There are plenty of reasons to not enjoy (or even dread) bar prep. You likely already have a list of these reasons, and your list is probably longer than five. But there are more than a few good reasons to stay motivated. Although it is tempting to be negative during bar prep, try to focus on the positives. Maintaining a healthy, positive mindset during bar prep can directly impact your effectiveness and your anxiety levels. When the hours get long, the material gets dry, and the stress gets overwhelming, keep these five reasons to embrace bar prep in mind and stay in the fight!
1. Unique Opportunity For Learning
On exam day, you will likely know more about the law in your jurisdiction, across all areas of the law, than you will for the rest of your life. Your months of preparation are a once in a lifetime opportunity to absorb and learn about the law in an abstract and comprehensive way. While most of your time will be spent hammering out black-letter law and developing strategies, take a minute occasionally to ponder the larger questions of law and justice from your unique vantage point. Think about how all the law you are learning has developed statute by statute and case by case. Think about interconnections of the law you are learning and the policies that underlie the legal system. This may come easier to the political science majors and legal-theory enthusiasts out there, but take some time to consider the majesty of the law. It can be inspiring.
2. You Never Know Where Your Career Will Lead
On a practical note, you never know where your legal career might lead. That subject that is such a grind during bar prep may end up being the type of law you are asked to take on at some point. If you are still looking for a job post-bar, think of bar prep as interview prep. Diversifying the areas of the law you are confident in can also help you to expand your job search if the job market is tight. Even if you are one of the lucky few with a job waiting for you after the bar, life and legal careers are full of surprises.Whether for personal or professional reasons, careers can take unexpected twists. Study each subject as if your legal career depends upon it because some day it might! Thinking of your bar prep as a career investment could bring just a little bit more meaning to that next round of practice essays.
3. Collegiality (And Networking Confidence)
Bar prep will not make you an expert in any particular legal field, but it can certainly make you conversant in just about all the law your jurisdiction has to offer. The confidence you gain from knowing you know some things can be just the edge you need to successful build your post-law school legal network. For example, even if you have no interest in criminal law, if you put in the effort during bar prep, you can at least carry a conversation with the prosecutor you meet at the next young lawyer happy hour. The legal profession prides itself on its collegiality, so take advantage of your bar prep time to educate yourself. By studying hard, you will be able to talk shop with any lawyer in your state and that can be invaluable.
4. Practical Life Knowledge
Assuming you intend to live where you take the bar, learning the basics of the law in your jurisdiction offers plenty of practical benefits. Lawyering aside, knowledge of the law is a handy thing. How does your state handle marital property? What kind of rights will you have as an employee in your state? Does your jurisdiction follow the “mailbox rule”? Consider how the laws you are learning affect you and how they would apply to those you know. As a soon-to-be-minted lawyer, your friends and family will expect you to know these answers soon anyway.
5. Get Your Bar Card
This is the most obvious of the five, but one to remember. This is the final hurdle in the long line of hurdles that have stood between you and the start of your rewarding legal career. Consider the hard work you have already put in to get to this point. Remember every all-nighter you have pulled from undergrad through law school graduation. Think about how much you have learned since your first day as a 1L (and all the exams on which you had to prove it). Your grit has been tested before. Take on the challenge to pass the bar with the confidence of someone who has already taken on a fair number of challenges. As Bar Exam Toolbox co-founder, Alison Monahan advises – just decide you’re going to pass. Once you’ve set your mind to it, bear down, push through, and clear that last hurdle.