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March, 2012:

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.

Top 10 Tips for LexThink.1 from Ignite Phoenix

Stephanie Horn at Ignite Phoenix #7 by MoLo_trash

Ignite Phoenix is one of the best events I’ve ever participated in. Each Ignite features a series of presenters and each one has 5 minutes and 20 PowerPoint slides that advance every 15 seconds to share one of their passions. LexThink.1 is based on Ignite, except each presenter gets 6 minutes and 20 slides that advance every 18 seconds.

I’ve been involved with Ignite Phoenix for over two years, and it’s been one of the best experiences of my life. I had the pleasure of speaking at Ignite Phoenix #5, and I’ve volunteered at eight other Ignite Phoenix events. My usual volunteer role is assistant stage managing. I help wrangle and orient the presenters before the show and make sure the presenters are on the stage at the right time with the right microphone attached to their body.

Here are my top 10 tips for presenting in an Ignite-style format.

1.  Wear Clothes that Accommodate the Microphone: Wear an outfit that has a structured shirt that can handle having a microphone clipped to it. Wear pants or a skirt so there’s a waistband or back pockets to attach the transmitter to. At one Ignite event, we had a presenter wear a dress. I had to go up the back of her dress and clip the transmitter to her bra.

2.  Limit your Message: When you’re watching the clock, 18 seconds seems like a long time, but it’s not when you’re speaking. I recently watched one of my favorite Ignite Phoenix presentations. On average, he said 3-4 sentences per slide. Don’t try to say more than that.

3.  Use Awesome Pictures: Your voice provides the words of your message. Your slides should enhance it, not simply repeat it. Choose interesting photos that embody the message or emotion behind your verbal message. Don’t use bulleted lists and avoid superfluous words. Seth Godin recommends using 6 words or less on each slide.

4.  Have Permission to use every Image: Make sure you own or have permission to use every image in your presentation. Select images that have Creative Commons licenses that allow you commercialize and modify the original work.

5.  Allow Time for Laughter when you have Hilarious Pictures, Stories, or Ideas.

6.  Memorize your Presentation: You don’t have to memorize your presentation word-for-word, but you should not need notes on stage. Your slides should be a sufficient guide. One of the worst Ignite presentations I ever saw was one where the presenter read his entire presentation off his phone.

7.  Practice, Practice, Practice:  You cannot practice your presentation enough. Go through it multiple times per day, out loud, with the slides set to advance every 18 seconds. There is no other way to get comfortable presenting in the Ignite format.

8.  Turn Off your Phone: You don’t want your phone to ring during your presentation. You don’t even want you phone in your back pocket set on vibrate because you may have friends who are evil enough to call you while you’re presenting just to see the look on your face when your butt starts vibrating.

9.  Have Fun: Ignite Phoenix has one of the best audiences to present in front of. They are so supportive and excited for each presenter. I hope the LexThink.1 audience is the same.

10.  I purposely left tip #10 blank. Dozens of people have graced the Ignite Phoenix, Ignite Phoenix After Hours, and Ignite Food stage. If you have presented at any Ignite event, in Phoenix or elsewhere, please leave a comment with what you think the tenth tip should be.

I’m very excited to present at LexThink.1. See you in Chicago!

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Verizon Forgets Women’s Needs

Classic Pin-up Pose with Cell Phone by Frank Kovalchek

I have been with Verizon for as long as I’ve had a cell phone. They provide great service. I have reception almost everywhere I go. However, I was disappointed when I went shopping for a new phone last week.

My first smartphone was the LG Ally. It was simple, and it worked for my needs. I didn’t need or want a super fancy phone. I needed a phone that allowed me to make calls, check email, and update Twitter. The LG Ally fit my needs, it was small enough to fit in my hand and in the front my pocket of my jeans, and I preferred the pop-out keyboard to the touch screen. It was a good phone until I added Google+ and my phone ran out of space. It was time to update.

