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July 2017 CA Bar Exam

Life After the Bar Exam

We’re home! It’s so good to be back from the California Bar Exam and getting back to “normal” life . . . slowly.

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 beautiful Rosie dog and the Wall of Pain.

Back to the Grind
Rob and I took Friday and the weekend off, but then we were both back in the office on Monday. We each had at least a week’s worth of emails of non-critical client messages to read. I spent at least an hour re-populating the infamous Wall of Pain in my office with all the tasks I need to do for current and prospective clients.

We’ve been busy since we got back been back. Besides client work, we also get to get back to doing other professional tasks, like networking, writing blog posts, developing new CLEs and other products, and applying for speaking engagements for next year. There were a lot of things I had to put on the back burner while we were studying.

Although we are grateful for Barbri helping us prepare for the California Bar Exam, we hope we never have to read another Barbri book.

So Much Free Time
A few days before the bar exam, I remember looking at Rob and asking, “What did we do before bar prep?” We’d been studying for so long, I’d forgotten what it was like to have evenings and weekends where I wasn’t studying.

Now that we’re done, we have time to see friends, go to the movies, sleep in, and do . . . whatever we want. Rob-tastic is a home brewer, and he said he wants to start two batches of beer and a batch of mead this month, and he said he’s getting back to weightlifting. I signed up to run the Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona marathon in January 2018, so I’m getting back into running.

Oh yeah, and we still have to do Character and Fitness for California.

Cleaning House
One thing we both said we wanted to do when we got home was clean our respective apartments. Rob says his Barbri books are scattered all over his apartment. “It’s hard to go somewhere without being within arm’s reach of one of my books,” he said. We did the bare minimum while we were studying, but now we have time to deep clean our homes. I’ve never had a stronger desire to mop my floor and clean the baseboards. I want dust everything I own.

Mush for Brains
One of the challenges of recovering from the bar exam is sometimes our brains go to mush. Our mental stamina isn’t all the way back yet. When I get home from the office, all I wanted to do was sit on the couch and watch a movie, whereas before bar prep, I’d respond to emails and write blog posts in the evening. Even in the office, I can’t work for hours without a break. This week, I’ve needed more breaks to breathe, take my eyes off my screen and documents, and walk around the office for a few minutes before going back to work. Yesterday, I told my friend my brain felt like scrambled eggs – rubbery and tasteless.

It’s good to be home and getting back to “normal.”

Bar Prep is Scrambling our Brains

One of my best friends is a fellow lawyer, and she’s pregnant with her first child. We had breakfast this week where we decide “pregnancy brain” and “bar brain” are remarkably similar.

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

We still find reasons to smile.

Brain Cramps
Rob and I are so distracted with studying that we suck at remembering mundane things lately. This past Monday, Rob packed is lunch for the office, and promptly left it at home. Likewise, I went to the office and left my cell phone and the power cord for my laptop at home. Later that day, I was giving the senior litigator an update on an ongoing matter. I told him that we granted the opposition an extension to submit their response to our motion, and he asked when our reply would be due. My brain cramped and went completely blank. The only thing I could say was, “Ask Amiee.” (Amiee’s our paralegal who does all of our docketing and sends us weekly reports with due dates for all our pending cases.)

I’m grateful for alarms, email reminders, and Sharpie pens. They make it possible for me to remember anything lately. The night before I had breakfast with my friend, I wrote her name on the back of my hand so when I woke up, I wouldn’t forget our date. I told myself that when I become an adult, I’ll stop writing on my hand.

Every little bit helps.

Study Study Study
Most of our time is devoted to studying right now. We’re staying on top of our client work, but putting off everything that can wait until after the bar exam.

The rule about the bar exam, is you don’t have to get an A. We have to get at least a D-, and it’s a test that’s graded on a curve. All we have to do is pass. Right now, we’re doing what we have to do to pass.

Rob-tastic seems to be focused mostly on the MBE subjects and starting to circle back to the subjects he watched early on in his bar prep. My energy is going into making flash cards. Making and reviewing them are the best way I know to memorize all the rules and tests. I think I’ve made over 700 cards so far. By the time I turn every Barbri outline into flash cards, I suspect I’ll have close to 1,000.

I added an element for positive feedback to my flash card work. When I start working on a new subject, I count the number pages in the outline and put that many pennies on my desk. As I finish each page, I put a penny in a cup. It gives me a feeling of satisfaction each time I toss another penny in and it keeps me motivated to keep going when I’m tired.

Flashes of Creativity
I think my “bar brain” comes with a dash of ADHD. As I’m studying, I’m being hit with fantastic ideas I want to work on after the bar exam, and they’re clear, concrete, actionable thoughts. I don’t know where these ideas are coming from by they are all over the board – the house I’ve decided I’m going to build, a new CLE I want to teach, and a “field trip” un-networking group I want to start are just a few of them. By the time we leave for the bar exam, I’ll probably have a giant Post-it on my wall labeled “After the Bar Exam” to capture all these ideas. (Rob says he’s feeling ADDish too.)

Less than two weeks to go! We’re both looking forward to getting this test behind us. For anyone else who is taking the California Bar Exam, we’ll see you in Ontario.