Monthly Archives: July 2012


It begins now….

As I am preparing to walk into Day 1 of the July 2012 Texas Bar Exam, I am reminded of quote I saw recently.  It is from a speech given by Theodore Roosevelt in his 1910 speech, “Citizenship in a Republic.”  While reading the excerpt it struck me as appropriate for this personal battle I have before me this week, and so, I decided to post it here as a reminder to myself that:

“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”

Deep breath.  Then…let’s do this.

Send prayers.  See you on the other side.


1 Week Until the Texas Bar Exam

Well, this is my last (hopefully) bar prep countdown blog.  I kinda missed my usual Sunday update, but figured that getting to sleep early was more important.  This last week was my final push to the Texas Bar Exam and I doubled my study time.  From last Sunday to yesterday I logged in 81.5 hours.

At 8 pm yesterday my study partner and I closed our books and said, “No mas.”  While we’ll for sure do some light review of our condensed notes the rest of this week, the intense and focused study time is done.  Thank you, God.

As we left the SMU Law Library that had been our home for the last 9 days, it was sort of bittersweet.  We’d developed our little routine, for the most part we got there at the same time everyday (after a visit to Starbuck’s ), we left there at the same time everyday, we sat at the same table and saw the same 5 or 6 people and we studied like probably neither of us has ever studied before.  I have come to realize that studying for the bar exam is unlike any other kind of studying I’ve ever done. Ever. And it’s because no matter how much you study or how long you study, there’s always more to learn.

I thought of it this way:  The “LAW” is as vast and deep as the ocean.  However, what law you need to know for the bar exam is only the surface of the ocean, maybe 6″ deep.  But how many of us, if challenged,would have more success putting 6″ worth of all the world’s oceans in our pocket as opposed to ALL of the world’s oceans?  The reality is, both tasks are just as daunting. You do what you can do and then you move on.

I started out this summer with a goal and that was to eat the elephant one bite at a time and I accomplished that. Now, I’m a day away from my bar exam and no matter what happens, I know I did all I could do.  I tracked my progress.  I had a plan for every day.  I sacrificed time, and sleep, and LIFE, for the opportunity to tackle the biggest, most important test of my life and to do it well.

No matter what happens the rest of this week and when results are released, I have no regrets and no reason to second-guess myself.  I can honestly look at myself in the mirror and know that I gave myself the best shot at doing this right the first time.

I am blessed to have so many friends and family and colleagues that genuinely supported me through this experience. Thank you to my wonderful study partner, E.J., here in Dallas who  was a pleasure to be around during this most stressful time.  Thanks for keeping us on a tight schedule and taking care of parking for us which made it so convenient.  I appreciate studying with someone who was as serious and diligent as I was (and sometimes more so!).  I also enjoyed the precious few breaks we took to walk  around and just laugh off some of the stress.  I am so going to miss seeing you!  I know you are going to do great on the bar; that’s just the kind of person you are. I’m glad you’re my friend.

Thanks also to my friend, L.H. with whom I’ve stayed for 4 years of law school and now up until the bar.  You have been wonderful.  These last two weeks I’ve been here you’ve taken care to be sure I had dinner every night and provided a calming environment where I could study undisturbed.  But too, you were there to remind me to take a break and have some ice cream:  The bar exam is just a test.  I appreciate the perspective, sometimes it was hard to remember that.

Well, after over 495 study hours, 20 or so practice essays, a dozen MPTs and over 700 practice problems all I can say is let the chips fall where they may this week.  If the Texas Bar Exam eats my lunch, it will be a long hard-fought battle, because I’m not going to make it easy.

I’m bringing everything I have and everything I’ve learned and every prayer I’ve sent heavenward throughout this journey.  And I’ve got any army of people praying for me this week and so I know, nothing is impossible.

“..being confident of this, that HE who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”  Phil 1:6″

This  week, I’m claiming this promise.

2 Weeks Until the Texas Bar Exam

Running short on time…  There’s probably nothing much to add this week except more of the same.   For anyone who is a SpongeBob Squarepants aficionado what is going on now, and clear through this upcoming week, is akin to “Squilliam Returns” (Season 3, Episode Six).  I wish I could’ve found a video illustration to link to this blog, but alas, I couldn’t find one quick and so decided to just link to a Wiki on it.

