Esquired.

Bar results came out yesterday and I PASSED!

it's a celebration

Because you can’t be excited without referencing Dave Chappelle as Rick James.

Hugely relieved. Results weren’t due out until today, and I actually went to the website just to see what time they’d be dropping and saw the link. I scrolled down the list in slow motion and there my name was! Texas actually gives you your score and I actually passed by a comfortable margin, which was a nice ego boost. Husband and I went out for dinner at Cheesecake Factory to celebrate. Still in a state of disbelief- I’ve been dreaming of this day for so long and it finally happened. I’m a lawyer. Of course, my friends and family never doubted me. I was 75% sure I had passed, but it’s such a grueling exam and I had to learn new law since I was coming from out of state. Plus, this was a hard bar year- passage rates were down a full 10% from last year! Oh well. This news has made my month. I’m out of J.D. limbo and I feel like I finally have some job options. I’m a lawyer, y’all!

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The bar exam

It’s finally over.

Actually, it was over a week ago but I’m just now getting to the point where I’m no longer too exhausted to talk about it. I studied hard, did my best, and prayed. A lot. I’m still praying for favor over my exam since it has to be graded and I won’t get the results until November. Jesus keep me near the cross and the curve! Meanwhile, here’s a snapshot of my experience.

 

Bar prep isn’t fun, but it doesn’t start out completely horrible. You can focus because the fear of failure is like your very own Strict Asian Dad, goading you into reading outlines when you’d rather be using the internet.

 

facebook study

 

After the first two weeks, I realized that the bar exam is creeping closer and maybe I didn’t remember as much from 1L year as I thought I did. My anxiety levels were starting to rise, but it wasn’t completely out of control.

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A month out, the daily grind of waking up and studying all day was starting to wear on me. It was like reliving all the worst parts of law school without any of the breaks or socializing.

 

bar studying

 

 

At two weeks before the test it’s probably time for a nervous breakdown if you haven’t already had one. I didn’t shed any tears, but I did spend a whole day feeling sick and gave my husband the silent treatment when he dared suggest that the multiple choice portion of the bar exam couldn’t be any worse than the SAT.

are you serious

 

 

In the final week before the test, I alternated between complete apathy and utter despair.

not sure

eff this

 

The day before I took care of all the logistical details. including buying 2.5 gallon Ziploc bags to carry my laptop(!) in since apparently the Board of Law Examiners is worse than TSA. I was a little keyed up but managed to get a good night’s rest. Day 1 was a half day for the procedure & evidence short answer and the practical essay, which  I felt very well prepared for. Most of the questions coincided with my review so I was pretty confident at the end of the day.

 

tim-gunn-make-it-work

 

Day 2 was the MBE, which should stand for Most Blatant Evil. This was the multiple choice test that made me understand why so many people HATE multiple choice tests. Even the practice tests were hard. They’re super tricky even when you KNOW the law. And unlike the SAT, each question is its own separate fact pattern. And said fact pattern is sometimes so long that one question just about takes up an entire page. Although I made significant progress during bar prep, I honestly have no clue how I did. I couldn’t do anything but go home and hit a dramatic wall slide.

Wallslide-Cartoon

 

 

Day 3 was the state essays. Written tests are my forte because you can fudge your way through and still get points. It’s the old W.C. Fields strategy- “If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bull.” To put it in bar exam terms, make up a rule, throw in a dash of public policy and move on.

 

Razzle dazzle

Of course, 6 hours of feverish typing and thinking on the fly had me feeling like I was putting on a show.

mad men tapdance

The hardest part was managing my anxiety. I was so ready to be done that my nerves were shot and every little thing was irritating me. I had to call my husband and a law school friend on lunch break because my fellow bar takers were giving me homicidal urges. There’s always a few people who who take “dress for success” to an extreme conclusion and show up in a silk dress and pumps, or suit and tie. Then there are those who are either a) completely unbothered and feel the need to smugly announce how well they did; or b) completely freaking out. Either way, people from one or both camps will inevitably be sitting next to you or walking towards the exit with you on lunch break and making you want to punch them in the face.

stayoverthere

 

Finally, the test was over for real for real, and I had my life back. Or so I thought, since the bar examiner proceeded to keep us for another 30 minutes while the proctors painstakingly collected tests, counted tests, made us backup our tests to USB, etc. All very necessary things, but I didn’t want anything more than to be out of that room!

 
let my people go

 

And then it was done. I survived the bar exam! Let’s all pray that come November I’ll be Wifey, Esq.

 

Boldly Myself

Being your own person can be liberating and scary at the same time. The scary part is the lingering doubts. What happens if you don’t conform, take the safe route, do what’s expected? But that still pales in comparison to owning who you are and what you want. I realize that I’ve spent a lot of my life tip toeing around, trying not to make a fuss, and giving people what I thought they wanted while internally freaking out. I know now that a few things would have turned out differently if I had stood my ground and been more assertive from the start. But everything is a lesson, right?

I’m learning even more as President of my law school’s BLSA chapter. I took the position not just because I needed the resume boost, but because I knew I usually avoid visible leadership positions and I would learn a lot. Lately there have been some murmurings about a few folks finding me unapproachable and “hostile”. A couple years ago I would have either a) bent over backwards trying to seem friendlier and lost sleep over it; or b) dug in my heels and acted purposely ornery (as a Capricorn, I tend toward the ornery). This time? I did a gut check with my friends and laughed it off. You can’t please everybody, and I make a very conscious effort to be personable despite my desire to spend most of my time alone. Some folks are just over sensitive and I don’t have to internalize their issues. Their problem does not have to become my problem. How freeing is that?

My 3L year is also the test of me breaking away from the law school crowd, for real for real. There are networking events left and right but I’m holding myself above the frenzy. I choose very selectively where I do and don’t go based on who I want to meet, what I need to do, what I want to do, and how I feel. Tomorrow there is an alumni cocktail mixer but I won’t make it because I don’t want to use another skip day in class to beat the traffic and also–I just don’t feel up to it. It’s been a very busy, trying week for me so I know I don’t have the energy to “sparkle” in a room filled with 100+ people. However, next week I am volunteering at a community law clinic hosted by someone who has had a very nontraditional career path and also happens to be a graduate of my undergrad alma mater. I’m hoping to cultivate her as a mentor and I know that in that smaller setting, we’ll have a chance for productive conversation.

So, I’m being very deliberate and trusting that God will put the right opportunities and people in my path. Every event I’ve gone to where I made real connections, I was either more excited than nervous or I just had a feeling that I needed to get over my reluctance. I’m not getting that feeling about the event tomorrow so I don’t feel bad about not going. You know what else I don’t feel bad about? Taking the February 2014 bar exam. I’m so sick to death of law school and everything related to it. I just don’t see myself settling in for 6 weeks of law school on steroids a week after graduation. My mind is totally on getting married and finding a non-law job and I don’t do anything half-assed if I don’t absolutely have to. A 6 month delay won’t mean anything in the long run.

This right here is MY life and I won’t live anyone else’s.