Thursday, August 06, 2009

The Bar Report

Where to begin?

It has been a week since I finished the bar. I think that calls for a a.....wait for!

OK, so, the bar experience was a mix of fear, excitement, and facing the unknown in what was the culmination of a four-year educational experience. The first day I was excited, somewhat nervous, and ready to go. There were about 500 of us, most in a large conference room, packed nearly on top of each other at row after row of long tables with barely enough room for our laptops and testing materials. There were four (?) large air conditioning units that had been installed especially for our event. They were blowing out blissfully cool air....for a while.

Most of us arrived at least an hour early for check in. Waiting was hard. It was already about 80+ degrees outside, so wandering around outside in search of fresh air was all but pointless. Still, everyone had their own method of coping at that point - talking, joking around, remaining totally silent at their spot, wandering, smoking....let me say, never has smoking seemed so appealing. I did a bit of everything...mostly walking, and talking with a few friends, and people nearby whom I had just met. I remembered to breathe deeply, and shared the advice with a friend desperate for any advice on coping.

One former classmate was mostly concentrating on keeping his breakfast down. I felt really bad for him.

The morning went well, and by lunch, I think most of us were feeling pretty good. The performance exam and one set of essays were done. I was happy to have had lots to say, and felt like I was doing well. Our career and alumni services hosted a lunch at a nearby restaurant. That was nice, and a chance to chat with friends about their plans for the rest of the summer.

By afternoon, the room had gotten HOT. Lots of people were complaining. I had made the unfortunate decision not to change into my shorts that I had brought with me even though I had gone to my car where I could have gotten them (see previous melted bottle picture). Truthfully, there would not have been much time though, and the bathroom lines were insane! Fortunately, I was so focused, and somehow, by the grace of god, remained pretty cool most of that day. I noticed by the last 45 minutes so so, that it was pretty hot. Still, I made it through and by the end of that day I was feeling GREAT! Day One Down!!

I had gotten two of my least favored topic areas - Partnerships and Tax - and had managed to remember enough to answer the questions and meet my character limits. I may not have aced every one, but certainly felt at least minimally competent.

Then came Day Two. Let me say that "minimally competent" felt like the theme for this day. That and HOT. No - HOT. We started the day at 8:00am at 82 degrees in the conference room. This was multiple choice question day (MBE). 100 questions in three hours. Lunch. 100 more questions.

I had done a lot of practice tests. I had been scoring well. I thought I would feel better about this part. At the end of three hours I was left feeling SO DONE that I was not sure how I would be able to come back and do more after lunch. I had no idea how I was doing. I was pretty sure if I had to read another property question I was going to scream, which would surely get me kicked out of the test.

Lunch was a much more somber experience this day. We all looked and felt pretty beat up. It was somewhere over 90 degrees outside, but I did not hear how much over. I knew we were heading for 107, which I later found out we reached.

I ate lunch. I took deep breaths in the shade near the pool. I put some Emergen-C in a cup of ice water and enjoyed the cool tartness as it cooled off my insides. About 1:30 we started the final section of the Bar Exam.

The final section.....three more hours and that was it. The end of four long years. Excitement and fear blended with the heat. I realized within moments just how hot it was. We were easily above 90 degrees in the conference room. I seriously considered that there might be people passing out or throwing up from heat exhaustion. Focus. OK - Fifi wants to kill her husband (intent) and gets her boyfriend to bring his gun (conspiracy), they drive over with the gun (this is a significant step if that is important)....I plan on going to get ice water when I get to question 18. I am so hot that it is difficult to focus, but I make myself visualize what is happening in each hypothetical. I haven't come this far to blow it because of the damn heat. Question 18 - and I am right near the ice water and the bathrooms. Excellent!

I eat ice through the rest of the exam, which works to keep me cool enough to finish - thank God!

At the end, I have no clue how I did. At some points, I felt eerily confident about the answers. The blessings of the many friends, and even strangers, praying for clarity for me? If so, I'll take it! Some questions, I struggled over, and finally saw the nuance that made the difference - I think. Some questions - guess and go.

Then it was over.
A friend and I exchanged relieved high fives, words of "thank god it is over," and danced around the fact it - the big IT - the whole law school experience was really over. I think we were both dazed. I know I was exhausted and sad that I didn't feel better than I did. We'd been warned we would feel terrible and have no idea how we'd done. That was exactly right.

Results will not be out until September 25th. Torture.

I have a lot of post-bar thoughts to share, but for now, will just say, "Congrats" to all my fellow bar-takers. Funny - it doesn't feel much like "congrats" in this strange limbo that we are in - but I suppose it is.

Also - to my friends and family who helped me through this insanity, thank you. You all deserve a special post of your own. The bar creates its own special kind of craziness - and those closest to us bar-takers get the disease spread over them like an air-borne virus. Hmmm....I'm smiling to myself....pleased with my analogy. Hope you are, too.


Anonymous said...

We are so happy for you and the family that it is finally over!

We know you will do fine but the waiting I'm sure will be almost as bad as the studying.

You survived the bar and the heat, you are one strong woman.

No go enjoy the rest of your life.

Lots of love,

Lynn and Diana

Dakota said...

Lynn and Diana -
Thank you, my friends. Enjoy is exactly what I want to do!

Heather said...

I know the waiting is gogin to be hard but now you can enjoy the family.

blur_ said...

I was a little sad that I didn't know anyone at my bar exam site - I was thinking it would have been nice to see the old crowd together one last time. But, I think I will instead be grateful that my testing center was a reasonable temperature!

Dakota said...

Blur - The whole thing was a little sad. It was nice seeing familiar faces, though I actually ended up talking just as much to people around me that I had never even met.