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Robert McGee

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.”

Final Days of Bar Prep

There’s a light at the end of the tunnel . . . and it’s not an oncoming train!

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

Going to the Bar Exam!

The California Bar Exam is less than a week away. Rob and I have our admission tickets and ExamSoft on our laptops (it’s the software we use for the test that locks us out of the rest of our computer), and I have M&Ms for our flight crews and Jolly Ranchers for test day. (It’s tradition, just got with it.) I also had a custom running shirt made for the bar exam that says “I Beat the Kobayashi Maru.”

(Rob says he doesn’t have any lucky charms, but he carries his ornate pocket knife – not his everyday pocket knife – for things like this. But, of course, we can’t carry weapons onto the airplane or into the bar exam.)

I’ve heard the Ontario Convention Center is historically freezing cold during the bar exam. Since Rob run warm and I don’t, I suspect on test day he’ll be comfortable in jeans and a t-shirt while I’ll be shivering while doing an impression of Kenny from South Park, or at least I would if I were allowed to put the hood up on my Scottevest.

1,000+ Barbri flash cards

Last Days of Studying
At this point, our job is to maximize retention of information. Over the last month, I turned all 15 Barbri lecture outlines into flash cards – over 1,000 of them. Each day, I review several sets of them, trying to lock in as much information as I can. There will be 5 essay questions on the test, and the only topic I can predict will be on there is Professional Responsibility.

Sometimes I like to walk when I review my cards, and since it’s blazing hot in the afternoon in Phoenix, I took my flash cards for a walk at Scottsdale Fashion Square. With earbuds in my ears and my eyes focused on the cards in my hands, no one paid me much mind. The clerk at the Lovesac shop was a bit confused when I walked in, jumped into a Lovesac, muttered through my Evidence cards to myself, and left without saying a word.

Rob-tastic’s reviewing his materials as well. As he goes through practice MBE questions, he said he has to remember to go strictly on the information given, and avoid implying outside information. He’s continuing to go through essay questions as well.

We got this.

We Know Stuff
Even when we’re somewhat overwhelmed by the volume of information we might be tested on, we definitely know stuff. Yesterday, we were easily spit balling back and forth the various rules that are different in California compared to the Federal rules, common law, or the model rules. This is a test where I’m not sure it’s possible to feel completely prepared, but we’re ready to go in and say something effective on every issue. That’s probably the most we can ask of ourselves.

As our Barbri instructors reminded us, we only have to get a D- on a test that’s graded on a curve. We don’t need the highest scores; we just need to pass.

Calling on Higher Powers
Not that I’m not above calling upon divine powers. At least thirty of my friends are actual reverends and pastors or at least ordained online. I’m not a religious person, but I called on all of them to send good vibes. The response was waves of love from officially recognized churches, including Christian, Wiccan, and Pagan, and some I didn’t know existed, including several blessing from The Church of the Dude.

We’ll take all the good vibes we can get. We’ll see you on the flip side!
Good luck to everyone taking a bar exam next week!

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.

Postcards and Flash Cards

Rob-tastic and I are officially in the “heroin scratch” phase of bar prep. Our goals from here until the California Bar Exam are to learn and much as we can about what’s likely to be tested, and lock in our test-taking strategies to maximize the points we earn.

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

I got it right!

Practice, Practice, Practice
We’re lucky that Barbri gave us hundreds of practice multiple choice and essay questions. I particularly appreciate the online multiple choice questions where we can read the explanation about which choice was correct and why the others were wrong right after we submit our answer. Even though I’m exempt from taking the multiple choice portion of the bar exam, this helps me learn the nuances of all the rules. Every time I get a question right, I punch my hands triumphantly in the air.

Barbri gives us a full 6-hour MBE (multiple choice) practice test. Rob’s planning on taking it, but I’m not. He has to take the second day of the test, and since I don’t (thank goodness), my time would better spend focusing on the essay portion of the bar.

Making Flash Cards
Flash cards work for me. Making them by hand and going through them is the best way for me to memorize things. They got me through high school, college, law school, and my first bar exam. When I was studying for my first bar exam, I paced around the house going through my cards. I easily walked a mile a day. I even jumped in the pool and walked around the shallow end going through my flash cards until I learned all the rules for secured transactions. One day I lost my mind and took my flash cards for a walk because my 1,800 square-foot house felt too claustrophobic. I walked for over an hour in 110-degree heat going through the flash cards. I’m sure people thought I was crazy the way I was muttering to myself.

