Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

Experiences of people who took the bar exam years after graduation?

My situation: I'm a 2017 JD grad, but for a variety of reaso mazatec09/03/18
If you study right along it won't be a problem. What's the g thirdtierlaw09/03/18
MA or MSW at Columbia. Not sure which one-leaning towards t mazatec09/03/18
I took the bar 13+ years post-LS. At the time I graduated f catwoman33309/03/18
What an inspiring story! While studying, were you still wor mazatec09/03/18
Thanks. I was laid off after the crash and "in between catwoman33309/04/18
So you’re clerking without even having taken the bar? Tha dingbat09/03/18
"So you’re clerking without even having taken the bar? Tha mazatec09/03/18
Welcome back Opal... downwardslope09/04/18
Yeah, duh... same thought. wutwutwut09/04/18
mazatec (Sep 3, 2018 - 7:23 pm)

My situation: I'm a 2017 JD grad, but for a variety of reasons, I have not been able to sit for the bar exam yet. I hope to eventually take the UBE in NJ. I had registered for the bar this year and was eligible to take it but sat out because I was doing very poorly in Themis and could not devote the necessary time and energy to it mainly on account of my full-time job-I was not getting sufficient sleep and my health was suffering. I have been clerking for a judge since August 2017 and will continue to do so until August 2019. From August 2019 to May 2021, I will be enrolled in a graduate program, so the earliest I can conceivably take the exam is July 2020, when I will neither be enrolled in classes or working.

Has anyone else taken the bar exam years after graduation? I'll be three years removed from law school at that point and nearly 8 years removed from the "core" 1L courses covered heavily on the bar exam (property, torts, contracts, civ pro, crim, etc.) For those of you in my boat, did it feel like essentially learning the concepts for the first time? Was your study strategy/approach any different than traditional bar takers who tackle the exam the summer after 3L? Did you pass on the first attempt?

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thirdtierlaw (Sep 3, 2018 - 7:48 pm)

If you study right along it won't be a problem. What's the grad school? I'd be more worried about finding a job. Especially if you're taking off time from clerking inbetween.

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mazatec (Sep 3, 2018 - 7:55 pm)

MA or MSW at Columbia. Not sure which one-leaning towards the MSW since it's online and I'd avoid the disruption/expense of moving to and living in NYC. I was beyond burnt out with juggling a full-time job and bar prep and my sleep and wellbeing was negatively impacted (lack of sleep causes premature aging and mental health problems).

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catwoman333 (Sep 3, 2018 - 10:21 pm)

I took the bar 13+ years post-LS. At the time I graduated from LS, I had no interest in practicing law and was already working as a journalist (then later in government agencies in non-legal jobs).


Fast-forward years later: The stock market crashed in '07, jobs were scarce, so I decided to give it a shot to expand my future career options. I knew I couldn't afford the high cost of the bar exam application fees, plus air travel and hotels, plus $1,000 for a pricey formal bar review course/materials. So I just studied on my own with borrowed typewritten outlines from an atty who had taken and passed the previous exam. I took the WA State bar exam which, at the time, was 100% essays, and purchased a few sets of old exam Qs/model answers from the bar assn which released them to bar applicants back then as study aids. Those were most helpful to me as they provided both an opportunity to practice time management and compare my practice answers against the well-written ones written by previous successful test-takers.

Oddly, with maturity and passage of time, the bar subjects actually made MORE sense to me, were easier to comprehend years later than they seemed when I first studied them back in LS. I remember thinking, "Of course...all this makes so much sense now!" I NEVER, EVER felt that way in law school! LOL. (Perhaps because I was so stressed back then by such a heavy class schedule, having to race to plow through 300-page tomes for each class, worry about grades, etc.).

At first, it did feel a bit awkward, isolating studying alone instead of taking a formal review course with others, but I quickly created a structured study routine, rhythm I felt comfortable with. On days I began questioning the wisdom--or sanity--of what I was attempting, I calmed myself by saying: "Well, don't worry. Give it your best shot and just see what happens. If you don't pass, no big deal because, after all, law school WAS a very long time ago! So, whatever happens is fine...." I noticed that internal mantra really significantly reduced my stress, helped me avoid the high anxiety/stress I noticed in so many (including much younger) test-takers on exam day; while most of them were outside during breaks, chain-smoking like crazy, groaning, I was sitting alone, quietly meditating, replaying that same mental tape: "If I pass, fine...if not, no biggie"...:). Much to my surprise, I passed. I say surprise because, frankly, I assumed I would not pass because I had been away from LS and the world of test-taking for so long. I also noticed MANY older test-takers on exam day. Some of them were taking the exam due to a second (or third) career change; or they were licensed in another state but had moved; or they were transitioning from military JAG life overseas to a civilian career; or they were licensed in a foreign country but had become US citizens; or their current employer was opening a new office branch in a different state. So PLEASE do not feel awkward because you are an older test-taker!

So my takeaway: never discourage yourself from daring to do something "different", daunting or unique and take care of yourself (mentally, physically--sleep, eat well, take breaks while you're studying etc.). Even if you don't pass the first time around, at least give yourself a pat on the back for having the courage to try something difficult and daring in life!! And GOOD LUCK!!

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mazatec (Sep 3, 2018 - 11:00 pm)

What an inspiring story! While studying, were you still working in the gov't agency?

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catwoman333 (Sep 4, 2018 - 11:30 pm)

Thanks.

I was laid off after the crash and "in between jobs" at the time I took the exam, so I had a lot time to focus, study without the distraction of work (although I was also looking for work at the same time I was studying for the bar).

You might want to ask your current employer, the judge, if you can take time off to study, esp. around the holidays to study for, take the Feb. (or winter) exam. (I would think a judge would be pretty sympathetic, supportive and cut you some slack at work.) Or perhaps just study more gradually (rather than cramming) in the evenings/on weekends over the next year for the summer '19 exam.

Whichever schedule you adopt, pls. take care of your health!! No test or career are worth wrecking it! Meditation and swimming work best for me. They are cheap, very relaxing, and have no side-effects like most meds....:) Best of luck!

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dingbat (Sep 3, 2018 - 9:08 pm)

So you’re clerking without even having taken the bar? That’s pretty impressive.

Considering portability generally requires that you passed the bar in the state you took the exam, I recommend taking the test in North Dakota which not only has a low 260 passing score, but also gives results in about 5 weeks.
If you port your score to NY, you could be admitted before anyone else even knows whether or not they passed

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mazatec (Sep 3, 2018 - 9:23 pm)

"So you’re clerking without even having taken the bar? That’s pretty impressive."

Clerking requires a JD but not bar passage. My predecessor failed twice but was not booted.

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downwardslope (Sep 4, 2018 - 9:53 am)

Welcome back Opal...

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wutwutwut (Sep 4, 2018 - 10:19 pm)

Yeah, duh... same thought.

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