I walked into my Verizon store, held up my phone, and basically said, “I need this with more space.” I was disappointed to learn that Verizon’s current phone selection does not cater to women’s needs. I walked out of there with a new LG phone, but it’s not a phone that was made for me.

For one, my new phone is too big for my child-size hand. I used to be able to use my phone one-handed, but that’s a thing of the past. It’s obvious the people who designed my phone did not try it out on small-framed women.

I learned that one the reasons why my phone is so big is because it has a bigger screen to better accommodate the touchscreen. Verizon had few phones that had a pop-out keyboard. I was frustrated that the clerk who was helping me failed to mention that I didn’t have this feature until he had run my credit card. Apparently, “I need this with more space,” only meant “I need a phone” to him. The upside to not having a pop-out keyboard is my new phone has few moving parts so it will be harder for me to break it and it can have protective rubber cover. So far, I’m not thrilled about using the touchscreen and I hate autocorrect.

I told the clerk that I needed a phone that would fit in my pocket. He said his phone fit in his pocket. I had to remind him that there’s a big difference in the amount of space guys get for their pockets compared to women. Women’s pants have micro-pockets, if they have pockets at all. My clerk pointed to my bag and said, “It’ll fit in there.” What about when I don’t want to carry a bag? My new phone only fits in my back pocket so I’m good as long as I don’t sit down.

My grateful Verizon gives me two weeks to try out a new phone. I may take it back and see if they have something better suited for women…but I’m not holding my breath. I thought I was being petty about my phone until I shared my concerns with other women and they exasperatedly agreed that their phones weren’t made for them either.

If any woman has a phone that fits in her hand and her front pocket comfortably, please let me know what it is. I’d be interested in trying it out.

Let 3Ls Take the Arizona Bar Exam

Arizona State University

I saw an awesome story last week – the deans of the law schools at Arizona State University, University of Arizona, and Phoenix School of Law petitioned the Arizona Supreme Court to allow 3Ls to take the February bar exam before they graduate. I think it’s a brilliant idea.

If 3Ls can take the bar exam, they will be admitted to practice so much faster. This was my 3L year and admission to the Arizona Bar:

  • Mid-August – Mid-December: Fall Semester
  • Mid-December – Mid-January: Winter Break
  • Mid-January – April: Spring Semester
  • May – July: Study for & Take the Bar Exam
  • July – September: Wait
  • Early October: Results Out – I passed!
  • November: Recommended for admission to the Arizona Bar (I had to track down a few documents for character and fitness)
  • December: Admitted to the Arizona Bar
  • Total Time: ~15.5 months
University of Arizona

Image via Wikipedia

Here’s how it would work if 3Ls can take the February exam:

  • Mid-August – Mid-December: Fall Semester
  • Mid-December – February: Study for & Take the Bar Exam
  • March – April: Special Condensed Spring Semester – Focusing on Preparing to Practice Law
  • Early May: Results Out
  • Late May or June: Admitted to the Arizona Bar
  • Total Time: ~10 months

When I first heard about this program, I had some concerns, but they were put to rest when I heard that students wouldn’t be allowed to take classes while studying for the bar exam and they will probably have to prove that they’re registered for and have a plan for studying for the bar exam. They also will have to demonstrate that they’re on track to graduate the following May.

Phoenix School of Law

Image via Wikipedia

Taking the bar exam during 3L would be a brutal workload, but a disciplined motivated student could do it. It would suck to fail the February bar exam and turn around and study for the July test. On the flip side, if students pass, they could work in the legal field, take another state’s bar exam, work another job, or relax and travel starting in the summer after finishing law school.

The biggest downside I see to this proposition is that it will be harder for law students to take all the electives they want during school, especially courses that are only offered once every other year, but that can be at least somewhat remedied with an independent study.

I hope the Arizona Supreme Court allows 3Ls to take the February bar exam, at least on a trial basis. The Supreme Court is taking comments on the proposal until May 21st if you want to share your thoughts on this idea.

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