At the beginning of this bar prep, I bought 1,000 index cards. (I made just under 1,000 flash cards for the Arizona Bar.) I suspect I’ll go through them and more this time around. When everyone was enjoying their Independence Day holiday, I wrote over 100 flash cards on all the concepts for real property.

It turns out Rob was also studying real property over the holiday. He came in the office today and said, “No one should own Blackacre. That land is nothing but trouble.”

Sending love and thanks from Arizona

Sending Postcards to our Barbri Instructors
It’s lonely studying for the bar exam. We spend long hours doing practice questions and watching hours of Barbri lectures. With all the stress and hard work that goes into studying for this exam, we appreciate anything in this process that makes smile. Rob-tastic said he laughed when our Corporations instructor, Douglas Moll, started his lecture by saying, “You’re not going to be tested on California law with respect to corporations. You’re going to be tested on majority rule principles. . . . Purge anything you know that’s California specific. That actually won’t help you.” (Yes, we have to know non-California rules for the California Bar Exam. It doesn’t make sense to us either.)

We are grateful to the instructors who make dry topics bearable and complicated topics understandable. Over the weekend, I picked up some Arizona themed postcards to send to our favorite instructors to thank them for helping us through this. As the always-entertaining Chuck Shonholtz says, they’re setting us up to “beat the bar nine ways ’til Sunday.”

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.)

Rob-tastic’s Back!

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

Statue of Anonymous in Hungary
Photo by Rob McGee

After three weeks in Europe and Asia, Rob is back in the States and back in the office. He walked into the office on Monday upbeat and refreshed from his travels with lots of pictures and stories. Rob’s a history buff, and he said that “Hungarian history is about 75% fighting Turks and Germans, and 25% building statues memorializing those wars.”

He told me about the statue of Anonymous in Hungary, created in honor of the unnamed chronicler (or possibly chroniclers) of the earliest Hungarian history. According to local folklore, if you touch his pen, it grants inspiration and writing ability. Of course, Rob touched it. That seems like a good omen heading into a bar exam.

Rob Went on Vacation and all I got was this Shirt
When Rob was at the INTA conference, one of the vendors was making personalized “.Sucks” shirts for attendees. He had them make a “Studying.Sucks” shirt for me. No one studies for a bar exam because it’s fun.

Thanks Rob!

Side note: I don’t think this vendor’s first language was English. Rob’s pretty sure the vendor thought he asked them to make this tiny shirt for him to wear.

We’re Both Behind on Bar Studying
Rob and I have both been dealing with schedules and circumstances that make it difficult to keep up with the demanding Barbri schedule. Rob was traveling with only one Barbri book and relied on mostly online content to help him study.

Rob and I are like yin and yang this week. He’s energized and I’m exhausted. I’m still a few days behind the Barbri schedule, due to obligations to clients and needing to exercise some self-care. Studying for the bar is a marathon and it wouldn’t do me any good to burn out so early on in this process. I’ve had to take some time to get some much needed rest and relaxation. As one of the members of my mastermind group reminds me, “You can’t draw water from an empty well.”

This past weekend, I studied 8-9 hours each day, trying to keep up and catch up and hit the ground running at work on Monday. By Tuesday, I was exhausted again. I’m someone who tends to use mantras to stay focused, but I was so drained on Tuesday, my mantra was “Don’t throw up, don’t pass out.” Thankfully, by Wednesday morning, I had my mojo back and my mantra was, “Hold my beer.” (No, I don’t drink. It’s just a euphemism for “I’ve got this.”)

On the flip side, I’m working like gangbusters on client projects. Right now, due to all my obligations, I’m trying not to take on any new clients except those that fall into one of my niche areas of practice. For other prospective clients who need help from my firm, but not necessarily me, I pass along those calls and emails to a colleague with more available bandwidth.

The one thing that’s become obvious with this round of bar prep is there’s no time to waste. (Self-care is not wasting time.) There’s so much time and so little to do!

Strike that. Reverse it.

Bar Prep Is Officially Stressful

Studying for the bar exam is challenging. Balancing work and studying is brutal.

