Bar takers: you can do it!
Posted on July 23rd, 2012
Note: this is a post I wrote last year for the July bar exam. It still holds. I bet it’ll still hold in 20 years.
Lawyers elicit contempt. This may shock you non-lawyers, but we know this. We heard all the jokes before we’d finished our first
year week of law school.
And still, we chose the law. We put ourselves on a ridiculous treadmill of graduate school education and licensing, all to practice a profession the rest of the world loves to mock.
How ridiculous? This week, thousands of people will flock to dive hotels to sit for the July bar exam, bringing their belongings — including tampons, for those unlucky women — in clear plastic baggies.
And oh, the bar exam is an absurdity by itself. Much of it is based on law that is no longer law. Yes, that’s right. Thousands of people have just memorized rules that aren’t rules anywhere and cases that won’t support any modern legal argument, and will promptly have to dump that information from their brains. That’s how silly it is.
It’s as silly as the way law school exams are constructed and graded. It’s as silly as seating charts and lockers for adults in law school classes. It’s as silly as teaching the cases that are no longer the law in the hope (I am guessing here) that it helps make what is the law clearer (although often you will find yourself guessing what the law actually is). It’s as silly as badly implemented Socratic questioning. It’s as silly as basing entrance to law school on multiple choice logic games on a standardized test. It’s as silly as $30K+ per year of tuition, as silly as going into heaps of debt, just to be lucky to land a $40K per year job on exiting.
And so we go through all of this, we sit for the damn bar exam with our tampons in plastic baggies in front of us,* and somehow we pass (and yes, you reading this: you will pass and you will be fine and remember “minimal competency” and really, really: you will be fine!).
And we are sworn in. We pay our pro-rated bar dues. And we look around and realize that holy crap, after all that, no one ever taught us anything about the law, not really. Or how to be a lawyer.
That is when our legal education really starts, when it really gets good. And it is a lot less silly from that point forward. We will do good things, we will screw things up, we will help people, and sometimes we hurt people. But we practice law. And it is incredible.
For the vast majority of the bar takers, you’re almost there. One last silly hurdle. You’ll make it. It’ll be fine.
(But the lawyer jokes? Learn to laugh at them, because they’ll never stop. Also, remember that the douchebag who laughs at the punchline “a good start” will be speed-dialing you when he gets busted for DUI.)
*My state was somewhat nicer. No baggies, but belongings along the wall, and I could bring my Smart Water and chocolate-covered ginger.