I wrote most of these posts with law students in mind, but the information works for any young professional who wants to network effectively and stand out in their professional community.
I hope these have been helpful!
…and the Ruth shall set you free!
I’m not going to sugar coat it: the bar exam is hard. Studying for the bar exam can be brutal. But you can kick its ass and pass it. Here are the post I wrote about the bar exam during my experience before and after the July 2011 Arizona Bar Exam.
If a bar exam is in your future, good luck and stick to your study program. I know it’s hard, but you’ll be fine.
My law school experience was pretty well documented via this blog. These are the posts where I share what worked for me and the tips I wish I’d known sooner in my law school career.
I hope the wisdom I gleaned from my law school experience helps make your life in law school a little easier.
When you’re accepted to law school, you can expect to obtain an incredible education, have the opportunity to meet phenomenal people, and take on a mountain of debt. No one tells you about the other benefits that come with being a law student.
New Glasses: Don’t waste your money and get Lasik right before starting law school. If you don’t wear glasses when you start law school, you’ll have them when you finish. If you’re already a four-eyes when you start, you’ll have a stronger prescription by graduation day. I had to get new glasses twice in law school.
New Wardrobe: It seemed like everyone in my class either lost 10 pounds during law school or gained 15 pounds or more depending on what happened to our appetites when we got stressed. I think every law school should do an annual suit exchange for students need a bigger or smaller suit and donate whatever’s left to charity. Whatever size you were when you started law school will not be your size by the time you graduate.
Night Guard: I promise you’re going to be stressed out. Some of you might start grinding your teeth in your sleep. Your dentist might recommend a $500 custom night guard. I opted to get a Sleep Right night guard instead. It cost less than 90% of what a custom-fit guard costs and works just as well. Don’t bother with the over-the-counter night guard that you boil and mold to your teeth. If you’re like me, you’ll bite through it within weeks.
Dorky Rolling Bag: You might think these bags are super dorky. I did when I first started law school. I was perfectly happy lugging my books and laptop around in my backpack . . . until I was in a car accident. And then I couldn’t carry my books on my back. I swallowed my pride and bought a rolling bag – and it’s great. It’s a bit bulky, but it made dragging around two books, my laptop, and almost everything else I needed in a day much easier. If you’re going to get one of these bags, look for function over fashion. Some of my classmates got really cute bags, but they barely held anything.
New Signature: I don’t know when it happened but law school ate my signature. I can sign things with my old signature if I really think about it, but otherwise it’s a squiggle at best.
I asked some of my legal eagle friends what unexpected benefits they got from law schools. Here’s what they said:
What about you? What were some of the unexpected “benefits” that you got during law school?
Recently, I was contacted by a law student at Arizona State University. She and her friends noticed that all the winners of the Oplinger Closing Argument Competition since at least 2005 have all been tall, thin/muscular, white males. She asked me to share my thoughts on this phenomenon.
To be fair, I must disclose that the majority of people who participate in this competition are men, so based on pure numbers, it’s more likely that a man will win. It raised a red flag for me when I heard that all the judges in the finals for this year’s competition were white men. It made me wonder if the judges picked the best performer or if they were biased towards individuals who looked and sounded like them.
There is a general bias towards tall white men in our society. NPR reports that women make 77 cents on the dollar compared to their male counterparts and obese women make 12% less than thinner women. The shoe lift industry is thriving because taller people generally hold higher status jobs and are assumed to be more intelligent.
I have to be mindful of my own bias. If you look at my professional rolodex, the majority of my contacts are men. In my defense, I generally lean towards people who are leaders, low-drama, sci-fi geeks, and improv performers. This leads to having a lot more men in my sandbox than women. But, when it comes to picking a professional where gender is irrelevant, like a dentist or an accountant, I need to make sure don’t automatically pick a man.
In thinking about gender bias, I was reminded of a trial I watched during my summer with the Army JAG. The prosecuting attorney was a woman who was maybe 5 feet tall and 110 pounds. The defense attorney, Eric Mayer, towered over her at 6+ feet tall with broad shoulders, a chiseled jaw, and a stance that oozed confidence. I was completely intimidated by him. Both attorneys put on good cases and the defendant was ultimately convicted, but if you didn’t hear the case and only saw a snapshot of the courtroom, most people would suspect that the defense was going to win.
As professional speakers, men have an advantage. It’s easier for them to command a room because they generally take up more space and have deeper voices. They are socialized to be more assertive than women. Conversely, women are socialized to be nice. They take up less space, especially when they’re teetering on heels, and their professional appearance requires them to be attractive, but not too pretty or sexy. They generally use more qualifying statements and smile at inappropriate times.
Some women face an uphill battle when they want to establish themselves as professionals. Women have to be more mindful of how they talk compared to men. Everyone has an upper and lower voice. Most men speak in their lower voice; women have a tendency to speak in their upper voice. This makes them sounds more child-like and less professional. Women who up-talk are worse. If you up-talk, I will tune you out because the sound of your voice annoys me.
And women need to figure out how their boobs factor into their professional appearance. Big boobs can get you free drinks, but they can be a hindrance to moving up the corporate ladder as many people associate bigger breasts with lower intelligence or being less professionally focused. I’m very grateful I pass the pencil test.
Unfortunately, gender bias will not go away overnight, and I encourage everyone – men and women – to confront it when it occurs. According to my source, a judge at the Oplinger competition told one of the women that she was “too aggressive for a female.” Another female competitor reported that a judge told her that he docked points because she didn’t wear a skirt. I hope both those women told those judges to fuck off.
It’s been about a month since the February 2012 Bar Exam. That means some people will be getting their multistate bar exam (MBE) results in the mail soon. My advice is do not open this envelope!
The MBE is the multiple choice section of the bar exam. Each state determines how much weight it will give to the multiple choice, essay, and performance test sections of their bar exam. In Arizona, the MBE counts for 50% of your score. It is still possible to fail the bar exam regardless of your MBE score. For some, learning that their score was above average on the MBE allows them to breathe a sigh of relief.
Arizona sends out MBE scores 5 weeks after the bar exam and posts the list of who passed 10 weeks after the bar exam. Do you want to find out that you’re in the lower half and have to wait another 5 weeks to see if your essay and performance test scores are high enough to give you a passing score?
If you get your MBE score before you find out if you passed the bar, I recommend that you take the unopened envelope, shove it in a drawer, and forget about it. That’s what I did, and I was a lot less stressed as a result. Opening the envelope would have increased my anxiety because it would have made me think more about my bar results and would have freaked me out if I was below the average.
My job was done when I turned my test in. There was nothing more I could do. Thinking about the results was not going to change anything. After I learned I passed the bar, I did open my MBE envelope and saw that I performed above average. I still think I was less stressed and detached by not knowing any part of my score in advance. (I generally don’t talk about grades, but I thought I’d pre-answer this question.)
Making the commitment not to open my score was probably easier for me than most people because I didn’t look at my law school grades for my last 2.5 years of law school. I still don’t know how I did in law school except that I passed every class.
I made an offer to a friend of mine today who took the February Bar Exam. I told her if she didn’t want to see her MBE score when it arrives and she didn’t trust herself not to open it, she could give it to me and I would hold onto it for her.
I’d like to extend that offer to anyone who took the February 2012 Bar Exam or who is taking the July 2012 Bar Exam. If you don’t want to see your MBE score, but you don’t trust yourself to resist the temptation to look, feel free to give or send it to me. I will hold onto it for you until you tell me to return it. Send me an email if you’re interested.