Bar exam

Many repeat takers come to us asking what they can do? They tell us they took their commercial course, followed the schedule, watched all the videos, and did all the work. How could they have failed?

The first issue is that we do not always know what we do not know. We can guess to what our issues are that we are aware of, but what about issues we are not aware of?

And, of course, then comes the advice – sometimes unsolicited – from everyone you know. From your boss, who took the bar 47 years ago, to your Aunt Suzie, who is not a lawyer but “knows a lot of lawyers”. Maybe it is your parents, who don’t understand because you are “so smart and always have been”. Do you “just need to study more” or “maybe break up with your girlfriend/boyfriend”? How about “take some brain vitamins” or, maybe, “sue the bar examiners”.

Finally, your boss, Aunt Suzie and your parents try to tell you reasons as to why they think you failed: you were stressed, you knew too much, you knew too little, you didn’t do 400 essay questions a day, you ate something bad the night before, you saw a black cat. In my family it is doing anything important on a Tuesday – we are supposed to avoid it all costs – “can you just write the bar examiners and tell them that we don’t do things on Tuesdays and can you please arrange another day?”

Fun, huh? Yeah, not even a little. People care about us, but those same people can stress us out even more. And if we don’t necessarily know why we failed, how are they going to know?

Here is the thing. Think about people/classmates/mentors/professionals whose advice you generally trust. Ask a few of those people and be honest with them about everything surrounding your bar exam preparation, even external factors such as eating that bad piece of cake the night before the bar (but really, can cake ever be bad?).

See if their advice resonates/makes sense to you. Also, keep in mind their experience preparing for the bar exam, their knowledge of you, and their experience in mentoring/advising other students in similarly situated positions as you. These can be an academic advisor, bar prep instructor, associates at your firm, other repeat takers who were eventually successful, or professionals in the industry. And by professionals in the industry, remember, we all think our program is the best.

DO talk to a person or company who encourages you to do something different and encourages you to seek out what that difference should be. You need to make sure that they take the time to listen to you, ask you thoughtful questions, and don’t give you the generic “you need to take our course for $10,000 because it’s awesome, and we are the best for everyone” canned statement. You will know because you will get a feeling about the person you talk to.

Tania Shah
President, LawTutors, LLC