Bar Exam Mind – Journaling Exercise Three

by thedesertion

The author of Bar Exam Mind, Matt Racine, makes a good point: whether you practice law for many years or never at all, a law degree and a bar license are laudable accomplishments nonetheless. Today’s exercise is to write about how you will feel once you pass the bar exam and become a lawyer.

I am probably one of the few people who went to and through law school not really feeling like the type to get a law firm job and strive to make partner. I didn’t really feel like the type to go solo either. The way my parents saw it, law school was just one large dowry and at the end of three years’ time they got a son-in-law out of it. But at least we all got our money’s worth. A JD and an Mrs. Two degrees for the price of one!

I am still not sure what I want to do with this law degree, if anything at all. I am quite certain the only reason why I’m trying to get this bar pass is to prove to myself that this is an accomplishment that I can achieve. I always dread the question, “What kind of law do you want to practice?” I should come up with a standard canned response like, “Bankruptcy!” or “Family law!” but alas, I just can’t fake it so I tell people the truth. I have no idea what I’m doing.

What led me to law school was a job as a paralegal. I was doing all the work and making just $10 per hour in a city where that is far, far below the poverty line.  I qualified for welfare and all that, but decided to pick up a bunch of other odd jobs just to make ends meet. When I saw an associate in his office with the chair leaned all the way back and feet on the desk, that is when the lightbulb went off and I said to myself, “Hey, if that guy can do it, I can do it too. I’m going to go to law school.” It was the proverbial Elle Woods moment, although much less glamorous and not in the color pink.

So there I was, studying for the LSAT. Test anxiety is nothing new to me so of course, I bombed it. I pulled myself together, signed up for Testmasters, and then gave it another go. I scored just 7 points better the second time around. A law school came calling, and I said, hey, why not. Off I went.

Fast forward three years and a bar failure, and now I am here, studying yet again. For what? I don’t really know. A bar pass. What am I going to do with this bar pass? Do I see myself pulling 80 hour weeks at a firm? No. Too much work. Do I see myself going off on my own, setting up my own practice? No. Too much work. I’ve got a problem here.

I have strayed from the topic of this journal, but it was a good stray. Now I’m back to the intended topic. How will I feel once I pass the bar exam and become a lawyer? What great things do I plan to do after I become a lawyer?

I will feel extreme relief when I pass the bar exam. I don’t even know if I’ll feel happiness, joy, or all those other things one would expect. The good news of a bar pass will bring absolute relief. Passing the bar will provide relief from the stresses of studying and relief from the fear of failure. The key feeling here is relief. Nothing else but relief. The feelings will be different once I am sworn in. I think those feelings will be more along the lines of joy, happiness, and most of all, humble pride. I will feel a sense of humble pride because having experienced failure before success is very humbling. I would appreciate the successes in greater depth and richness after having experienced failure.  Thus, on swearing-in day, I will feel a sense of humble pride.

I don’t really enjoy the thought of grueling hard work, especially after going through years of hard work and studying. Therefore, I don’t think my great accomplishment after becoming a lawyer would be anywhere in the practice of law. For the first time in my life, I am thinking that one of the great things I would like to accomplish after becoming a lawyer is to become a parent. In a day and age where many don’t wait too long or think too hard about parenthood, I have. So becoming a mom is something that I would consider a great thing to do after I become a lawyer.

Some might say I wasted my time getting a law degree if my current goals are to become a mom. Is my law degree going to waste? I don’t think so. What do you think?