Last Tuesday and Wednesday, I joined several hundred other budding lawyers in Roanoke, Virginia. We sat through 12 hours of examinations, and I think everyone survived. I’m not sure that I know anything about the law, but I learned some good lessons about life.
1. Sneakers don’t go with a suit
Virginia is definitely stuck in the past. We all had to wear suits for both days of the exam. But to keep the noise down on the hard floor, we had to wear soft-soled shoes. For most people, this meant sneakers. Needless to say, we weren’t there for a fashion show.
Brooks Brothers + Nike = ridiculous
2. Always test your equipment
A lady from the Board of Bar Examiners sent an email to us, with some FAQs about using our laptops for the exam. We had to install special software, so it took a little learning. I followed the instructions, tested twice, and everything worked without a hitch.
However, some people didn’t even do a test run with the program until they arrived for the exam. I couldn’t believe it. Sadly, things didn’t go so smoothly for them.
3. Even leaders make mistakes
The examiners gave us time warnings at 30 and 15 minutes. We were working along through a 3-hour section. About halfway through, we hear a booming announcement: “30 minutes remaining.” After we panicked and checked our watches, we realized the Bar Examiner got off on the time. Everyone had a good laugh, and we got back to work.
4. Scantron forms still suck
If you’ve never filled out these little bubbles, you must be from a different part of the world, perhaps another planet. You’ve got to fill the circle completely, leave no stray marks, and totally erase any wrong answers. They’re still a pain to fill-in. And we still have to sit through the complete directions. Seriously, if you can’t fill out a scantron form on your own, do you deserve a law license?
Scantron has been around for 30+ years. When is somebody going to develop a better system?
5. People listen to threats
I’ve never seen people respond to threats more quickly. When you hold the keys to someone’s career, they’ll listen to and heed your commands.
It was a bit odd that we couldn’t even have water at our tables, but nobody dared violate the rule. And no one uttered a peep even on the way to the restroom, for fear they’d be disqualified. You could smell the fear in the air. Powerful.
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