to take New York up in Albany, which meant hours of driving with a fried mind — so I feel your pain.

Pain and the bar exam go hand in hand. Earlier this week, we shared with you bar exam horror stories from Virginia and North Carolina.

Today we have many more bar exam dispatches. Read on for stories of horror and heroism, reports of rodents and other creepy critters, and claims of shady behavior….

UPDATE (7/27/2012, 11 AM): Please note the UPDATE appended below regarding the Virginia bar exam.

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(And more horror stories from across the land.)

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