Posts tagged ‘bar review’

June 12, 2012

End Radio Silence

Sorry about the radio silence this last week. Life got a little too real over the course of the last week.

Bar review: Ok, now it’s overwhelming. Last week, I was able to stay on top of the outlining, but when you throw in the practice problems and memorization, it all became a little much. Every day is a new body of law, except for the Big 5: torts, property, contracts, civil procedure, and professional responsibility. The Big 5 get a massive two days of attention! I’ve done minimal work the last few days, and have recalibrated  my approach to the bar.

I’ve started setting specific goals for each day, including finishing an outline. I’ve set a goal of mastering the core elements of one body of law, finishing an outline, and doing at least one practice problem. This will ensure that I’m staying on top of what is coming up next, while also reviewing and working through the material I’ve already covered.

This was me last week.

Everything else: I’ve learned that it’s important to maintain my social network. I can’t just disappear. I learned this because I’m one of those people who tends to think about things, over and over, until I “figure it out”. The upside to this is that I typically have very good, deep analysis of whatever it is. The downside is that when I’m thinking about my own emotions, or situations I don’t like, well… And that’s what happened over the last week. It put me in a funk, which is not me. I wasn’t able to focus or concentrate on anything, was becoming very critical of everything around me (including my relationship), and was generally just backsliding into a negative space.

I need to make sure that I’m reaching out to people, talking to them, getting encouragement, but also staying involved. This was really helpful yesterday, because it is a large part of what drew me out of my funk. The Best Friend encouraged me to take a run, which I did. I felt better for it. I also learned that I can’t place all of the burden of supporting me on just one person. It’s natural to me to rely on The Fiancee for support, but she’s got her own problems to deal with now, so she’s less compassionate than she may otherwise be. Family and friends though, that’s where it’s at, let me tell you. Just a few text messages back and forth with The Sister, the Best Friend, and Mom really helped me see more clearly.

On the upside, I have a second job interview tomorrow. If I get the job, then I’ll switch out of the live bar review class, and into the online one. That way, I can study from about 7-2:30, then work from 3-8, then take a run and spend an hour or so reviewing. I’m pretty excited about the position, mostly for two reasons. First, it is way low-key. It is very laid back, and it doesn’t seem like it will be too stressful. Second, it will cover all of my bills and put me a few hundred ahead at the end of each month, despite only working 25 hrs/wk. The job will certainly allow me to keep working after I’ve taken the bar, which is good. I’d be able to pick up another PT job to make full-time wages, and then drop one in favor of some contract legal work once I get my bar results.

So that’s the last week. Now I understand why people say that studying for the bar will really do a number on you. It can, and will overwhelm you. The thing I’ve learned is that it’s important not to just do it on your own – everyone in your social network (including classmates) is someone who can help ease the burden. Just be sure to spread it around, so that no one person gets the brunt of it.

June 2, 2012

I should hate this, right?

I’m just asking because that’s what everyone says. “Worst experience ever.” “Absolutely terrible.” “HELL!!” In varying ways, this is pretty much how bar prep has been summed up by roughly 110% of the people I’ve talked to. I think I can see why; it’s drudgery.

Basically, you just outline all of the rules for a given subject, memorize them, then practice applying them. Same as you would do for a law school exam. Only thing is, it doesn’t really make sense to study with other people; I’m mostly in my head while studying. It’s not really possible to socialize with others while studying, as there is so much new information to take in. And it takes TIME. So much time. As an example, today I gave myself an extra hour and a half of sleep before meeting a classmate to go over practice problems. I’ve been studying ever since, except for an hour and a half where I did laundry, ate, and talked to the Fiancée. I’ve just stopped, and it’s 10 pm. I was up at 7:30.

And yet…I’m psyched to prepare to slay the dragon? This may just be me, or I am missing something entirely. However, I might just enjoy this. And by enjoy, I mean a rather twisted, sick sense of satisfaction is creeping over me. Granted, it’s only day 4. But if I keep working at this rate, I am going to crush this thing. HARD.

After 4 days, I’m about a 1/2 day ahead of the class schedule. According to my schedule, I will finish outlining by mid to late June, at the latest. That means spending about a week of June and three weeks in July focusing solely on practice problems and memorizing. Note, I was never intense about studying during law school. Ever. I generally earned above average grades, but I kept it super casual. Anyways, there’s something about setting an ambitious goal and actually taking steps to achieve it that  makes this enjoyable. Yeah, it does suck as I can’t do anything fun, and I have to focus on passing an exam without which, I can not attain decent paying work. On the other hand, if I’ve got to do this then I’m going to do a great job and try to enjoy it. Otherwise, I won’t do very well.

That being said, in the universe of bar prep, I’m only 10% of the way to my goal. Bugger.

Alternatively, I may have lost it already.

June 1, 2012

And then, bar review began…

Today was my first real day of bar review classes. We had class two days ago. It was an introduction and orientation to the bar review process. The instructor for this week is the owner of the company, an older man named Jim Rigos. He’s a neat old guy, but wicked smart. I’m happy I chose this particular company, because it has a much more personal feel to it. A lot of my former classmates are using BarBri, and while I don’t care for any idea of a rivalry between the two, they have had problems accessing online materials and have to wear a badge to get into their class. Silliness!

Let me tell you though, this is going to be madness.

The only way I can explain the process I’m creating for myself is that it is like studying for a law school final. My preparation consisted of starting with the syllabus as a skeleton for the outline. Then, I would go to the library to get four to five supplements. I would go through the assigned texts and the supplements using the syllabus as my guide, filling in everything case by case and point by point. In the span of 10 to 20 hours, I would have a beast of an outline ready for commitment to memory.

The bar review process is the same. Only, I just have to pull information from one source. But I have to do it 14 13 times (just finished the contracts outline!). To be honest, either I am lying to myself about how difficult this is, or the hype doesn’t match up to what it means to prepare for the bar. Sure, it is still early days and I am enthusiastic about what I’m doing. It sucks but, it doesn’t seem terrible. Yet. Next steps: do practice questions and memorize outline. I have a secret weapon for memorization, which is to record myself reading it slowly. Then, I can listen to the recording while I do flashcards or during a commute. It’s something I started back when I was taking Latin in undergrad, and it’s incredibly effective. I highly recommend it.

That being said, I’m still having difficult finding a job. I found a decent one on Craigslist with a solo practitioner, who actually returned my call. He told me that his major reservation about hiring me is that I’d be looking for an attorney level position once I get my bar results. But he asked me to send over my resume if I am still interested in the position. Considering this is a legal position, I’m all about it. I told him that I’m leaning toward hanging my shingle once I get results back, so he’d have me until my firm was sufficiently established. I did hear back from him after that, and he said he’d get back to me Monday/Tuesday to let me know, since he has a ton of other applicants to wade through. Here’s hoping; I can really use the work.