There’s no question that life in the immediate aftermath of the bar exam is exponentially better than life before the bar exam, but unfortunately, you’ve still got to endure the months-long wait for your results, which is its own special kind of torture. Hopefully you’ve taken a post-bar trip or spent some time relaxing in the last few weeks, but what else do you do with yourself until that fateful day arrives? While it will depend in part on what your individual circumstances are, below are a few suggestions.
Get to Work
If you’ve already got a post-graduate job locked down and have the option to start now, throwing yourself into work may help the days and months to pass a little more quickly. There is a steep learning curve for new attorneys, and with so much to learn your brain should be preoccupied for the better part of each day. Also, using this time to make a good impression could certainly help in the event that you don’t pass the first time around and want your employer to give you a chance to retake the exam in February.
Or Look for Work
If you’re still looking for a job, that should be your primary focus right now (as if you need someone to tell you that). All of the advice in this post about maintaining your job search while studying for the bar exam still applies, but you can really ratchet things up a notch. Make sure all of your application materials are up-to-date and reflect the fact that you just sat for the bar exam. Now is a good time to update your LinkedIn profile as well; consider including something that alerts people to the fact that you’re seeking job. I’ve seen some recent graduates post an update regarding what type of opportunity they’re looking for (using hashtags to garner more attention), while others have used their headline for this purpose. Informational interviews can be a great tool to employ during this time as well. Finally, be sure to engage your law school Career Services Office, as they’ll be able to provide additional guidance that is tailored to your specific situation.
Volunteering with a legal non-profit or government organization can be a particularly good idea if you’re still in the job market, as it allows you to start gaining experience and to make new connections in the legal world. It will provide a welcome reprieve from searching and applying for jobs all day, and can be just as effective in helping you to land one. Assuming you do good work, being a known quantity can quickly move your name to the top of the candidate list should an opening arise while you’re volunteering there. Even if you don’t see a future for yourself at the organization where you’re volunteering, the dedication it shows to the development of legal skills will likely make you a stronger candidate for other opportunities.
If you’re already working full-time, volunteering can still be a wonderful way to give back to the community and keep your mind off of bar results during some of your off-hours. It doesn’t necessarily have to be something legal in nature, and, truthfully, may be more enjoyable if it’s not. If you’re passionate about animals, volunteer with the humane society or consider fostering an animal through a local rescue organization. If you like kids, apply to become a Big Brother or Big Sister. Volunteering can help you feel more connected to your community and lead to new friendships if you’ve recently relocated for your job.
Pick Up a New (or Old) Hobby
I know it’s difficult, but try to think back to before law school when you had free time and the ability to do things that you enjoyed. Take advantage of the fact that you finally have time again to rediscover some of the pastimes you loved before your life became consumed by the law, or embark on a new adventure. Join a book club (or just read some books for pleasure). Get a pet. Take a cooking class. Spend more time with your family (and maybe then realize they were better in small doses). Train for a half-marathon. Let’s face it, nothing is going to be able to put your bar results completely out of mind, but at least you can be doing something that makes you happy while you’re worrying about whether you passed.
Hope for the best; prepare yourself mentally for the worst. Surely, you’ve seen the lists of famous individuals who failed the bar exam on their first attempt and went on to great success. If you don’t pass this time around, there is a wide range of emotions you may experience, but hopelessness should not be one of them. Remind yourself that a bar failure is a temporary setback, not something that’s fatal to your career . . . but don’t dwell too much on the “what ifs” at this point.