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

Ruth is Stressed
This is what I posted on Facebook at 8am yesterday morning:

Dear God:

They say you don’t give us more than we can handle. Thank you for your faith in me to handle:
1. A high-stress job,
2. The California Bar Exam,
3. A car accident,
4. Questioning everything about my gender, and
5. A maternal figure [childhood gymnastics coach] with terminal cancer.

My hair was already turning gray without your help. Now, there are times I want to tear it out. [And I’ve shaved my head before.]

If you do anything to Rosie in the next year, I will fucking kill you.

Me

Photo by Roger Griggs

Needless to say, it’s pretty stressful in the Land of Ruth, and that was before the opposition filed an unexpected memo in one of my litigation cases. So, I spent the day writing our objection to that instead of working on the client work I currently have on my plate: drafting a motion for summary judgment, reviewing a client’s contract, drafting a custom contract for a professional creative, and submitting a demand for arbitration.

My day was hijacked. I planned to leave the office by 1pm to keep up on studying, but I didn’t settle in to watch the lecture on civil procedure until 4:45pm. This week will be the first time I’m officially behind on the Barbri schedule. I had to submit an answer for a performance test question (like writing a legal memo) for grading and I took way more than the recommended 90 minutes to do it. I hope I can catch up this weekend.

I got an extra fan for my office to keep me cool while studying. Rosie approves.

One of the challenges of bar prep is there are no days off. I can’t “push through” and do a late night tonight because I’ll set myself up to be too tired to work and study effectively tomorrow. There are no days off, so it’s best to be mindful of diet, exercise, sleep, and avoiding distractions each day.

Speaking of exercise, I miss it. For me, not exercising is not an option, except for times like now when I’m recovering from a car accident that messed up my neck and back. Running gives me the outlet I need to keep my stress in check. During my last bar prep, I ran, rode my bike, or did yoga every day. Thankfully, I’m finally feeling like my body is healing from this accident. I hope my doctor releases me to start jogging again soon.

Rob sent this photo from St. Petersburg. He said it’s the view of an Orthodox church and the Museum of the Battle of Leningrad taken from the café where he was studying.

Rob says Hello from Russia with Love
Rob-tastic is still across the pond, in St. Petersburg, Russia for the last week of his trip. He’s dealing with his own type of stress over there, as he said he hasn’t slept much in a few days because one of his roommates at the hostel, “snored like he was laying down suppressing fire.” He “coffee-zombied” through some studying, but mostly went sightseeing.

One thing Rob and I both noticed this week is that having experience doing litigation makes it easier to understand this subject – especially for Rob because he has experience in both Arizona and Federal Civil Procedure. (I only have experience litigating in state court.) It’s easier for him to differentiate between the two rule sets and understand the corresponding vocabulary.

Civil procedure was challenging for both of us in law school. Having real-life experience to draw from makes studying for this portion of the test less challenging than when we studied for the Arizona 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 – especially as our stress kicks up. 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.)

Long Days of Bar Prep – & Some Fun

One of my contacts at Barbri asked me how I’m managing to study and continue to practice law. The only phrase that came to mind was, “Not gracefully.”

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

Presenting at Phoenix Comicon 2017.
Photo by K Royal, used with permission.

Busy Life of Bar Prep
I’ve never said that I was graceful or eloquent, and it becomes more apparent when I exist in a state of stress. My days are full, and even fuller than I originally expected because a few weeks before I started studying for the bar exam, I was in a car accident. So, instead of having a schedule of client work, studying, and exercise, I have client work, studying, chiropractic appointments, twice daily sessions of icing my back, communications with my attorney, and dealing with daily pain.

My days are long: up at 4:45am to walk and feed the pirate dog, ice my back, and get ready to be at the office by 9am, work until 2pm on client work and upcoming presentations, go to the chiropractor, get home by 3:30/4 to walk and feed the pirate dog, study for the bar exam, ice my back again, and hopefully be in bed by 10pm.

On the days I don’t have the chiropractor, I try to be out of the office by 1pm to do a longer day of studying. It’s comforting when I see that I’m ahead of the schedule set by Barbri. I try to stay about 5% ahead of where they say I should be.

One of my flaws is I’ll push too hard too fast and burn myself out. My tell-tale signs of stress are purple under my eyes from lack of sleep (“black eye syndrome”) and my tongue will have little groove marks along the edge from my teeth. I try to be careful not to stay up too late and whenever I feel stress taking a hold of me, I try to shake it off with a deep breath and think “I got this.”

