Whew…. That was tough! In the midst of a global pandemic, wildfires, and political upheaval, you managed to study for and complete the bar exam. Not only that, you did it online. Congratulations! It’s over!
I’ve written about what you should do while waiting for bar results before, but this year is a bit different. If you’re wondering how to regroup and how to spend your time, here are some ideas to try out:
1. Practice self-care
First and foremost, you have to take care of yourself. The last few months may have been a blur—and not a very positive one—so check in mentally and see if there’s anything you’ve been lacking.
Perhaps you could:
- Start a physical activity routine, even if it’s just stretching or walking every day
- Prioritize adequate nutrition and water intake
- Make sure you’re getting enough sleep
- Do stuff that makes you happy!
- Consider doing some mindfulness exercises
- Practice gratitude
- Read a book just for fun
- Get lost in a new creative or artistic project
- Listen to music
- Eat your favorite foods
- Find something that makes you laugh
- Organize your room
2. Reconnect with your former life and self
You know those wonderful, funny, delightful people you used to know? They’re called your friends. Did you forget about them while preparing for the bar? Now that the exam is over, reach out and reconnect with anyone you left behind while studying.
Set up a video call with family or buddies from college. Do a virtual happy hour or picnic. Watch a movie together. This might sound a little crazy, but if you hit play at the same time on your laptop and leave your phones on speaker, it’s almost like being together. Plus, you don’t have to share your popcorn! However you decide to regenerate your social life, make sure the people you love know that you’re back and life is good again.
3. Deal with uncertainty
If you’re like me, taking the bar is not actually the hardest part—it’s the gut-wrenching, slow burn of anxiety that follows as you wait for results. Is there anything you can do to ensure a passing score now that the exam is over? Nope. Not a thing. So, forget about it to the extent possible.
Don’t let wondering sap the time and energy you have. Results will take months, and stewing about them is just going to make you feel bad, so stop worrying. Go do something useful instead.
4. Prepare for an upcoming job search
You’re not sure if you will pass, but it can’t hurt to have a few job applications in the works while you wait. Even if it’s too early to actually apply for any positions, you can start the process by bookmarking your favorite job search sites and making sure things like your resume/C.V. and references are updated. While you’re at it, maybe peruse advice about nailing interviews, writing a winning cover letter, or dressing for success, or go get a career counselor.
5. Volunteer your time
Depending on the level of Coronavirus quarantine/shut down in your area, you may be able to do some in-person volunteer work. If that’s not possible, there are always online options available. For example, when I was waiting for my bar results, I volunteered with an NGO to edit the website of a non-profit children’s school in India. Since it was online work, it was possible to do everything remotely. I also volunteered assistant-teaching kindergarten for a few hours each day at a school down the street. This one had to be in person, but you get the idea. There are options out there.
What is your skill set? What are you interested in? It doesn’t have to be related to the practice of law. In fact, it might be more enjoyable if it’s not! Then again, if law or politics are your thing, why don’t you figure out what pressing issues you’re most passionate about and put your time to good use. Reach out to your representatives or get started calling up swing state voters. It is an election year, after all. A friend and I did this together during a presidential election while in law school and believe it or not, it was actually really fun!
6. Consider studying again
Normally, I do not recommend studying while waiting for bar results. Unless you walked out of the exam while it was in session or are 90% certain you failed, you shouldn’t waste the time. That’s what I would tell you after a normal bar season, anyway. Was this year normal, though? No, not even a little bit.
The problem is that results from the online exam will likely take even longer than usual. At least, that’s what we’re anticipating. If you do end up failing, you may not have much time to study before the next exam. While you shouldn’t study purely out of anxiety or second-guessing yourself, if you are fairly certain you did not pass, you might as well spend some time keeping your black letter law fresh and doing some practice here and there. That said, you absolutely need to take a break first! Let yourself rest and recover before diving into any more studying.