We have all sought advice from time to time especially in law school. The bar exam can be somewhat of uncharted territory. When you feel directionless and even desperate, you might ask anyone who will listen for help. For example, you may be seeking support for the following:
- Creating a study schedule
- Developing an outline
- MBE question approach
- MEE preparation
- MPT strategies
Asking around for recommendations and tips on these topics can be beneficial. Hearing and seeing how someone organizes their day to study, and juggle work can really inspire your own schedule. Harvard Business Review has examined the issue of taking advice from others and points out that when we receive help from the “right people and in the right ways” it can lead to:
- Smart solutions
- Critical thinking
- Improved decision making
Consider the Source of Advice
Consider who you are asking. The advice we receive from others can be especially helpful when guidance comes from wisdom and experience. A bar taker who has been through the process can provide helpful insight.
While asking questions on an anonymous social media platform may seem the way to go in the moment, especially when you need immediate connection and support from an online community, the key is to take someone’s advice with a grain of salt. You need to make sure your decisions work best for you. Even if you feel like you don’t know where to go next with your concern, empower yourself knowing that only you know what is in your best interests. You have had law school and a life before it to try what works for you, including your own learning style and study approach. Only you know your own strengths, challenges, and life circumstances. Keep these considerations mind that when you receive advice, it is based on someone else’s experience and unique set of circumstances.
One common example is advice regarding bar prep resources. If you ask around, most bar takers have a strong opinion in favor of certain resources and bar exam provider companies or tutors. Keep in mind that the bar provider’s approach may work really well for one bar passer and poorly for another simply because learning styles and preferences are different. The key is to know yourself and what you are looking for in a provider and seek that out.
Family and Loved ones
Receiving unwarranted bar advice from loved ones who don’t quite get what you are going through can be frustrating. Consider that they may be trying their best to help, but don’t know how to support you. Having a talk with them about the exam, and what would be helpful is a great start so you can avoid that additional stress.
Be Cautious of Shortcuts
Shortcuts do not usually work. Often times we are in a time crunch and are looking to make bar prep easier. For example, obtaining someone’s specific study schedule or the bar passer’s outline to pass. While this information may seem like a lifeline, you may not realize that these approaches were a result of refining a process over time that is designed for the person who gave it to you. While you may have someone’s passing outline, you are really only receiving a cut down version that is missing the intensive commitment to process complex information in a meaningful way.
The best advice I heard in law school was from my criminal law professor. He advised students to always go to the source of the information or “hear it from the horse’s mouth.” In other words, if you need advice or quick answers you may spend more time regretting listening to the world instead of verifying the information for yourself. People are certainly not perfect, and they may be confused and unintentionally give you the wrong information. Especially when it comes to critical exam information such as deadlines, and new policies—get it from the bar examiners website for your state and call if you need to. You won’t ever regret getting information for yourself and on your own. This is also helpful information in practice and is a standard that your own client would hold you to when you are a practicing attorney.
You have more answers and wisdom and intuition than you think. Recognize if you are in a panic, just need reassurance for something you know you need, or really are lost. Narrow down your question to one that is specific, inform the person you’re asking to consider certain information that is important to the situation, and then take the advice with a grain of salt. Remember that you have a choice in whether you take the advice or not. Consider a trusted mentor or developing a mentorship relationship with a legal professional.
Good advice encourages you to find out what works best for you and takes into consideration why the advice worked for the person providing it, and why it may or may not help you.
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