While you are preparing for the bar exam, it can be difficult for many people to understand what you are going through unless they have experienced it firsthand or know someone who has, such as your family members.
Movies and series that portray exam takers may or may not get some things right. The person that would best be able to assess how the exam is portrayed on the screen and how it compares to real life is you! Even if it way off, you may end up getting a good laugh anyway and some much-needed motivation to keep studying!
You are likely familiar with this law school classic and probably expected it to be on this list! While Elle Woods did not take us through her bar exam experience, we can guess how she handled it based on her legendary quote, “What? Like it’s hard?” Additionally, we saw how Elle Woods prepared for the LSAT—she stuck to a rigorous study schedule at the library, leaned on friends to grade her work, and made time for her well-being and exercise. Her diligence paid off when she scored high enough to apply to Harvard Law and get in! If the bar exam was covered in this movie, Elle likely would have transferred her optimistic and go-getter approach to the exam.
We all hit road bumps during bar prep, and Elle would be no exception. However, we have insight into how she would handle challenges. If Elle Woods ever lost her momentum, she would likely refer to her famous commencement speech quote, “[…] most importantly, you must always have faith in yourself.” In Legally Blonde 2, it is clear how this can-do attitude lands her a BigLaw job, and the Elle we know and love stays true to herself and fights to safeguard animal rights while overcoming fears in the process.
Law School is a popular Korean law school drama that is on Netflix. It is remarkable how a Korean Hankuk University Law school experience has so many parallels to the typical law school experience in the U.S. For example, tough law professors, the competitive nature of law school and students stressing over grades. The director of the copy center, Sung Dongs II is a source of support for the students—feeding them snacks and giving them space to study. He shares his law school and exam experiences, including the exam to become a lawyer which he took multiple times. He encourages the students to stay true to their goal even though it does not come easy! You will likely appreciate the references and journeys of law students, and especially relate to their experience preparing for a critical exam that will allow you to practice.
A Lawyer Walks into a Bar
This independent film follows the experiences of students trying to pass the California bar exam and retaking it without letting failure define them. It is important to keep in mind that the exam and landscape has changed since the film was made in 2007. Despite those changes, you may find the film motivating, as the film highlights the journeys of go-getters who refuse to give up on their dreams. Focusing on achieving your dreams is a very real and accurate side to staying motivated during bar studies so that you can make it to the other side.
This is a 1993 film that portrays the BigLaw culture, including how it views bar exam passage expectations from the firm side. In one notable scene, a series of attorneys drop bar exam prep materials on the desk of an incoming associate (Tom Cruise). They famously all say “no associate has ever failed the bar exam before” which can be intimidating!
While it may be true that some firms continue to operate this way, it is common for firms including BigLaw firms to be supportive of associates who have failed the exam, and to extend a certain number of attempts. If you are a repeat-taker, it is important to have an outpouring of support from your community of mentors, supervisors, and colleagues! If support is not being served – remember that you can also decide what is the right environment for you too, and it make not be your current one!
While these movies and shows can be really entertaining, there is no comparison to the role you are starring in right now in your own bar exam story. You control how your story goes, where and when you decide to take the exam, and the effort you put in daily to reach your goals. Empower yourself knowing you are behind the wheel and that you have what it takes!