There is nothing funny about the bar exam or bar review courses.
For our friend, Jen
So, you've taken your last law school exam, packed your bags and eagerly await a relaxing summer by the pool sifting through job offers and forum shopping.* But the ribbon tied to your finger jolts your memory - you need to buy some eggs! And take the bar exam. Yes folks, there is a hitch to becoming a lawyer - and it's called the Bar Exam.**
Your law degree is useless without a law license, an index card-sized document listing your name, height, weight, date of birth, turn-ons and a series of random numbers. A law license allows you to practice law in the state of your choice. How do you get the law license? Many years ago, you could 'read the law' with a practicing attorney. This entailed stoking the stove, sharpening the quills and chasing away the street urchins loitering in front of the office, begging "For a twopence, guv'nor."*** Times have changed - now, only duly licensed lawyers can shoo-away street urchins.
Becoming a licensed attorney is easy: you simply have to pass what's called a Bar Exam. Relax, there is precious little math on the Bar Exam. The Bar exam is mostly English Comprehension, some physics and a smattering of American History. You might be asking, "Yes, but how do I pass this exam? I'm tired after three years of school and frankly, I'm not that bright." You pass the Bar Exam by taking a Bar Exam Review Course. A Bar Exam Review Course attempts to replace the meaningless information you've gathered during your law school tenure with even more meaningless information identified by anti-competitive cretins, who couldn't hack it as practicing lawyers, as things you should know for approximately the same amount of time it takes to complete a Major League ballgame.
Your bar review course will consist of approximately eight weeks of classes, Monday through Friday. The classes start out being three or four hours a day, then gradually increase to 4 1/2 to 51/2 hours a day as your tolerance grows and then back to 41/2 hours a day. Side effects can include shortness of breath, hair loss, oiley discharge, priapism and temporary blindness.
Passing the bar exam looks like a daunting task because it is a daunting task. Take solace though. Others have gone through the bar exam and survived. Here are some of their stories:
Steven "Skip" Masterson:
"I didn't go to Harvard but I took bar review there because when we saw action, I wanted the person next to me to be the best. I didn't want to be stuck at a table with some 2nd tier wannabe. I wanted a future senator or supreme court justice next to me. It didn't turn out the way I thought it would. When things got hot, all those Harvard guys knew was theory. At the break they were all talking about how the royal courts under James II influenced early common law more than those under Charles II. Hell, I just wanted to know the 4th element necessary for adverse possession. It was a nightmare."
"It was so calm when we first reached the testing area. People nodded to each other nervously but no one spoke. We were all lined up, ready to go in, but none of us really knew what was in store for us. We were so young, so idealistic. So many of us went in, but when lunch time came, I hardly saw anyone from my bar prep course. My best friend went to the bathroom two hours into the exam. I never saw him again. When we walked out the first day all I could think was, 'this is it? This is all that made it?"
"When the proctor said 'Begin', all hell broke loose. The sound of people desperately leafing through test booklets rang in my ears. I wear hearing aids to this day. The person next to me soiled himself, then broke and ran. I never even got to know his name. Because I sat at the same table with him, I was supposed to write the letter to his parents. But what could I say. Your son was a hero? I never wrote the letter and it's haunted me for seven years."
"I was at the Javitz center in the summer of '98. I went in with the first wave. I don't remember much. My training kicked in and I was on automatic pilot. That was the only way I was able to drown-out the anguished cries for help. They told us what to expect, they said not to expect any questions about mortgages or metes and bounds - yeah, they said. . . but they weren't there. When it was over, little bits of lead covered the floor along with baggies of half-eaten pretzels. Pencil sharpeners, used once, were callously tossed away without a thought. I promised myself right then and there that I would buy a peaceful little farm and never take another standardized test again."
"It wasn't really a big deal."
You feel, no doubt, immense pressure. Remember, this pressure is all in your mind, unless, of course, you begin to bleed out the eyes or ears. If that occurs it is probably more serious than the bar exam. Finish all your practice questions and then consult a physician on your study break. In the meantime, let Stockton & Tweed relieve some of that pressure with some helpful hints and tips and do's and don'ts for the bar exam.
SOME HELPFUL HINTS AND TIPS AND DO'S AND DON'TS FOR THE BAR EXAM
1. Cleverly, the bar exam is graded on a consensus of the answers given. Thus, if 90% of the test takers identify "the right to party-hearty" as the answer to the question, "which right is protected by the 9th Amendment to the US Constitution," then party-hearty my friends, cause' it's in the Constitution. Accordingly, all bar examinees should agree beforehand to answer all of the multiple choice questions as "A".
2. You will take numerous practice exams. You will know the answers to those practice questions. Cut out those questions and answers and then past them into your actual bar exam booklet.
3. DO do everything the bar review experts tell you (unless it involves going to the experts apartment, honey, a mule and listening to Iron Butterfly).
4. Do NOT smoke crack or crank, snort blow, shoot-up H, pop any uppers or downers, or do anything else involving pseudonym's before or during the bar exam - unless you have enough for everyone.
5. In order to maximize comfort during the exam, tell anyone wishing to sit next to you that the seat is saved for someone else.
6. Psychological warfare is the name of the game. During a break approach anyone close to a nervous breakdown and say, "Damn, I can't believe an entire essay was devoted to The Rule of Shelley's Case."****
** Lawyer shorthand for Bar Examination
*** A twopence is half a fourpence or 3.2 mililiters
**** Alternatively, if an essay included a Res Ipsa Loquitur issue, tell the person, "I was almost going to write about Res Ipsa Loquitur and then I remembered it wasn't an Res Ipsa issue, it was a Res Judicata issue.