Just over a week since my dad passed away and life goes on. Strange. Thanksgiving came and went; it was a subdued event with time for smiles and time for tears. Mom and I toasted dad over a glass of white wine; then we cried. He was supposed to be here. I wanted to show him my graduation pictures and my graduation ring that got delivered this week.
Even the endless list of things to do didn’t seem to be enough this year. I wanted my mind to be busy so that things would feel normal again. Even though every year I’ve been in law school I’ve had a final on the Monday after Thanksgiving (and this one is no different) I have pretty much resigned myself to the fact that Thanksgiving Day is a bust for getting much studying done. It only took me 4 years to concede this as fact. I’d already scheduled something to do for this day (that didn’t involve studying) even before dad passed away, but turns out I really needed the distraction.
So this Thanksgiving I filled out my application to take the Texas Bar exam. I think I spent a little over two hours on it and it wasn’t as bad as I anticipated. Actually, the worst part is probably the $300+ it costs to pay for the exam including the cost for “permission” to take it on a laptop–which is an extra $50 on top of the exam fee. Once you purchase permission to use a laptop then you get to pay for the necessary software and license for your laptop. I’m told the software is something like another $100 or so, but I’ve not gotten that far yet. One more reason why you only want to have to take this exam once.
In Texas, once in enrolled in law school you get to fill out an Intent to Study Law (which I think is a misnomer because if you’re already IN law school how can you advise that you “intend” to study law when you’re already doing it?!?). I’d never heard of this before the fall of my 1L year and thought it was a huge pain to have to fill out this seemingly endless paperwork for the State right in the middle of my first year when I was busy trying not to drown. From this end of the journey though, I’m glad I did.
The Board of Law Examiners (“BLE”) uses the Intent to Study Law packet to conduct a preliminary background check (figurative proctology exam) on every student who thinks they might some day want to sit for the Texas bar exam. We had a very “official” meeting at school with a representative from the BLE who tells all the students about how important this paper work is and how it’s in your best interest to be honest. The message is clear: Nearly anything you have to disclose is “fixable,” but what will kill you is any attempt to cover it up. Tell the truth, tell it all, before the BLE finds out.
Although it was no picnic to fill out all the paperwork: aliases, civil litigation history, criminal history, job history, schools attended, addresses etc., I was pretty lucky in that I have always been a rule-follower. Thus, my background was squeaky clean and probably pretty boring for the BLE.
Fast-forward to Thanksgiving Day 2011 and filling out my application to take the Texas Bar exam was a smaller version of the Intent to Study. In fact, you have to start the bar exam application with any activity since filing your Intent. If you kept your nose clean and stayed out of trouble, it’s not so bad. I did find it interesting that in addition to revisiting the information in the Intent, the bar application wants to know if you’ve had issues with alcohol or drugs, certain mental conditions, allegations of fraud, bankruptcy and yes, even if you’re caught up on your bills. Geez!
My Texas Bar Exam application and copy of my Intent to Study Law from 2008
It pays to be a little OCD when it comes to filling out this paperwork for the state. I kept a full copy of my Intent and was able to pull that out and confirm that what I was filling out now matched what I filled out then. That too is a red flag to the BLE: Why did you say A then and now you’re saying B??? I didn’t want any of that. I still had my LSAC number (yes, even 4 years after getting that number assigned to me when applying to law school, it is still relevant to getting out!), my old addresses, my old jobs, everything. So in all, the time I spent could have been worse. I was really proud of myself for thinking forward, keeping copies of my documents and filing them in a place where I had no trouble getting to them again.
This week I’ll get the affidavits notarized at school and have this ready to drop in the mail on Nov. 30. This is the earliest postmark the BLE will accept for the July 2012 exam. Wow, my stomach just dropped. That’s kind of scary. Um…on second thought, I may just drive downtown and hand-deliver it myself so I can get my file copy date stamped. OCD.
Meanwhile, I’ve got three final exams to get through and the first one is tomorrow. I’ve got to get on the road to Ft. Worth in a bit so I’ll already be there in the morning. All prayers and positive energy is appreciated.