Fall is in the air, and as the leaves turn from verdant green to the orange, red, and brown colors of death, sometimes with a sprinkling of yellow just so the New Yorkers will drive through and comment about how beautiful things are, so too do the hopes of the July bar exam takers wither and die as each state releases results. Most recently, for example, Mississippi decided this week was the perfect time to destroy the self-esteem and crush the dreams of a whopping 47% of the poor morons that sat for the exam this past summer. I mean, as if living in, and wanting to continue living in, Mississippi wasn’t enough of a punishment, those poor kids now have to suck it up and admit they aren’t going to become “Like one of those guys in a John Grisham book” anytime in the near future while staring down a mountain of student loan debt in the state that ranks the lowest in the nation on that “we’re dirt poor” scale.
So yeah, Mississippi bar exam takers in that 47%, good fucking luck. For the rest of you, though, now you probably understand why the whole of the South has a phrase that goes “Thank God for Mississippi!” But don’t get too cocky, because there are a lot of fucking states that haven’t released their bar exam results yet, and we’re still waiting to see whether the bump in pass rates from the July 2016 examination is a fluke or if that shit’s really on the climb again. So, you know, you could find yourself sobbing gently into a pillow as you start to wonder how long you’ll be chasing the elusive “Esquire” you so desperately wish to append to your signature line like a Grade A Asshole.
Me, however? Oh, I passed the bar exam years ago, so I get to take a certain amount of devilish delight in watching and wondering who’s next on the hit list of bar exam failures. But, you know, I’m not entirely heartless (that doesn’t happen until you make partner), so let’s have an open and honest conversation about all of the things you folks who find yourself on the wrong side of a pass/fail rate can do now that the long wait to find out if you’re a disappointment has ended.
Your Family Will Still Love You.
I mean, I don’t know your family. They may start referring to you as “the shameful one” and never invite you to things again. Or they may put you in the black sheep position. “Oh, Timmy? He’s a child molestor…but I bet he would have passed the bar, right Michael?”
In all likelihood, though, your family will support you about this stuff. Yeah, the temptation to fake your death and move to another country to work as a simple peasant farmer will be strong, but you gotta own up to it. You failed the bar exam. Might as well tell them about it now and get it the fuck over with. It’s not like your mom isn’t already checking the pass lists to figure out if you’re a lawyer or a failure already.
But don’t stress too much. Have a good cry and then start looking to the future, because…
You Can Re-Take The Exam!
I know you just spent three years of your life preparing for an exam that you completely didn’t pass, and right now you may be wondering if you’d have been better off pursuing that doctorate in Sub-Aquatic Ichthyological Communications. I don’t want to rub your nose in it like a puppy who pissed on the brand new carpet, because you’re a person, and you deserve to know that your entire self-worth doesn’t boil down to the administration of just one exam, especially when you can always take that exam again to try and pass.
The odds are, for some of you, in your favor so long as on the repeat attempts you actually buckle the fuck down and do what you need to do to learn the material, improve the manner in which you take the exam, and apply yourself to the exclusion of everything else in your life. Plenty of good lawyers have failed the exam on their first attempt because of anything from a panic attack to having a family emergency while you were supposed to be preparing. But you gotta be willing to bust your ass in doing it, and not spend three fucking hours arranging all your study materials and a large designer coffee for the perfect instagram photo to show off how hard you’re studying.
So, you know, don’t give up just yet. Unless this is like your third or fourth attempt. Then give the fuck up, because…
You Ain’t My Cousin Vinny.
Dudes, the more times you do something and fail at it, the less likely you are to actually goddamn succeed at it. Yeah, I know, Edison was all like “I didn’t fail 100 times, I discovered 100 ways not to make a lightbulb” or some shit, but you aren’t Edison. That shit don’t fly in the world of legal analysis and minimal competence. Besides, the longer you go between graduation and admission, the more likely it is an employer is going to want to know why you took so goddamn long to get a license, and like it or not we’re going to fucking judge you for taking and failing the bar so many times. So your excuse better be something more than “It took me a few times to get over my anxiety,” because this is a test of bare competence and if it takes you nine goddamn attempts to get a law license because of anxiety I have serious doubts about your ability to handle a court case.
“But Boozy,” you interject because of course you’ll interject, “Vincent LaGuardia Gambini took six attempts to pass the bar and he’s the main character in that movie all the lawyers love!”
Alright, I’ll talk slowly here: Vincent LaGuardia Gambini is a fictional character. If you don’t understand why this is a problem, rent Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and pay attention to Mr. Affleck. Besides, the movie cut out the part where we explain it wasn’t Vinny’s inability to grasp the material that caused him to take six attempts, it was his dyslexia.
You ain’t My Cousin Vinny, so you also need to know…
It’s Okay To Move On.
Folks, the fact is not everyone can be a lawyer despite what law schools want you to think, and some of you aren’t going to pass the bar no matter how many times you sit for it. I personally know someone who has sat for seven attempts now, and failed each one of them. Their life has degraded into nothing but pure obsession over taking the bar exam and passing it. This has been going on for years.
Look, you made it through law school and a lot of other people didn’t make it through law school. You have a professional degree, and as much as I shit on them, there are J.D. Preferred jobs out there. You don’t need to build your entire self-worth over this one exam. It’s okay to let go of the dream of being a low-grade Atticus Finch and start doing other, more fruitful and fulfilling things with your life than huddling somewhere crouched like Golem over a pile of Kaplan books or some shit.
Just, quick tip, know your audience and don’t apply for like…a job at McDonald’s…with a J.D. on your resume. Employers who aren’t looking for a J.D. will see that shit and assume the second you pass the bar your ass is gone and may move on to a more long-term possibility.
Also, Please Don’t Kill Yourself.
This shit happens. Don’t fucking do it. It’s a test. At the end of the day, no matter what role you play in life I’m fairly certain you have people that love you and something to contribute to society. Everyone fucks up, and you can’t expect to get every goddamn thing in life that you want.
If you’re thinking about that shit, go talk to someone.
In The End, It’s For the Best.
Seriously. You don’t want this life, you just fucking think you want this life.
There are plenty of other occupations out there. Like drug dealing. I hear that’s turning into a nice, respectable way to earn a living!
And if you don’t think so…well…you got like five months to get ready for your next shot. Start cracking the books.