Meeting the Minions!

Hurray for Phoenix Comicon
Thankfully, I got a respite from studying this past weekend at Phoenix Comicon where I spoke on two panels: Comic Creator Rights and Copyright and Fan Art/Fiction. It was wonderful to see and hug some of my friends, and the people watching was fantastic. There are some talented cosplayers in the Phoenix area. (No, I don’t dress up when I speak.) I was giddy happy when I got to meet the Minions. (Did I mention stress makes me more weird than I usually am?)

This was the last big thing on my calendar until the BlogHer conference in late June. I’ll still see some friends on occasion, but those will be special events for me. (It’s for the best. As I get more stressed, I get less tolerant of crowds, noise, and annoying things.)

Church in Budapest
Photo by Robert McGee, used with permission.

Rob on the Road
Yay Rob’s alive! After a successful INTA conference in Barcelona, Rob-tastic sends his best from Budapest where’s he’s alternating between studying California law and geeking out over the Hungarian architecture. Rob sent me an email and said, “The most difficult part of studying on the road so far is, predictably, the lack of books. Listening to the lectures and taking notes as I go is great, but I’m more of a visual learner than an auditory one. I did bring a book of outlines relevant to California law in particular, so I’m not totally without my preferred medium, but it limits my ability to review the bigger subjects.”

Rob’s doing the attorney’s course with the diagnostic pre-tests that gauge how much you recall from your last bar exam. He said these make it “easier to pinpoint the blank spots in your good subjects, while letting you know what your bad subjects are more efficiently. I dislike admitting when something is difficult for me, or when I don’t know something. It’s a character flaw. These tests don’t care, they’ll tell me exactly what I’m doing wrong with all the loving tenderness of a machine. It works.”

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. 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.)

Getting Ahead on Barbri Studying

Rob-tastic and I teamed up with Barbri to study for the July 2017 California Bar Exam in exchange for sharing our story. He’s taking the attorney’s course and I’m doing the regular version of the course. My Barbri schedule doesn’t have me starting until May 22nd, but I’m busy and I don’t always have time (or mental stamina) to watch 3-6 hours of Barbri videos after a day at the office. Instead, I started early so I have more flexibility with my study schedule.

Her and His Study Schedules – According to Barbri

Two Lawyers – Two Approaches to Barbri
Rob and I have vastly different approaches to our Barbri schedules. I look at my schedule as a guide and recommended order of lectures. When I tweak it, I do things like take 4 days to complete the MBE Immersion instead of 2. I may not do everything on the exact day, but I presume the order was intentional, so I’m following it.

And then there’s Rob. He’s basically ignoring the Barbri schedule and doing topics in the order he wants, and selecting what to study each day based on what seems interesting in the moment. He spent part of the weekend watching the Essay Workshop and reviewing Professional Responsibility. (In case you were wondering, the rule for CA and AZ are the same: You can’t bang your client unless you were banging them before they became your client.)

Time Management with Meal Prep
The other thing Rob and I both did this weekend (completely independent of each other) was meal prep. He made himself a batch of jambalaya and I made myself lentil soup with spinach and a big tray of roasted veggies. It’s so much easier to work long hours and be healthy when you don’t have to worry about preparing food. Often times, I even portion mine out into meals using Tupperware so lunch and dinner are a heat-and-eat process.

Rosie the Pirate Basset Commandeered a Barbri Book

Rob is Hitting the Road
Bon voyage Rob! He’ll be checking in from the road for the next three weeks while he’s over in Europe for the INTA Conference and then going on vacation. Rob promised to send photos from the various coffeeshops when he’s studying.

I asked Rob about his strategy for studying on the road. He said his schedule for INTA is too demanding to allow for any time to effectively study, but he’ll study in Budapest and St. Petersburg. Rob said, due to constraints of space and weight, he’s only taking one of the Barbri books of outlines on this trip, and will rely on the Barbri online materials for everything else. I think that’s a gutsy move – I don’t think I would want to travel without the hardcopy of the lecture handouts. He promised to check in from the road.

So that’s what’s going on in world of Rob-tastic and Undeniable. Thanks for following our journey. If you have any questions about what we’re doing, please leave them below as comments. And head’s up: studying for the bar exam is a bitch, so I suspect in the coming weeks I’m going to ask to get postcards in the mail to give us reasons to smile when where in the thick of studying.