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The. BEST. Day. EVER!!!!

Today is one of the best days of my life.  Bar results came in.  I PASSED!!!!

I am still in shock and will reflect on my thoughts and feelings more in the coming days when I am sure I will write more.  But for now…champagne is in order:

And, if that wasn’t awesome enough, Texas Wesleyan School of Law scored 90.07% in its bar passage rate….THIRD in the state of Texas (out of 9 law schools).  Awesome job Tex Wes Class of 2012!!!

I am so happy, grateful and thankful to God.

 

 

And Just Like That: It Was Over

Once “Time” was called at the end of the afternoon session on day three of the bar exam, there was a restlessness in the room that was palpable.  We were all so ready to leave, but of course, several sections in the room took unusually long to account for all the paperwork and the state-bar-issued USB thumb drives. It took FOREVER….

Finally, the head bar examiner said the words that all of us had been waiting to hear:  “You are released.”  And what a release it was.  I wanted to jump up and cheer, but wasn’t sure if that would be too weird.  Apparently others felt the same way and gave in to the urge.  I just picked up my stuff and couldn’t wipe the smile from my face.  I looked over at my friend E.J. who, gratefully had been assigned to sit in my same section, one row back and two tables over, and we both just grinned.  We were done and it was such a great feeling.

Walking out of that convention center was so surreal.  I knew that I’d get asked, a million times between now and when bar results come in, how I thought I did, so I conducted an internal check right there in the moment.  My gut tells me I did my best and that’s exactly the feeling I wanted.  Whatever happens when results come in, I gave it my all.  Let the chips fall where they may.

I am grateful that I remembered some of the crucial advice given by my professor which was to remain calm and not panic.  He wasn’t kidding.  Panic is the enemy and luckily there was only one moment where it tried to derail my plan.

About mid-way during the MPT on day one I looked at my written outline and then glanced at the time.  Something in my head quickly determined that I didn’t have enough time to finish it all and at that moment I felt the panic rising up from my chest, up into my throat.  For a second I thought I was going to cry and just completely lose it, but then a voice from somewhere deeper within said, “NO!”  I pushed the panic down and, when I thought about it later, it was like I could physically feel it getting shoved down like the plunger on a hypodermic needle.

For those few seconds I felt completely out of control and at the mercy of panic, but then it was gone and never surfaced again for the rest of the exam.  It’s not that I wasn’t in a time crunch the whole rest of the week, but there was no other point during the exam that I let my focus shift from the task, to the time.  It was like I was working outside of myself—completely insulated from panic and fear and negativity. I am convinced this was the answer to a prayer, probably lots of prayers.  I know that I had many people praying earnestly for me and I specifically prayed for peace, wisdom and discernment.  I got the peace that I wanted; that I needed.  I guess we’ll need to wait and see about the wisdom and discernment when results come in!

After 15 hours of testing over 2.5 days I then had a three hour drive home.  I was running on adrenaline and just sheer happiness at being done.  I had a brand new Maroon 5 cd waiting for me in the car and was anxious to get it into the stereo so Adam Levine could keep me company on the long drive.  That was the best drive ever.  I had to take a picture of my first, After Bar Exam sunset.

I could’ve used a several weeks to recover from the whole “bar exam experience,” but instead I had a job interview the very next day and…got the job.  Last Wednesday I started working at the University of Texas at Austin, so I was unemployed for less than 24 hours after the bar exam.  Thank you, God.

It’s been so busy getting situated and re-discovering the ability to have a life outside of school.  I’ve had time to get my hair cut, volunteer at the high school for the band, attend Jazzercise, RSVP for a wedding, stay up late to play cards with my family and watch movies without the burden of having to study hanging over my head.  It’s been awesome!  I missed this stuff!

Things promise to get busier before they slow down…but I’m already planning a vacation.  I deserve it.

A special thank you to the faculty, staff and Alumni Association of Texas Wesleyan Law who showed up on Day 2 and provided a great lunch for all of us bar takers.  Yes, the food was good, but more than anything it was nice to see friendly supportive faces wishing us well at the mid-point of the exam.  As always, you guys never stop taking care of us.  Thanks a million.

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.

