The Bar Exam, Post-Mortem

Well, we made it to the other side of the Texas bar exam intact. That was not a particularly fun experience. When taking the bar, a person definitely reaches a point where he knows very little law, knows this, and just can’t fit any more in his head without forcing out something truly important, like his address or possibly the instinct to breathe at regular intervals. This has the result that when taking the exam, literally everyone reaches a point at which the questions are all familiar, and the examinee knows full well that he or she has seen something about this type of question in the materials he or she used to prep for the bar and that his or her state has a statute or a case directly on point, so there is a right answer to the question… but is completely unable to remember what that is. In fact, it’s pretty normal to have that happen more than one time per question.

What to do? The rule is: if you don’t know the rule being tested, make one up and apply it. So that’s what you do. Frequently. Outrageously frequently. If your legal education was good enough – that is, if you’ve actually learned to think like a lawyer – then often, you find that you made up a rule that is precisely correct (or close enough not to matter). Even if your made-up rule is totally off the wall, you can probably salvage some points by applying it to the facts correctly. But, at the end of the day, the reality is that you’ve faced down somewhere between a dozen and a couple hundred questions (depending on which part of the test you just took) and, no matter how much you prepare, you’ve probably just made up in whole or in part your answers to well over half of them. C’est la vie, c’est le bar.

We both feel like things went pretty well. I only went back to look up one or two things that I know I was unclear on, and was gratified to find that my shot-in-the-dark guessing was actually spot-on; Sarah had a similar experience. Now, we just have to wait three months for the State of Texas to tell us we passed the thing.