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Thursday, July 27, 2006

Closing Down the Bar

I'd like to congratulate all those who finished the Bar Exam today. No lawyer ever forgets the agony of the Bar Exam. Ever. Two solid months of your life are spent preparing for the exam. It is a daunting task that leads to many tears, a lot of sweat, and occasionally some blood.

For those who were smart enough not to become lawyers, a little education on the Texas Bar Exam: the bar takes place twice a year, in February and July. It is always the last three days of the month beginning on a Tuesday. The exam starts with a half-day, wherein you take the Multistate Performance Test (MPT), and a short-answer test on Criminal Procedure, Civil Procedure, and Evidence. The MPT is a test of "real-life" lawyer skills. You receive a packet of information, which you must read through and then do a memo, a closing argument, or some other such task that real lawyers engage in. It sounds easy and it probably is the least difficult part of the bar, but it still takes some time to get through it all.

Day two is the Multistate Bar Exam questions. This is 200 of the most daunting multiple choice questions ever! This typically tends to be the hardest part of the bar exam for many people. You do 100 questions in the morning session and 100 questions in the afternoon session. You have three hours in each session to complete this portion.

Finally, day three is the essay questions. Much like day two, this takes place in three-hour morning and afternoon sessions. You do six essays in the morning and six in the afternoon. These comprise any number of legal subjects from wills and trusts, property, and consumer law, to family law. You must be able to articulate the law in several subject areas.

The bar is usually held in a large room with tables lining the place. It almost looks like a big cafeteria. People show up, take their assigned seat, and try to hold back the tears. Fear is present everywhere. It's so bad you can smell it, it permeates the air.

What is interesting though is that the exam is not the worst part. It's the preparation for it that drains the life out of you. The exam itself is also challenging and quite draining, but most agree that the preparation is the worst part of it. I took the bar in February 2005 and I still remember with vivid detail the intense preparation, the complete and total fear, and the depression that set in with the process. Some people become so paralyzed by fear that during the actual exam, they cry, throw-up, leave or do some combination of all of it. It's sad to see someone get through the preparation and then freeze on the exam, but it happens and it happens often.

So, I applaud those who have finished the exam today. Regardless of the results, you have come through the fire and survived the experience. Celebrate big tonight and finally get the rest you've missed out on the last two months.

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