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Unsolicited Advice

Unsolicited Advice: Don’t Open Your MBE Score

This was my actual MBE score, still in its envelope. I did not open until after I found out I passed the bar exam.

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.

Unsolicited Advice: Think Before You Post

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer.  I am a law student.  In accordance with ABA policy, this blog should not be viewed as legal advice.  It is simply my experiences, opinions, and stuff I looked up on the internet.

Laptop at a Cafe
Image by workshifting via Flickr

Never before has Bill Wilson’s advice, “Nothing pays off like restraint of pen and tongue” been more appropriate.  In the past, we expressed how we felt mainly in-person or via phone calls.  If something was important enough to write about, it took time to draft a letter or write an article.  Now with email and social media sties, we can jump on our proverbial soapboxes whenever the feeling moves us and blast our opinion to the universe from anywhere.  More than ever, it is essential to think before we send an email, update our Facebook status, post a blog, or tweet – because it’s permanent!!!

I will never cease to be amazed by what people say in email or post online.  A quick glance at my friends’ profiles revealed a smattering of pictures of people getting drunk and posts filled with hateful language.  For the most part, these aren’t stupid people, but they have done stupid things – and documented it.  It immediately reminded of what my Dad says: “You can’t coach dumb.”

It seems lately that people need to be reminded that there is a permanent record of every single email they send. Even if you delete all of your “sent items,” they are still backed up on a server somewhere, and probably backed up on the receiver’s server too.  Therefore, “if you are dealing with something that could come back to bite you later, pick up the phone, or better yet, go talk in person, but avoid email.”  Don’t leave a paper trail.

And don’t think that deleting your Facebook account will remove all the evidence of any past wrongdoings you posted.  Deleting your account, doesn’t actually delete it.  It just makes it inaccessible to other users.  It’s still in the database. What’s even more frightening is that I’ve heard a rumor that employers are hiring hackers to tell them what’s on job applicants’ Facebook and Myspace profiles.  Don’t assume that changing your privacy settings will protect you.

Too many people treat email and social media sites like casual conversation, but worse because they ignore the fact that they are writing to and about real people.   The fact that the sender doesn’t have to look the person in the eye seems to lower their inhibitions and remove the filter that ordinary blocks them from saying everything that they think.  The result is abusive behavior and harassment.

Cyberstalking, cyberbullying, and/or cyberharassment are crimes in 41 of the 50 states.  In Arizona, cyberharassment is a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail, and/or a $2500 fine.  Often when the perpetrator is a minor the crime is cyberbullying.  When the perpetrator is an adult, it’s cyberharassment.  The behavior is the same, just different names.  The courts have allowed lawsuits to be filed in criminal and civil court related to these acts.

Here’s my two cents when it comes to electronic communications: if you feel the need to vent when you’re upset about something, the way to do it without getting in trouble is to simply say how you feel about it.  When I say, “I’m frustrated,” no one can say that that’s inappropriate or that it isn’t true.  It’s a feeling, the fact of my mental state.  You may have a different reaction, but neither person is wrong.  It’s how we act on them that gets us into trouble.

So think whatever you want.  Be careful about what you say.  But assume everything you say electronically, regardless of where you post it, is viewable by the general public and will follow you for the rest of your life.  Don’t send anything via email or post anything online that you wouldn’t want your family, friends, co-workers, or employers to see.

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