Congratulations! The bar exam is done! You did the work, you paid your fees, and then you sat in a room with a bunch of nervous, sweaty, overworked people just like yourself and now it’s over. Great! But…wait, now what? Well, now you have wait with bated breath for your results and, believe me, waiting is the absolute worst. The bar exam was a challenge, but it’s over now.
So here’s your challenge now: relax.
You need to slow down, decompress, and focus on living a healthy, happy life. Even if you’re looking for work, you have to take some time to chill out and to get back to being the best you. Here are some ideas how.
Don’t Borrow Trouble
There’s a very, very long poem called the Rubaiyat, by Persian polymath Omar Khayyam and translated (extremely loosely) by English wordsmith Edward Fitzgerald, and it contains this gem:
“The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all they Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.”
Take those words to heart now. It’s easier said than done, but you need to put the exam out of your mind. It doesn’t matter how much you worry about it, you can’t go back and change any answers. Don’t spend your days agonizing about it, and don’t spend your nights hitting refresh over and over waiting for them to post your scores.
Trust me: The results will be ready when they are ready, and you can’t do anything about them now. Put the exam out of your mind.
Put Away Your Bar Exam Materials
The process of studying for the bar exam is a pretty awful experience; it’s long, it’s trying, and it’s usually pretty unhealthy. Now that the bar exam is behind you, focus on moving forward, being healthy, and being happy. To that end, put your bar exam materials away!
I don’t think you should burn your books in a ritual bonfire. But box ‘em up and put ‘em in a closet. If you studied entirely online, then make a special folder to put all the files in and hide it somewhere off of your desktop. Get all that stuff out of view—outta sight, outta mind.
Reconnect With People
Hopefully you followed our advice before you started studying, and you talked with the people in your life to manage expectations! But the bar exam is behind you, so now is the time for you to reach out and reconnect with people you might have lost touch with while studying.
Try not to bore your friends and family with incessant stories about how hard the bar exam was. Your friends and your family don’t care. They care about you, but they don’t care about the exam.
If you’re spending time with other people who took the bar exam, set a ground rule that there should be no talk of that exam. Don’t mention individual questions, don’t talk about how you studied, and don’t talk about whether you feel like you passed or not. Instead of talking about the exam, you should all consider getting a hobby.
See the World
For those who have time off after the bar, and who can afford it, the post-bar trip is probably the most common way to relax after the bar. If you like travelling, the post-bar trip gives you something to look forward to while you’re studying. If you’ve waited your whole life for an excuse for a big trip, this is it. Go to Europe! Go to China! Or walk across North America! Now is the time to do that big trip.
It doesn’t have to be 5-star luxury, and it doesn’t have to break the bank. You can stay on-budget and still have a great trip. There are hundreds and hundreds of fantastic, relaxing destinations here in the U.S., too. Or even, although I hate this word, take a staycation.
Now that the bar is over, you’ll have time, and you’ll have energy. If you want to keep that energy going, then maybe skip binging all 137,000 seasons of Law and Order and instead put the energy toward bettering yourself. Start learning a language, or study cooking French or South Asian cuisine, or take a woodworking class. Rediscover your passion for yoga, or fly fishing.
Or read a book for fun for the first time in like forever! It’s probably been a few years since you were able to read for fun, and now you have the chance.
Better the World
There’s no better way to decompress from the bar exam than by getting out there and doing something good for the world. If you have the time and energy, consider volunteering your time to a good cause. Find a meal center, or a high school tutoring/mentoring program, or build a house with Habitat for Humanity. If you have a passion to make the world a better place, now is a great chance to give your time!
It won’t be so easy when you’re in practice, believe me.
And, a little secret: Volunteering is often a great way to network and meet other professionals.
Taking the bar exam isn’t exactly like scaling Mt. Everest or being the first person on the moon, but it’s an accomplishment that you should be proud of, and it’s one that definitely deserves a little reward. You should treat yourself. Book a massage or even a whole spa day, go camping, take a long walk, or whatever it is that floats your boat.
Just remember to keep it legal, Folks, because you’ll probably be lawyers in a few months.