In short, SB is supposed to learn all there is about fine dining (long story, see episode for detail) and to make room in his head for all he has to learn, he has to dump what’s already in there:

Squidward tells SpongeBob to clear his mind of “everything that doesn’t have to do with fine dining and breathing.”  SpongeBob’s mind  is metaphorically portrayed as an office operated by little SpongeBobs.  The boss tells them to dump everything that doesn’t have to do with fine dining and breathing until further notice. They begin shredding all the documents, which represent SpongeBob’s knowledge, until SpongeBob just stares into empty space and doesn’t respond to anything.

Then it happens:  Someone asks SB…his name!

However, SpongeBob cannot remember his name, having discarded it along with everything else, and inside his mind, all of the little SpongeBobs are trying to find his name, which ultimately results in his brain snapping in half.

THIS is my brain on the bar exam; it is snapping in half!!  Truly I have found that in the last several weeks it has become hard to do simple things that I used to do well like, spell.  Suddenly I can’t remember how to spell “success” (are there two c’s???) but ask me to spell res ipsa loquitur, respondeat superior or res gestae and my response is, “Backwards or forwards?”  So bizarre!

Today, I spent three hours at school taking a simulated half-day essay exam and I felt pretty good coming out of that.  For some reason, studying last week I was starting to hit panic mode about the essays.  I feel good about the MPT and the P&E, the MBE is the beast that just eats everyone’s lunch on Day 2, but when I thought about what work I’d done on the essay section I didn’t feel like I’d done enough.

I did about 15 Barbri essays and submitted them for grading even though we were only required to do maybe 3-4 total.  The rest were optional and I did all but two on the list.  I may still do those last two this coming week just to say I did them all.  I was nervous going into this practice exam because I didn’t feel like I had enough law in my head to write an essay for these subjects, some of which I didn’t even take in law school.  Presently, I haven’t gotten my graded essays back from our advisor at school, so I’m feeling good about my work.  But, let’s see what the graders think….

My practice tests on the MBE are just all over the place.  I have good days in nearly all the subjects and bad days in the same subjects.  I have yet to get them to all converge at one time so I’m hoping that that convergence will happen a week from this coming Wednesday when I need all the stars and planets aligned in my favor.

I miss being at home and seeing my family, but I am noticing that my internal stress level has gone way down since coming up here and getting to focus on just this without any worry about anyone or anything.  My study partner and I have been at the SMU law library the last two days and will be there the rest of the week and it’s been great.  I forgot how much I missed being in an academic library.  I love the smell of musty books and the utter silence.  I appreciate that people don’t take cell phone calls and when they talk, which is not often, they…whisper.  It is the simple things that mean the most to me at this most stressful time.  I have also discovered that this craziness is pretty “normal” for those studying for the bar exam.  Whew!  Makes me feel better.

I’m losing track of time and what day it is, but I missed going to church today which is not a common thing for me.  As soon as I finish this blog, the last thing I plan to do before getting some hard-earned sleep is watch the online video of this morning’s service to complete my Sunday.

In life outside of the bar exam:  A job was posted last week in which I am interested.  I applied and hopefully will hear back on that soon.

This upcoming week is it; I have to finish strong and prepare myself mentally and physically to perform the way I know I can on this bar exam.  I have been in training the last four years and especially this entire summer for what will transpire next week.  Let’s go, last week of bar prep, give me all you got!

3 Weeks Until the Texas Bar Exam

This last week was STRESSFUL and it is just going to get worse.  Who put “time” on fast forward?  I cannot even believe that two weeks from today I will be getting ready for my bar exam week. Suddenly I feel like I need more time!

I have just two final days of Barbri (Civil Procedure) then my Barbri circle of friends  and I will have to go our separate ways until after the bar exam.  😦  We’ve already promised to keep tabs on each other (via email) these last couple of weeks and keep sharing encouragement for the toughest part of this journey.  I really don’t think I would have made it through the drudgery of bar review without these girls to commiserate with; really, they made it fun.

What was decidedly NOT fun this last week was our simulated MBE…200 questions in the same mixed subjects that are tested on Day 2 of the bar exam:  Property, Contracts, Torts, Evidence, Criminal Procedure, and Constitutional Law.  It was as close to a testing experience as we’ve had so far.  It took all day (just as Day 2 of the bar exam) with 3 hours of testing (100 questions) in the morning and another set in the afternoon.  My head felt like it was stuffed with oatmeal at the end of the day and I had a headache.  I only felt confident about a handful of questions and the rest of them were anyone’s guess.

