Thank goodness, you have completed the current bar exam! What should you do now?
DON’T ASSUME you did not pass the bar exam because you could not answer one or more questions.
When I took the California bar, a Wills and Trusts question showed up on one of the essay exams. I had not taken a Wills and Trusts course in law school because the law school I was attending did not offer a Wills and Trusts course during the time I was enrolled there. Even worse, Wills and Trusts was the last subject area covered in the Bar Review course, and by that time my head was so overstuffed with black letter law that I really could not absorb much about Wills and Trusts. I spotted only one Wills and Trusts issue on the bar’s Wills and Trusts essay question. I also spotted a teeny, tiny Real Property issue on which I wrote extensively, much more than that particular issue deserved. I walked out of the final day of the bar exam convinced I had flunked because I could not give a complete answer, or really much of an answer at all, to the Wills and Trust question.
November came and the bar exam results were released right before Thanksgiving. “I’m not going to look at the results until after Thanksgiving because I want to enjoy the holiday with my family,” I thought. Sunday evening of Thanksgiving weekend with great trepidation I peeked at my bar results. To my great shock and relief, I had passed! I could have saved myself a lot of angst, worry, depression and fear if I had refrained from assuming that I had failed the bar exam.
Moral of the Story: The best thing that you can do once you have finished taking the bar exam is to refrain from making assumptions or obsessing about whether you passed the bar or not. Instead, concentrate on the three “Dos” below.
Preparing for and taking any bar exam is physically, mentally and emotionally exhausting. You need to take time and do things that will help you recover.
Number one: sleep. Number two: take a nap. Number three: sleep. Many bar candidates skimp on sleep trying to cram in as much preparation as possible before the actual bar. Give your body time to recover. Sunbathe at the beach, or nap in a hammock.
Number four: Resume healthy regular eating habits. While studying for the bar, you may have developed serious fast food deep fried unhealthy as possible eating habits. Now is the time to reform. Start incorporating more healthy food into your diet: vegetables, fruits, whole grains, etc. Toss the energy in a can or bottle drinks, and consider how much coffee you are drinking.
Number five: Rest your mind. Some form of meditation is best for this type of recovery. Check out transcendental meditation, mindfulness meditation, yoga, or gazing at a fire or the waves at the beach for a long time without thinking about anything or having any goals.
Number six: Reconnect with family and friends. Often when someone takes the bar, their spouse, significant other, kids and close friends take the bar also, in the sense that they lose touch with the bar candidate because that person is so intensely involved in studying for the bar. Now is the time to take the initiative and approach these people, tell them how much they mean to you, and spend time with them.
Once you are rested, eating well, and have reconnected with friends and family, it’s time to play! Want to travel to Africa? Backpack through a national park? Restore an old car? Attend the playoffs or finals of some major sporting event? Go to concerts or museums? Create a work of art? Binge watch your favorite TV series? This is the time to do it. You have several months before bar exam results come out, and once you start working, you most likely will not be able to take several months at a time off. Seize this opportunity to spend a couple of months doing something just for the fun of it. No goals allowed.
If you have the opportunity to start working, take as much time off as you can before you start working. I started working two months after the bar exam and in retrospect, I regret that I started working so soon after the bar instead of playing more. Most of my colleagues took three or four months off and traveled and they were much more rested and enthusiastic when they came back to work.
Once you have had sufficient time off, you can prepare your next steps.
If you have a job, you will need to buy some professional clothes to wear to work. Even in casual workplaces, flip flops, shorts and an ancient T-shirt with holes in it will probably not be acceptable. Law firms and corporate legal departments tend to be slow adopters in the casual dress area. Err on the conservative side and be overdressed rather than underdressed.
If you do not have a job, don’t go job hunt alone! Arrange for someone to coach and support you while you are looking for a job. This could be a career counselor from your law school, a job hunting group in your community, or a professional career counselor.
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Did you find this post helpful? Check out some other great articles:
- Waiting for Bar Results? How to Keep the Bar in Perspective
- 5 Things I Did Differently The Second Time to Pass the Bar Exam
- 5 Things To Do While Waiting for Bar Exam Results
- How Can Parents Help Their Student Who Failed the Bar
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