8 Weeks Until the Texas Bar Exam

Just when I thought that the Barbri schedule was busy, but do-able; we got into week two.  I was kind of surprised last Sunday when I looked at the plan for the week and realized that even though the lectures dropped from full day to half-day; the work multiplied. I sort of got flash backs to my 1L and 2L years when I was so overbooked that some Sundays I’d wonder if I would make it to Friday.  I reminded myself that I was eating the Elephant one bite at a time and decided that I could handle one day at a time and nothing more.

Me in Barbri Week 2!

So this last week we covered two days of Contracts lectures (approx. 6 hours total) and two days of Property lectures (approx. 9 hours).  Can I just say that it borders on cruel and unusual punishment to have students sit through a 6 hour (Satur)day of Property.  If someone had come in and offered to take me out of there if I agreed to a root canal, I would have given their offer some serious consideration.  The lecturer was alright (although my Prop professor at Texas Wesleyan was WAY more entertaining ) it’s just the subject turns my brain to mush.

We also had one day of a video lecture on the Multistate Performance Test (MPT) which is basically the “lawyering skills” portion of the Texas Bar Exam (TBE) where we’re given a case file and the applicable law and told to do any number of writing exercises from drafting a memo, to a client letter, brief in support of a motion or even open or closing statements in a trial. The MPT is given on the first day of the TBE and accounts for 10% of your total bar exam grade.

What makes the MPT a challenge is that you never know exactly what assignment you’re gonna get (like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates but less fun) and you don’t know the law that will be involved.  Instead, it’s all self-contained in the test booklet for you to read, understand, analyze, apply and draft…in 90 minutes…GO! Yep, it’s the time constraint on this one that is the most problematic.

So I watched the MPT lecture on Thursday, and again on Friday because I didn’t realize the handouts were online.  I decided that I would go back and re-watch the video WITH the handouts and do the work that I couldn’t do on Thursday.  It kind of de-railed my time this week to have to do that twice, but since writing is one of my strengths, the plan I’m working on is hitting the MPT and TBE essays really hard so that I can hopefully clean up on the points.  If I can do that, any extras will help me out on day two of the TBE when I tackle the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE).  (You gotta keep all these acronyms straight if you’re gonna follow me; the TBE has tons of acronyms!!)  If all goes as planned, I’ll be doing lots of practice essays and MPTs over the next 7 weeks and getting my strategy perfected.

That being said, one of our Barbri assignments this week was to complete an MPT from our workbook and turn it in for grading.  Since I was fresh from the MPT video (twice) I went ahead and did the MPT.  I think I did a pretty good job, but we’ll see what the graders have to say.  More on that next time….

I’m still tweaking my whole bar prep experience  (BPE) but this week I added two things that I’m going to be monitoring to see if they help.  First, vitamin B12 which is supposed to help with stress and help keep you from being overly tired.  We’ll see how that works.

Harnessing my Brain Power!

Also, I started listening to some study music with binaural beats which is supposed to be helpful in calming anxiety, clearing your mind to focus and help with deep meditation and study; all things that would be really helpful to me in the next couple of months.  One of the mp3s I have also has subliminal messages (or so they claim):  “I am brilliant; I enjoy learning,” “I am relaxed, alert and aware;” “I absorb information effortlessly,”—well, you get the idea.  I’m not normally one for hokey new-age stuff, but hey, I’ll take whatever help I can get to conquer this beast. I listened to one of the mp3s while writing my MPT and I was so in the zone I didn’t even know the library was closing on Friday!

Mostly though, I just pray.  Today, I got up and went to church and thanked God for the opportunity to have a legal education, and for the gift of being in the position to study and sit for the TBE.  I asked that he just grant me the physical and mental ability to do all I need to do, one day at a time.  That’s all I can really ask for.

This week I logged 50.75 hours.  And tomorrow’s the beginning of another week in paradise!  Oil and Gas is on the schedule first thing in the morning.   Whooohoooo!!!!

Hotel, Motel, Holiday Inn

Today was my first day back after spring break.  I actually felt a smile cross my face as I walked into the building.  It’s funny how nearly 4 years ago I walked into this same building feeling so incredibly out of place and sure I didn’t belong.  And today, TODAY, I walked in and felt a sense  of calm immediately come over me as I was once again in my comfort zone.

After class, I went straight down to the library and once there I took a deep breath, inhaling the scent of musty law books that I know so well.  The guy behind the counter passed me the key to the closet where all my Westlaw goodies are stored and I commented on his shirt that said, “Nerd.”  He admitted that it was true, he is a nerd and I said, “Good that you know who you are.”  What a silly conversation to have, but it made us both smile, so maybe it’s not so silly after all.  A little smiling never hurt anyone.

