Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Bar Exam Is Over!

Annnnd we're back. The Bar Exam is over and I have taken enough of a break. Job search is beginning in earnest, but I might as well spend the rest of my time writing, eh?

For those interested: the WA Bar Exam was the single most unpleasant, difficult, and otherwise horrible test it has ever been my displeasure to take. That said, I'm certain that I didn't totally fail. Not that I passed, just that I didn't totally, epically fail. I answered all the questions, didn't get hideously stumped by anything, wrote in something resembling the King's English. Hopefully that's enough.

The format is two days of nine questions each, then a final 1/3 day of six questions. You have three 2 hour and 15 minute blocks with short breaks in-between, so it works out to about 45 minutes a question. The final day is six ethics questions in one block, so 22 minutes a question. Unlike any other Bar exam (to my knowledge) WA's is all essay and has no multistate portions. If you count them that's 24 essays.

So to practice I wrote out at least two practice essays for each possible topic, so about 50 essays. The Bar gives out sample answers that it considers 'adequate' to previous years' questions. They are generally ok, but sometimes misstate the law, confuse the parties, or have weird grammar mistakes. When you read these, sometimes it looks like a retarded monkey was jamming away on a typewriter. Also he was sleep deprived. Also there was no 'L' key. Also he was simultaneously being launched into space. So when you compare your fresh, bright-eyed, calmly typed answer it's like "Hey, no problem! I am going to dominate this test. Dominate."

Then you do six back-to-back essays to practice the equivalent of 2/3 of one day of the Bar. By then end you're typing:
"And um, P should sue D because, um, D is a Bad Man. That thing he did was illegal. Seriously, I'm pretty sure about that. Yep. And I should know, I'm a lawyer. It was that tort that begins with a P. Or was it an S? I need a banana..."
So it becomes this shotgun approach, because the test awards breadth of knowledge, not depth. You cannot possibly remember everything in enough detail, and if you could you'd run out of space and time. It's about finding just the right amount of vagueness, so that you're not misstating the law, indeed, you're implying that you could say more, but not understating it either. You start prepping and spewing this fire hose of boilerplate and hope that gets you to a 5. Then you try to carefully apply a bit of it to the facts in the question for a 6. Then you remember one weird twist in the law, or that one exception, and there's your 7th point and you're passing. Good job! 23 more to go.

During the breaks you try to remember the subjects you just spent two hours writing about and for some reason it is difficult! Durrrr, brain no function well sleep without. Eventually you start to winnow down the subjects and refresh yourself on the remaining ones. So, lets say you never had any real instruction in Law School on UCC Article 2 Sales? You study it like crazy. CivPro isn't hard but there are lots of exceptions and time periods, lets study that some more. Indian Law? Completely new to me. Now go, frantically refresh, you've got 15 more minutes. Then at the end it's: Oh! Exam's over and those subjects weren't tested... psyche! Haha thanks for playing.

And during the break you start to analyze your answers and you see all the places where you missed something. When you wrote "Prescriptive Easement" did you really write "proscriptive"? "Perscriptive?" Wait, did I remember to discuss damages? D'oh! and so on. By the time I got home my brain was pure cottage cheese. In a blender. With bananas.

So I kept thinking of this scene in Billy Madison:
Mr. Madison, what you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.
Yep. May God have mercy on my soul. We'll know for sure in October, I'm sure it will be fine.


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