A belated Happy New Year to all of you. Now that we’re a few weeks into 2012, hopefully you’ve all settled into a routine and you’re holding fast to those resolutions you set for yourselves. As a February Bar Exam taker with a full time job I find routine to be crucial. When I studied for the Bar last summer, routine seemed impossible due to a series of life altering events. However, reflecting back on it now – if I had been able to just carve out time each day in the midst of all the trial and trauma I might not be taking this thing for a second time. Now that I have a full time job it would be easy to make excuses once again as to why I don’t have time to nail down and study like I need to. However, if I am to meet my resolution, I need to adapt and overcome to achieve. After reading, researching, and speaking with colleagues and peers on approaching the Bar Exam for a second time, I’ve taken away some tips that I’d like to pass on to those of you similarly situated….(heh bar exam humor for ya)
The easiest way to do something is to be motivated while doing it. What motivates you? My motivation is still and always has been to practice law. Moreover, my motivation is to prove to myself that I am capable of passing the Bar Exam. That motivation makes a little easier to study at night after working twelve hours. It makes me a little bit more adamant about carving out time each day to sit down and really make use of the time that I do have to study. Admittedly, during summer preparation I did waste a lot of time that could have been used to studying. Maybe a little extra time going over Evidence or Civil and Criminal Procedure was the difference between passing and failing. What if I had made studying more of a priority all the times that I chose to put off studying. This time around I don’t want to have to ask myself what if. With the proper motivation, it is said that a person can achieve anything he sets his mind to. Again, I ask, what motivates you?
Have you ever tried to complete a job without the right tools? You may still be able to get it done but often times it requires double the time and effort required. Bar preparation is no different. I am not paid by any commercial bar program nor do I advocate one over the other, but I do know this. You need the right tools to succeed and bar courses can provide you with them. Odds are you have probably marked up all your old books, done most of the questions in them and won’t take the time to go back through the notes and outlines thoroughly. Most of the things I read about taking the Bar Exam a second time all said the same thing. Approach the exam as if you were taking it for the first time (again). The logic is simple, if you only focus on the subjects that you did poorly on the first time, then odds are the subjects you neglected will suffer drastically. Make sure you have the right tools for the job.
As a sports enthusiast I tend to watch a lot documentaries on various world class athletes. One constant among them is that they all found a routine that worked for them and committed to it religiously. Bar Prep is no different. Perhaps the first time around you had the right formula for success but just didn’t follow it like you should have. Or maybe you were just studying in a way that wasn’t effective as you had previously thought. One of my favorite movie series, Rocky, is case on point for what I’m talking about. Remember in Rocky III when he lost the title to Mr. T’s character, Clubber Lang?
He lost because as his trainer, Mickey, stated he had gotten soft, didn’t train hard enough, and didn’t want it bad enough.
After losing, Rocky goes out and recruits his old nemesis, Apollo Creed, to help him train. Everything Apollo had Rocky do was completely different from the way that Rocky had always trained. Sometimes you have to change it up, but when you do, make sure you fully commit to it (remember Stallone whining that he couldn’t do it, that he was afraid to change?). Once Rocky made up his mind to commit to training the way Apollo wanted him to we got a typical montage of Rocky working up a sweat and doing work and I hate the spoil the movie for you, but guess what…he won!
Is it a little cheesy to draw a Rocky parallel to taking the Bar Exam a second time? Perhaps, but it illustrates the point I’m trying to make. Rocky lost because he didn’t train like he should have and he got popped in the mouth by an opponent that caught him off guard. With the right motivation (the eye of the tiger), the right resources, (Apollo Creed) and the right routine (speed and footwork over strength training) he was able to come back and knock it out the second time. Keep motivated, make sure you have the right resources, and commit to a routine whole heartedly. I can’t guarantee that you or I will pass the Bar by doing this, but I do know that I won’t be asking myself “what if” if I should fail again. Do everything you can to get it right this round.
All opinions, advice, and experiences of guest bloggers/columnists are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions, practices or experiences of Solo Practice University®.