Well, I didn’t get finished with my outlining as I wanted, but I got a good chunk done.  I have about another 30% to do, so  hopefully I can get it all done by this weekend.  I did manage to get lots of stuff done around the house.  I finally got my dog to the vet and my kids to the doctor for check ups (not in that order).  I shampooed my carpets, cooked and had some girl friends over for cards, dinner and a mean pitcher of Mexican Martinis.  I needed that time to just veg.

I feel like I got a good sign today about the bar exam:

One of my friends and I were in the library this evening (Note that I stayed in the library from 3-8 pm–just couldn’t get enough of that musty book smell, I guess!) and we started talking about booking a hotel for the bar exam.  Many, MANY attorneys that I’ve asked about this have staunchly opined that it is necessary to stay in a hotel during the bar exam.  Something about there’s enough stress going on that week without adding traffic, getting up late, potential flat tires and dead batteries etc. to the mix.  The consensus seems to be:  find a hotel as close to the testing site as possible; spend the money and save yourself the stress.  So, apparently I’m not the only one worried about where I’ll be sleeping (or not sleeping, as the case may be) during hell week in July, because my friend also had been pondering and surfing hotel sites thinking about booking.

Of course, when we start discussing we immediately have to both get online and see what’s out there as far as location and prices.  The July testing site is in prime DFW area and so the prices are steep.  Oh, and let’s add to the mix that the BLE picked a location where there’s lots of  “other” stuff going on in the same vicinity which means competition for hotel rooms from NON-bar takers.   We were debating whether it was worth it to pay 2x as much for a great location or pay half as much for a good location when I thought, “Hmm, I wonder if one of those hotel purchase websites might not have a good deal.”

I’ve never used one of those “buy first, then find out the hotel name” sites, but in this case I thought it didn’t much matter.  Point is, I want location and don’t care (really) where I stay.  So I plugged in my search:  Find hotel near this address for the best price.  Go.

A few seconds later I get what is supposed to be a “4-star” hotel within a 5 mile radius of my designated address for $66 per night.  Hmmm, it looks promising.  I’m still a bit bothered by the fact that I don’t know what I’m booking, but according to the site’s criteria, any of the sample hotel names they classify as “4 star” would work for me.  It helped too that I know the area fairly well and was pretty sure that the mystery hotel was in fact the same one I’d seen for $149 per night.  My friend, encouraged me (Read:  He had me be the guinea pig!) to book it and see what it was, so I did.

Hot damn!  I hit the jackpot!!  It WAS the $149 per night hotel…the one practically ON TOP OF  the testing site…that has free parking for guests…that I have stayed at MANY times and in which I am VERY comfortable… that I will be able to escape to during lunch breaks and eat/study in peace…THAT hotel.  Yep, that’s the one!!  What an awesome deal!!!

I nearly did…ok, I DID do a happy dance right there in the library.  And my friend promptly followed my lead and booked his room too.  He was flabbergasted that we got such a great deal…less than half of what we would have paid through the hotel website.  Multiple high-fives were exchanged.  I sort of felt like we should have also been wearing “Nerd” t-shirts right about then, but what an immense amount of stress off our shoulders to have this settled and booked.    Definitely, definitely suggest getting this done sooner than later.

So the “sign” I was talking about…I guess the way this hotel thing worked out it’s just a positive thing and starts me on this bar journey with a good vibe.  If I can’t be home during probably one of the most stressful weeks of my life, I’ll at least be somewhere comfortable, safe, accessible, familiar and affordable.  Couldn’t ask for more.  What a blessing.

It’s nearly midnight and by the time I post this, it will be Wednesday morning.  I have a big day ahead of me.  I finally get a chance to put my 3L bar card to work.  I will be presenting two cases to the Grand Jury tomorrow and asking them to hand down indictments.  I am excited and nervous, but I’m prepared and so we’ll just see how it goes.

I suppose it’s kind of strange to say that I’ll gauge MY success on whether or not the Grand Jury issues the indictments and the defendants get prosecuted, but given the facts of my cases, I’m unconcerned about their future legal problems.  My job tomorrow is to get them indicted and that’s what I intend to do.

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