Below, please find a blog entry penned by an aspiring California attorney and employee at Simas & Associates, Ltd. This individual took the July 2016 California Bar Exam and is awaiting results. Results are due to be announced on November 18, 2016.
It takes a special kind of person to get through law school. The process is nothing if not arduous, defeating, and gratifying. A favorite boss told me while I was in the application stage: “law school is full of freaks.” Having gone to law school himself, he didn’t mean that it is full of freaky people. What he meant was that the only people who choose to go to law school are people who have a perverse desire to subject themselves to years of tedium, overbreadth, and heart ache, only to follow that with a life of argument and conflict. Having it all behind me I can say he was right: I am a freak, and proud of it!
Following law school, those of us who want to practice law must take the bar exam. I took the July 2016 California Bar Exam and am currently waiting for results. The exam is in late July and results are released nearly four months later, just in time for Thanksgiving.
Getting ready for this three-day, eighteen hour, hellish exam requires at least eight weeks of studying day and night.
All-the-while managing feelings of inadequacy, confusion, unpreparedness, and certainly dread. Studying for the bar is isolating and frustrating. As I like to say, it’s a nightmare.
It’s a nightmare a person has to sacrifice years of their life to get the privilege to endure, but a nightmare none-the-less. I have to remind myself often that it truly is a privilege to be in my situation, as I wait for bar results. I know this is a place not every person has the opportunity, or the honor, of achieving.
While waiting for results I’m riddled with anxiety, relieved that I don’t have to study every single day, and doing my best to pretend to be normal. I can’t help wondering if I will finally get to be the attorney I have always dreamed of, or if I will be faced with taking the bar again. The thought of eight more weeks of studying, three more days of testing, and eleven more weeks of waiting for results, is depressing.
It’s impossible not to think back and try to remember every word I wrote, hoping I said something brilliant, beating myself up for not seeing an issue in time to write it down, and wracking my brain for forgotten tidbits that would put my mind at ease that I passed. But it’s pointless, there is literally no way to know how I did.
I think about the graders and all the stories we are told in law school. About how they are attorneys who sit at home with a stack of essays, after a full day of work, drinking a glass of wine and spending three to five minutes grading an essay. An essay that took me months to learn how to write, an hour to actually write, and has a hand in determining my future. I wonder how many glasses of wine the grader might have had by the time they pick up my essay. I think about what the essay before mine might have said.
It’s also impossible not to think about the odds (which are not in my favor). California has experienced record breaking low pass rates on the exams administered in the last two years. Being in the top forty or fifty percent of the people taking a test doesn’t sound that difficult, until you realize this is not forty or fifty percent of the general population, this is forty to fifty percent of those freaks my boss warned me about! Scholars, scientists, graduates of Ivy League schools; people who had the luxury of hiring private tutors, or escaping to mountain retreats for ten weeks to study. Certainly all workaholics. How am I supposed to compete with these mythical creatures?
So what does one do during this excruciating wait? I personally chose to work. I wanted to stay current in the legal profession and have something in my life to remind me of why I put myself through all of this. Simas & Associates was generous enough to offer me a job, and I am very appreciative of the opportunity to learn a new area of law.
Now, all I can do is try to put the bar out of my mind. There is nothing I can do to change my performance, and no amount of wondering whether my test anxiety got the better of me will change the outcome. So I wait, I work, and I try to be thankful for the stress, because that stress means I have achieved much but also that I have much more to achieve.