So there’s a Terry Pratchett novel out there called “Monstrous Regiment.” In it a poor, misguided country seeks out war with all of its neighbors in the pursuit of satisfying a dead, lunatic god. Over decades of such warfare, the country’s young men have been depleted, leaving only the women, children, old men, and wounded to manage the insanity that is their nation. Against this backdrop a group of women dress as men and enlist in the army, each for their own reasons, and begin to face the hilarious hardships of a fantasy soldier’s life, all under the tutelage and protection of the rotund, infamous, and clever Sergeant Jackrum, who bellows often (and inaccurately) to his troops “You are my little lads, and I will protect you!”
Imagine that I’m your Sergeant Jackrum today here on Lawyers & Liquor, dear reader, as we move just a bit closer to the mess that is the bar exam. In less than 24 hours some of you will be in the convention halls and hotel meeting spaces of whatever city is close enough to your home for it to make sense, working feverishly on the single two day brain dump of legal knowledge that determines whether or not you have the minimal competence to practice law in your chosen jurisdiction. You, along with hundreds of others who are sweating through their pajama pants and t-shirt or, if you’re in Virginia, the full-fucking-suit they make you wear to take the exam, will be engaging in a rite of passage for the entry into the profession of law, one that your entire legal career of doing absolutely nothing that actually resembles the practice of law has led up to.
A pass, which you won’t know about for months, welcomes you with open arms into a profession that will remind you repeatedly that you are a worthless and stupid piece of shit because you have absolutely no training in how to actually practice law. A failure will send you back to the unwashed masses of humanity that don’t know a tort from a tart, unable to append the word “Esquire” to your name for the very brief period of time anyone that meets you will treat it as acceptable. It is, in every sense of the word, the last bar to practice (get it? I’m so fucking clever today), and while some of you will rise from the ashes of the social lives and mental health that you have left behind you like a seriously disturbed phoenix, others among you will know the horror that is a six figure student loan debt and absolutely no job prospects. I’m certain all of you are just relaxed as shit right now, correct?
But have no fear, my little juris dickheads, for you are my little lads and I will protect you. Mainly by knocking some oft-repeated and rarely heeded advice into your fucking heads.
Stop Fucking Studying.
You are less than 24 hours away from the goddamn exam, and yet some of you are frantically going over outlines, logging one last time into Kaplan, and arranging study sessions with other bar exam takers so you can experiment on how this “blind leading the blind” shit really works. I know, that shit worked in law school before your fucking exams, when you would stay up all night studying the finer points of the law so you could vomit them onto the page in the exam. But this isn’t law school. Law school is fucking over. You are not being tested on one area of law in detail, but rather on all of the areas of law at once. Studying more, at this point, is futile.
Sure, if you think you need a refresher skim over your fucking notes, but there’s no reason to go digging a nutshell out and trying to teach your stupid ass the Rule Against Perpetuities in the next 24 hours. It isn’t going to fucking happen. If you don’t know this shit by now, you sure as shit are not going to master it in the course of one fucking day. All you’ll end up doing is obsessing over that one fucking area of law to the extent that that you start forgetting shit about the seven other areas of law you need to be prepared for. So don’t fucking do it.
You know what you know by now, and you ain’t gonna know anything else. You’ll either succeed or you’re fucked based on how much work you put in at the beginning. Fucking accept it and take a deep breath.
Go See A Fucking Movie.
Or go to the park. Or go fishing. Or play a video game. Just fucking go do something that isn’t related to freaking the fuck out about the exam. You’ve either fucked yourself by sitting on your ass all summer or not. If you have, sitting around worrying about it now isn’t going to make you unfucked. If you haven’t sat around like a goddamn useless lump of flesh and actually put the work in all summer to learn the shit you need to know, you need to defocus for a little bit to preserve some sanity. People aren’t goddamn machines, and all that worrying can and will mentally fatigue your ass between this morning and the start time of the exam tomorrow.
Go watch a stupid fucking comedy. Go play a stupid fucking video game. Do something to shut up the constantly screaming voice in the back of your head for a while and let your brain take a break. Over the next 48 hours, and then over the next 48 years, you’re going to be working the hell out of your brain. Treat it like a condemned prisoner and let it get some rest today.
Speaking of rest…
Go The Fuck To Sleep.
I know you’ll be anxious tonight. It makes sense that you’ll be anxious tonight. Because, you know, your entire fucking career path and future may ride on the performance you’re able to give tomorrow. Passing or failing the exam that you’ll take tomorrow can be the difference between a cushy job on an Easy Street law firm and spending five to six years busting your ass in some shit law firm to build some cred up after a horrible, flaming failure. No pressure, just telling it how it is. But you know what definitely fucking isn’t going to help your performance in the morning?
Laying awake all goddamn night staring at the ceiling, wondering what the fuck you’re going to do and playing out every worst case scenario in your head. That ain’t gonna help at all. So, you know, go the fuck to sleep at a decent hour. And…do it without any drugs designed to knock you out or booze, okay? Because, frankly, those things can cause some fucking problems like making your ass oversleep, miss an alarm, and roll into the exam late and/or still feeling the effects from the night before. Can’t have that shit man. Doesn’t work that way, and besides, we don’t even put up with real goddamn lawyers doing that shit, why the fuck would we put up with it from a worthless piece of shit like yourself?
Just climb in bed early, all the lights out, all the televisions off, and close your eyes until you toss and turn yourself into a semblance of sleep, okay? But don’t do that until you’ve made sure that you can run like hell in the morning.
The Small Shit Matters.
Tomorrow is an important goddamn day, and that means you do need to do some shit tonight to prepare. Have a quick breakfast ready to go (cereal bars for the win, motherfuckers). Get that clear plastic gallon baggie set up and stick that fucker in your car tonight so you don’t forget about it in the morning. Set up the fucking coffee to be brewed the second your ass is out of bed. Lay out your goddamn clothes right fucking now and make sure everything you need like your keys and wallet are right beside the fucking door. Check the goddamn oil on your car.
Most importantly…set like fifteen fucking alarms to get your ass up at least an hour and a half to two hours before you need to leave for the exam.
Here’s the thing, you do not want the additional stress of being a disorganized shit tomorrow. Need to update your laptop? Do it the fuck now. Need to download Examsoft? Do it the fuck now. Don’t know if you need to do either? Check right the fuck now. When you get up in the morning, you need to be able to take a deep breath, grab your shit, eat a semi-nutritious breakfast (Yum yum, motherfucker) and get the fuck out the door without panicking. Because that stress you’ll be feeling while you frantically search for your fucking car keys in a pile of shit you should have organized last night is going to carry over into the exam.
You really want more stress before you sit for the test that determines exactly how much of your time and money you wasted over the last three years?
Conclusion: Good Luck, You Poor Bastards.
Tomorrow is the day that will determine a hell of a lot for you, and failure can feel like a life-ending experience. It isn’t. You can always re-take the exam if you fuck it up sincerely. But there will be shame and shit, I’m not gonna fucking lie. That’s how this shit works. Because people will look for your goddamn name on the pass list and call to ask if you passed.
This leads to my parting thoughts for you fuckwits:
Once the exam is over, don’t think about it again until the pass list comes out. It will be months. You can’t spend months worrying about your future daily. Go take a vacation. Look for a job if you don’t have one. Spend time with family. Shitpost on Twitter. Do something, but don’t spend months obsessing over this fucking test after you take it.
Other than that?
I got nothing for you.
I passed on the first go.
Hope you do too, you poor bastards.