As we compared notes afterward, everyone in my circle felt the same way.  Even though the Barbri people keep telling us to “Stop thinking like “A” law students and realize that you aren’t going to tackle this exam the way you did in law school.”  Easier said than done.  All of us still want to excel and this exam just doesn’t allow for much of that.

Although my MBE simulated score was not what I wanted, it did confirm my weakest subjects, so I’ve got to focus on getting better in those.  I don’t  have time to master them, and luckily the bar doesn’t require that I do that, but if I can get just a few more right in each section and keep getting better in my strong subjects, I think that’ s my best shot!

I’ve spent the last two days going over those 200 questions (and I’m still not done!) in excruciating detail.  Barbri has a 2-hour online video review of each subject area and although it takes an ENORMOUS amount of time, these lectures have given me some of the best tips and tricks for the exam that I have seen so far.  I sort of wish I had gotten this information sooner!

Today I got my last MPT back from one of my law school advisers that has been reviewing these for me weekly.  It was one of the best ones I’ve done so far 5- on a 6 point scale!  If I can do that on the bar, I’m golden on this area!

I didn’t do any studying today, but instead did a ton of organizing.  I have condensed all my study materials in to three binders—one for each day. I’ve put everything I have to study in its appropriate binder, labeled it and tabbed everything.  That way I’ll be able to shift back and forth between all the 4 different test areas with ease.

I did audio versions of rule statements for three of my most difficult topics and then burned them onto a CD that I can play over and over in my car as I’m driving or when I’m going to sleep.  I will also add those  files onto my MP3 player so I can listen to them no matter where I am.  I’ve got more rule statements to record for the remainder of the essay subjects, but for now, I’ll start working on the most challenging ones.

*Sigh*  I feel like I’m going 675 (Ha ha, get it…675…the passing bar score) different directions and I am…but if I can just hang on for a few more weeks…hopefully this will all pay off.

Tuesday I’m changing venue and going back to Dallas where I’ll stay up to and through the bar exam.  It will be good to be back where I am comfortable studying since the MOST difficult part of bar prep here at home has been finding a good place to study. I never did find “the” place because most places didn’t stay open as late as I needed, didn’t have guest internet, or both.  Also, I found that outside of academia it is quite difficult to find places where people study for extended periods of time and in relative quiet.  With everyone having cell phones now, nobody thinks anything of just busting out in long, loud conversations right in the middle of the library.

Maybe the fact that I’m nearing my saturation point with studying is making me even more edgy.  Yes, that’s probably true.  But also, I just don’t understand so little consideration for others around you.

So, my suggestion to anyone considering going away from their school to study for the bar exam:  find a place to study that will work for you.  Find it early and make sure that you check it out several different times at different times of the day to see if it fits your needs. Otherwise, stay close to your home campus and utilize facilities with which you are familiar and you can skip the drama of studying like a nomad.

I’m all tapped out of anything more this time around.  It’s been a rough week.  Still I clocked 50 hrs.  I have a feeling that next week I’ll look back at THIS week and long for having studied “just” 50 hours.  Wish me luck and send me prayers!!!  Pleeeze!

Mid-Week Mini-Rant

Hey Buddy!

Yeah, you…sitting next to me at the Library:

Please control your restless leg syndrome because it is REALLY distracting in my peripheral vision.  I don’t mean to be snarky, but this is crunch time for me and I’m trying to study.  You have no idea the number of  MALICE crimes that are going through my head right now as you sit there shaking, shaking, shaking your leg.  Shouldn’t you be somewhere ELSE River Dancing or something?!?!

At minimum, I think I would have a good chance of arguing adequate provocation if I just lost it right here.

Think about it:  I’d have to be indicted by a prosecutor (lawyer), argue to a judge (lawyer) and be represented by a defense lawyer.  They ALL took the Bar Exam, maybe more than one.  They know what I’m going through.  I think they’d empathize.  Moreover, I think they’d be on my side.

Just a thought.  *Sigh*

Back to the books.


PS–In case there are any bar examiners scouring blogs to find people whose character and fitness you can revoke: The above is a JOKE!  🙂

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