Bar Exam

It’s been a little more than a month since the administration of the July 2013 bar exam reached its conclusion, and the most epic of waiting games has begun. Test takers are anxiously biding their time until their respective state bars decide to tell them their fates.

Some people have already received their results. Over the long holiday weekend, we received several emails about the results for the North Carolina exam — which is impressive considering that last summer, the state board of law examiners couldn’t even keep the lights on during the exam. North Carolina usually has the quickest turn around time on bar exam results, averaging about four weeks between the time the exam ends and the reporting of results.

But unfortunately, not all test takers are so lucky. Some states take months upon months to get their results out to bar examinees, and the wait is torture. Why the hell does the grading process take so long?

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Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts from the ATL Career Center’s team of expert contributors. Today, Alison Monahan shares some practical advice for new law students.

There’s a ton of (virtual) ink being spilled these days over what to do as a new law student. Everything from “buy all your books and read ahead” to “hire a tutor to explain the Rule Against Perpetuities.” (I only wish I was making that last one up. For the record, don’t do it.)

Since I don’t like to be boring, here are a few less obvious things you can do, to make your life easier and better later on. Trust me, I learned most of these the hard way!

1. Set up automated backups on your laptop. Seriously, if you only do one thing before law school starts, do this. Have you ever lost years of work in a hard drive crash? It’s a nightmare. Imagine you’re a week from exams, and your computer dies, taking EVERYTHING you worked on all semester with it. DO NOT let this happen to you. Go to Dropbox right now, and sign up for the free version. Make a folder called “Law School” and add it to your Dropbox. Save every file you create in law school there. Presto, problem solved. You can thank me later. (I don’t care if you use Dropbox, but it is really easy. Use whatever you like, but do something. I’m paranoid enough now that I back up to Dropbox and to an external hard drive, but that’s probably overkill.)

Read more at the ATL Career Center…

As bar exam week wraps up, we have some delightful stories about how people celebrated the completion of what could be the last test they’ll ever take.

None of these stories are coming out of Massachusetts, which means that none of these people finished the bar while being harassed about their fundamental religious rights. Instead, we have stories about beer and (unrelated) car accidents.

But we’re going to start with the guy who left the bar exam in a limo, because clearly that’s the right thing to do…

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You mean you can’t draw power from this bad boy?

Last year, during the North Carolina bar exam, there was a power outage. This outage stressed and inconvenienced students. North Carolina makes some students take the bar in a barn, so it was entirely foreseeable that the power would go out.

But I think the point is that power outages are pretty foreseeable everywhere. Bar exam proctors should know exactly what to do when the power goes out. There shouldn’t be confusion. People shouldn’t be running around acting like it’s 10,000 B.C. during an eclipse.

Then again, I’m going to give a slight pass to the people who administer the bar exam in Hawaii. When the power goes out, I’m sure that proctors expect would-be Hawaiian lawyers to act more like Hawaiians and less like uptight, stressed out lawyers everywhere else…

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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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Steal her space, and she will cut you.

We’re here folks. With the bar exam a couple of weeks away we are officially in that special time of year where any young person with law books should be given a very wide berth. Do not make any sudden movements around people studying for the bar. Do not make direct eye contact with them. Do NOT touch their snacks and sodas, you can lose a finger that way.

And, for the love of God, don’t mess with their study areas in the library. Can you smell it? They’ve been there for days. They’ve urinated around their study carrels to mark the territory as theirs — and also because they don’t want to waste time going to the bathroom. If you happen to see a study area that is momentarily unattended, do not take it. Bad things will happen to you.

Especially in Brooklyn, as this unsuspecting student found out the hard way…

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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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Unlike when the New York bar exam results were released in early November, we’re not experiencing a hurricane-induced blackout. But today, some people might wish that they were experiencing a different kind of hurricane-induced blackout (one that involves alcohol, not nature), because we’ve finally got a list of the passage rates for the July 2012 administration of the New York bar exam by law school.

Last year, more than half of the state’s law schools were able to improve their pass rates over the prior year’s results. This year, more than half of the state’s law schools saw a decline in their pass rates, and in some cases, epically so. The state’s pass rate for first-time takers dropped a whole percentage point, due in part to the law schools’ reversal in fortune.

So which law schools’ pass rates tumbled, and by how much?

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I’d like this story a lot better if it was about an associate busted for using a fake disability to get extra time, instead of just about an associate getting busted for not actually having whatever BS affliction the kids are using these days. But I guess this is a start.

A Hastings Law graduate and former summer associate at Morrison & Foerster was nailed for faking an unnamed disability to get more time on the California bar exam.

In related news, I’ll now be marketing myself as a disability-faker detector. I have a simple methodology for determining fakers, and I’m not afraid to share it. My system is: if you can fake it so well that I can’t tell the difference, then it’s not a real disability that requires extra time in the first place!

I’ll be coming to a bar testing center near you to show my proven method in action…

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Yesterday, I reiterated the point that the third year of law school is largely useless. Such a position is not novel. Recently, NYU Law announced a big change to its 3L curriculum because, in part, the current use of the time is silly.

But even changes to the curriculum still contemplate making most students waste another year of tuition while they wait to take the bar and start their job search in earnest.

Out in Arizona (I’m still allowed to write about Arizona without having to prove my status, right?), some are pressuring the state supreme court to skip ahead and allow 3Ls to sit for the bar exam in February. They argue that the change will allow students to pass the bar before they graduate; that way they don’t have to wait until the fall to find out if they’ve passed the bar in a state where there aren’t a lot of jobs for students who have their bar passage “pending.”

Sounds like a great idea, so of course some people have a problem with it. You know, because then students will spend time caring about the bar during their third year, instead of reading Above the Law in class…

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