I did it. I survived taking the Michigan bar exam! I made it through hours of testing and stress that will probably stay with me for years to come. So I know what you are thinking: now what? You finally make it through one of the worst times in your life and now you are just stuck waiting around for results? Unfortunately, this is the reality of the road to becoming an attorney. Some people have jobs lined up that won’t start until they have official bar exam passage. Others are still looking for jobs for when they become attorneys. There are also people who take the time after the bar exam to relax and go on a post-bar vacation. I, on the other hand, went right back to work following the bar exam. This is my story of transitioning back to office life after taking the bar exam.
I have been working at the same law firm since I was in my first year of law school. In my 3L year, I was offered a position as an attorney (contingent on passing the bar of course). Since I am a first generation college student and have been putting myself through school, I unfortunately felt like it was important that I work some of the time during bar prep period while many of my colleagues spent their time solely studying. Fortunately, I was able to work part-time in June and take all of July off to focus on preparing for the bar. And after I took the bar at the end of July, I returned back to work the following Monday! So for me, the transition wasn’t as crazy since I didn’t have that much of a gap of unemployment, and I was returning to the employer I have known for the last few years. However, I did have to change my mindset from studying everyday nonstop to working full-time, and I did notice some changes.
Not a Girl (Law Student), Not Yet a Woman (Lawyer)
The dreaded waiting period… The time between taking the bar exam and getting results has been one of the hardest times of my life. I know it will be a few months between taking the exam and getting results, but this feels like years! I feel almost like my life is on hold. Will I have to suffer through studying and taking the bar exam again? Will I finally be able to fully be free and actually be able to become a full-fledged attorney? These are the questions I ask myself daily. Although I am in this weird phase of my career, I am still able to work hard and continue to grow as a professional while I am waiting for these results!
Everything is Different
The major change I am experiencing is that I feel alive again. Although I still have anxiety about the test results, I feel like a huge weight has lifted from my shoulders. I mean, I SURVIVED THE BAR EXAM! And now, instead of splitting my time between school or studying on top of work, I am now solely focused on work (and social/personal time as well). However, now that I have taken the bar exam, more seems to be expected of me. I am not just some kid in law school anymore. I have graduated law school, I have taken the bar exam, and I will (hopefully) soon be a lawyer. So, with new changes come new responsibilities, and I am so excited to continue to learn and grow in my profession.
Yet Everything is the Same?
Although I am on the other side of the bar exam, I feel like things are business as usual. I am doing similar tasks that I did before I took the bar exam, working in the same office, and largely working with the same clients. Part of this is probably because I am a hard worker and was given a lot of responsibility that other clerks/paralegals may not have had. However, it is also because I am still not a licensed attorney yet and cannot have clients of my own. But I know this is a stepping stone and hopefully everything will change soon.
Next Stop – Attorney Life?
At the end of this purgatory, there are two potential outcomes for me: I didn’t pass and have to take the bar exam again or I did pass and I can get sworn in as an attorney! Nevertheless, I will become an attorney and accomplish my life-long dream. I have been in school since I was 3 years old and have been pushing to be an attorney since I was in the 6th grade. I am so excited to actually be able to work full-time, have a normal schedule and not have to worry about homework when I get home. My journey is not over yet, and I know I have so much more to learn. However, I am excited about the start of the next chapter of my life. So if you are reading this and are in the midst of all the craziness that is the bar exam and bar prep, know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Although you will initially have to wait for your results and may feel stress and dread (I feel you), being on the other side of the bar exam is a whole other world! I know things can seem dark and miserable, but you will push through and you will accomplish your dreams, just like me. Now go out there and do it!