Overcoming Adversity (Bar Exam or Otherwise)

If you have just completed the bar exam, congratulations! You should take some time to bask in your success and celebrate.

AdversityBut today, I want to talk about another really important topic that may be on the minds of bar studiers and new lawyers out there—handling adversity. It is not unlikely that you now have or will encounter some sort of professional (or personal) adversity in your career. For some, it may be the bar exam itself. For others, it may be the lack of a job in the legal field after passing the bar exam. Or it could be the reality of being unhappy with your job or place in the legal profession. Every one of us will be confronted with some sort of adversity sometime. Really, we can’t avoid adversity. The only thing we can do is decide how to handle it.

Bar Exam Struggles 

A bar exam failure is certainly adversity.  If you have been unsuccessful on the bar exam, it can be a blow to your self-confidence or even your aspirations to become a lawyer.

It is true—struggling with the bar exam is a terrible thing to need to overcome. But you can do it with the right mindset and the dedication to persevere and move forward. Don’t believe me? Check these stories out!

  • The Day I failed the California Bar Exam: In this post a now successful practicing attorney chronicles what it felt like to get bad bar exam news and how he survived. His story is not one of giving up; it is one of moving through the stages of grief to get back on the horse to study again!
  • The Day I failed the New York Bar Exam: In this post another now successful practicing attorney discusses the feelings that came up when she got bad bar exam news from the New York bar. She shares the advice she would give her 24-year-old self struggling to re-group.
  • You Failed the Bar Exam, But You Can Still Become a Great Lawyer: When I talk to folks who are trying to overcome a bar exam failure, many forget just how many fantastic people they know (or they look up to) also struggled with this nasty exam! In my own professional life, I know a number of excellent attorneys who struggled with the bar exam.

But the stories shared in these posts are not really about failure. They are about overcoming adversity. Sure, the folks mentioned in these posts suffered disappointment. But they found the right mindset to empower them to move forward and find success. If you are struggling with the bar exam, you can do the same thing! You just need to deal with your own demons, grieve, and move on!

Job Hunting Struggles 

Now let’s move on to the job hunt. Whether you are still waiting for bar results or already searching for your first job, the current legal marketplace can definitely be a challenge. Overcoming the challenge and deciding what you want to do in your legal career are very important next steps. Checking out Solo Practice University is a great place to start. But also check out these inspirational stories of lawyers working through their challenges and emerging at the other end.

  • When I Hit Rock Bottom as a New Lawyer: In an incredibly honest post, this attorney shares her story of dealing with the staggering reality of being a newly licensed lawyer with no job and $150,000 of debt. Sound familiar? Check out her story of how she turned things around.
  • Catapulting to a Career in Solo Practice: While going through the painful process of awaiting bar exam results, this attorney shares her story of allowing herself to become inspired to create her own solo practice after attending a conference and networking. She is a great example of how you need to get out there and get exposure to the legal community in order to be inspired to take control of your job prospects.
  • We held a Twitter chat a few weeks ago on Handling Adversity as a Young Lawyer. Our participants had lots of great advice for law students and young lawyers starting out. You can check out the transcript here.

Adversity Happens to All of Us—It Is What You Do With It that Is Important! 

Life isn’t easy and there will be many bumps in the road. It is how you handle the bumps that matters (because we can’t avoid all of them). Whether your next challenge is the bar exam or your job hunt, remember you can learn from others who have lived through similar experiences. Doing so can help empower you to get through—and even offer you some worthwhile suggestions. It’s all about being in the right mindset to grow and overcome. No matter what adversity you may currently be facing, I wish you the best of luck as you come out the other side.

How have you handled adversity in your early legal career? Please share your stories in the comments.

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®.

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