You have just finished what is likely the biggest and most challenging test in your academic career. Congratulations! Your fate is now out of your hands and in the hands of the graders.
So what should you do now?
Take some serious time off to recuperate from this ordeal. This can be in the form of a bar trip or something less extreme (and expensive) such as catching up with friends and family whom you haven’t seen most of the summer. Or it can be something as simple as making dinner for your significant other (who likely had a bit of a hard time while you were studying as well). Go to the park. Get a massage. Do whatever makes you feel relaxed and more “normal.” Enjoy the moment you finished the marathon that is the bar exam.
Pack up your bar materials.
It is important that you cleanse your home or office of study materials. Having them loitering around is only going to make you more anxious. I especially recommend this if you are leaving for a bar trip. I was gone for five weeks after the bar exam and when I got home, all my books and outlines were still piled around my desk in my apartment. Not what I wanted to welcome me home after my trip! So pack them up and put them away right now as soon as you are done reading this post. You have no reason to think about these materials again until bar results come out.
And actually put them away! Don’t just place them in the corner, AWAY! I have bar review books all over my office, but I do this professionally. Most of you don’t have that excuse!
Also, it is important to remember that many commercial bar programs return a deposit to you if you return your books. If this is the case for your prep program, make sure you organize everything in a box so you can get that deposit back after results are out.
But don’t destroy everything; just pack things up. I have worked with students who were so sure they passed that they literally threw out everything, outlines, flash cards, books. Please don’t do that. If you something happens and you have to study for this test again, you don’t want to be starting from scratch with materials.
Keep calm and carry on.
After the bar trip (or hours of TV watching on the couch) and you are feeling like yourself again, it is likely going to be time for you to start a new job, start on your job hunt, or on your own venture (this post is on Solo Practice University, right?).
As you start your next chapter, it is key to try to manage the anxiety around waiting for bar exam results.
How do you do this? Well, let’s take a moment to talk about the worst-case scenario. The worst-case scenario is that you would fail. And I hope you don’t, but if you do, life will go on. Even if you are in the situation where you may lose your job if you don’t pass, life will still go on. Most of my tutoring students have already lived through at least one bar failure. And although I don’t wish that experience on anyone, it is not the end of the world. It is not a reflection of how smart you are (I know a lot of smart people who have failed the bar) or a reflection of how good an attorney you will be. It is a reflection of what happened on one test over a few days of your life. I don’t want you to have to live through it again, but if you do, it will be okay.
I will tell you personally what helped me wait, I promised myself that no matter what I would take that test again. No questions asked. And although I was still anxious and waiting was difficult, that decision made it a bit easier. That was the worst-case scenario. And it wasn’t so bad.
It is also important not to let waiting become a force in your life over the next few months (and depending on the jurisdiction, the wait can be really long, as in almost four months for California).
If you are lucky enough to be employed, it is important not to dwell on your pending bar results at work. Remember that every attorney has lived through the same experience. They know how hard it is to wait for results. Don’t let anxiety get you off on the wrong foot. Just put the exam behind you and enjoy your job (and getting paid) as much as you can!
If you are one of the many who are turning their attention to a job hunt or solo venture, make sure you are spending your time getting things in order so that once the bar license is in your hand, you can get started with the next chapter of your career immediately. I would encourage you to do things like take part in informational interviewing. You can also work on your online presence by getting on Twitter and cleaning up your online paper trail. And don’t forget about those law school loans. You may want to check out your loan repayment options, depending on your employment situation. Try to make a list of all the things you want to get done before the bar results come out—and get cracking! This doesn’t have to be a time of frustration and waiting; it can and most suredly should be a time of action.
No matter what the outcome, you accomplished something great. Enjoy this moment. The grades will fall where they may, but you can be proud that you gave it your best and have a good shot at passing!
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®.