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Mission Accomplished!

Things have just moved by in a blur since I got my bar results on Nov.1.  I received my actual bar notice from the Texas Board of Law Examiners (“BLE”) the very next day.  It was a nice fat envelope…sweet!

Inside was an official letter of congratulations from the State Bar of Texas that simultaneously informed me not to forget to pay my:

  • Membership dues ($78 at least for the first 3 yrs. of practice, then it goes up!!!)
  • Occupations tax ($200, but pro-rated to $116.69 for November licensure), and
  • Legal Services fee ($65 and no explanation what this covers.)

Luckily, as a government lawyer, I fall into a statutory exemption category and only have to pay the membership dues.  Whew!  That was a nice surprise.

I also got my bar score from the BLE and a nice letter from the clerk of the Supreme Court of Texas regarding my attorney’s oath and when I should receive my official license (suitable for framing!!).  Since there are currently vacancies on the Court, our licenses are going to be somewhat delayed until later in December.  BUT, assuming we pay all our fees and get sworn in, we are considered licensed and eligible to practice law in Texas right away, even without the paper license.  Awesomeness!!!

My head was swimming and it took me several reads of every letter in the packet to digest it all.  I also found out that within my first year of licensure I have to take my first “official” Minimum Continuing Legal Education (“MCLE”) class on Ethics which is required of all baby lawyers…that’s another $125.  Money, money, money…it’s no wonder lawyers charge so much for their services.

With regard to MCLE I say “official” because as soon as I paid my dues I was able to access my MCLE account where I had already banked 12 hours during the time leading up to the bar exam.  Since new lawyers have 2 years to meet their first 15 hours of MCLE (after two years we need 15 hours per year), I am just a few hours short of being MCLE’d up until 2015.

I don’t know that reality has really and truly set in with me yet.  I am still hoping that I’m not dreaming and that I am in fact DONE.  It is the strangest feeling to be looking forward to Thanksgiving for nothing more than THANKSGIVING.  For the last 4 years my Thanksgiving was spent trying to squeeze studying into every spare moment without totally blowing off my family.  I had a final exam each and every Monday after Thanksgiving all 4 years of law school.  This year I will not only get to fully enjoy the holidays, but I will get to join the black Friday craziness that I’ve had to skip for so long.  Basically, I have my life back.  Oh and I’m now a lawyer, an attorney…ESQUIRE.  What a weird feeling. I smile every time I think about it, but am still in awe of what I accomplished.

Case in point:

I met with a professor the other day that came by the office to review his promotion and tenure file.  When we were done, he got up to leave and, noticing the glass name plate/card holder on my desk said, “Thank you, uh….  What do you call attorneys?  ‘Ms.’ sounds so disrespectful.”  I paused for a moment and confessed, “You know, Professor…since I just got my bar results less than a week ago, I’m still getting used to being an attorney myself, so ‘Ms.’ is just fine.”  He smiled and I smiled and once again I felt that little thrill run up my spine of knowing that yes…I DID IT!!!  I am a TEXAS LAWYER!!!

Me in front of the Texas State Capitol–Austin, TX
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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.

July 2012 TEXAS BAR EXAM

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.

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