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Life Doesn’t Care We’re Studying for the Bar Exam

There’s an old proverb that says, “Man plans and God laughs.” That’s been Rob and my experience with this bar prep.

Reminder: Rob-tastic and I teamed up with Barbri to document and share our stories from studying for the July 2017 California Bar Exam.

My friend, Jeff Moriarty dressed as Jesus to encourage marathon runners. The message works for the bar exam too.
Used with Permission

Conversations with God
If I believed in a traditional all-powerful deity, based on this proverb, I suspect these would be our conversations in recent weeks:

Me: I want to make my life simple so I can put my energy into bar prep.
God: You’re going to get hit by a car, live with daily pain, and have multiple appointments every week with the chiropractor for most of bar prep.

Me: I’m going to work on flash cards during my flights to and from BlogHer in Orlando.
God: You’re going to spend half a flight helping a dad flying with three small boys and one of them will be having ear issues from swimming.
(I have no regrets about this one. Helping a child doubled over in pain trumps studying any day.)

Me: I’m going to get a full-night sleep every night.
God: Your basset hound is going to get colitis so you’ll spend three nights taking her out every few hours plus about six hours taking her to vet and switching her to a cottage cheese, chicken, and white rice diet.
Me: I warned you what would happen if you do anything to Rosie.
God: By the way, your gymnastics coach/maternal figure passed away.
Me: Go fuck yourself.

Yeah . . . bar prep has been more challenging than expected, mostly due to events outside my control. It’s been exhausting couple of days. I spent yesterday working at home so I could work, study, and rest as I needed while sticking close to Rosie.

We got this.

Reminding Friends We’re Not Available
Rob-tastic doesn’t spend much time on Facebook, but he uses it to coordinate activities with friends. After getting several invites to spend time with friends, he felt compelled to send another reminder that while he enjoys spending time with them, he’s not available for fun and shenanigans until August. It’s not personal, he’s just studying.

I’m on Facebook nearly every day, so my friends know what I’m doing on a day-to-day basis. They still invite me to events and parties, but I automatically hit “Can’t Go” if it’s scheduled before the bar exam. I don’t have the time or energy for anything extra right now.

Pulling Back from Lawyer Work
July starts the weekend, and Rob and I are both pulling back from client work. Of course, all of our obligations to current clients will get done, but we’ll be spending more time out of the office to focus on studying. Rob said he wanted to spend whole days out of the office to focus on studying, and I can easily work on a client’s contract from home for a few hours in the morning and then study 7-8 hours during the rest of the day.

My goal is to be out of the office completely after July 7th until after the bar exam. The only thing that I can think of that would compel me to go into the office is if I’m working on a filing for the court. Senior litigator, John Mascari, is co-counsel on all of my cases. When I write a draft for the court, he and I sit down, each with our own copy of the document, and review it line-by-line. It’s easier to do this in person than by phone or email.

Barbri instructor Doug Moll said July starts the “heroin scratch” time of bar prep – meaning, all of us taking a bar exam may be extra agitated. Hopefully Rob-tastic and I can stay the course, focus on locking in the material, without getting to distracted by nerves. If you want to send us good vibes via snail mail, that’s always welcome. Send us postcards at Ruth and Rob, c/o Venjuris P.C., 1938 E. Osborn Rd., Phoenix, AZ 85016.

If you have a friend taking the bar exam, cut them some slack, even when they are an irascible prick. (They’ll bounce back after the bar’s over.) Send them a note to make them smile. It makes a difference. If you want to be a super-friend, and offer to help clean their home or do their laundry. Anything that makes their life a little easier will be deeply appreciated.

Ontario Baby!

While Rob-tastic was in Europe, we found out we were assigned to the same testing center – Ontario, California, baby! We were glad to get confirmation that we’d be taking the bar exam in the same city.

Reminder: Rob-tastic and I teamed up with Barbri to document and share our stories from studying for the July 2017 California Bar Exam.

If Rob and I were driving to Ontario, CA, we’d get to see part of Joshua Tree National Park.
Image by Ken Lund from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Since Rob was out of town, he trusted me to pick out our hotel . . . well, I booked two rooms and he didn’t object when he got back. We’re both good budget travelers and done our fair shares of staying in hostels, but the bar exam is not a time to skimp on comfort (and control, for me).

Rob and I agreed on three things for the hotel: quiet environment, comfortable beds and it had to be within walking distance of the convention center. I had two more requirements: hot breakfast available on-site and our rooms had to have refrigerators (so we could get pick up something for lunch during the bar exam and keep it in our rooms).

By the way: Rob thinks announcing that we’re taking the bar exam in Ontario is going to lead to an impromptu fan meetup – “6 random lawyers and law students coming by” as he put it, hopefully to buy me drinks which he knows I’ll slide across the table to him.

We also agreed we’re flying to/from Ontario. Once the bar exam is done, neither of us will be any shape to drive five hours to get home.

Undeniable’s Turn to Travel
I’m going to the BlogHer Conference in Orlando, Florida this weekend to speak on the legalities of blogging. Looking at the schedule of events, it’s going to be a fantastic event, but bar studying doesn’t take a vacation. I’ll take the lecture handout workbook with me to watch lecture videos in my room and my goal for the flights is to work on my flashcards. I suspect it’s something I can do in my coach seat without bothering my seatmates. I made close to 1,000 flashcards when I studied for the Arizona Bar. I suspect I will make the same amount for this test.

Yay Studying!

Catching Up is Hard to Do
Rob and I are both still trying to catch up on our respective study schedules. He lost time during his travels and I lost a few days while I was bogged down in motion practice. I’m more diligent about watching lectures during breakfast and getting out of the office earlier in the afternoon, but it’s still hard to do all the assignments.

Rob said his biggest challenge lately is not confusing the federal rules and common law with the exception to those rules in California. There’s no easy pattern or system for remember these things. It’s just a matter of memorizing everything – including rules that we will never use in real life. Who gives their property away as a life estate with a vested remainder in fee simple subject to executory interest?

Neither of us are freaking out about all we have to do and learn. There’s over a month to go, and we both know that we will do 100s of hours studying between now and the bar exam.

That’s all for this week. If you have any questions about what we’re doing or how we’re doing, leave it as a comment below. If you want to send us good vibes via snail mail, that’s always welcome – our stress is kicking up – or send us ice cream. (It was 119 degrees in Phoenix this week.) Send us postcards at Ruth and Rob, c/o Venjuris P.C., 1938 E. Osborn Rd., Phoenix, AZ 85016. (If you have a friend taking a bar exam this summer, send them one too. They’ll appreciate the love.)