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5 Life Lessons from the Bar Exam

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.

[tags]bar exam[/tags]

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15 Responses to “5 Life Lessons from the Bar Exam”

  1. Palm Coast
    July 28th, 2007

    Lol, really funny read because it’s so easy to relate to. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Mike Benton
    July 28th, 2007

    I hate to be *that* guy… but where are the other 5 life lessons?

  3. Andrew Flusche
    July 28th, 2007

    Whoops! I forgot to change the title before I published the post. I’ve fixed it now. It was late, so I only came up with 5 lessons. :)

  4. Snoskred
    July 28th, 2007

    No water? For such a long time? :( How could they enforce that? I’m hoping some of you newly qualified lawyers will sort that out.. ;)


  5. Andrew Flusche
    July 28th, 2007

    @snoskred – LOL Actually, they let us go to the restroom and water fountain. And I’m not sure that suing the Bar Examiners is a good way to ensure passing the exam. :)

  6. [...] 5 Life Lessons from the Bar Exam, from Legal Andrew by Andrew Flusche [...]

  7. Kevin Gamble
    July 29th, 2007

    I really try to avoid linking back to my own blog, but I had to offer some fashion advice after reading your post: Fashion tip #1: When forced with making unacceptable fashion choices — choose to make a statement.

  8. Andrew Flusche
    July 30th, 2007

    Hey Kevin,

    Thanks for your thoughts on the fashion aspect here. I definitely don’t have fashion skills – maybe that’s why I wore soft-soled semi-dress shoes. :)

  9. Britty
    July 31st, 2007

    In Illinois, our only dress restriction was not to wear “flip-flops or other shoes that make loud noise when you walk” — a restriction I applauded as I detest that snick-slap sound flip-flops make. But then, one of the proctors showed up wearing a pair of very loudly smacking mules! Maybe everyone should just be told to wear socks and leave their shoes at the door.

  10. Andrew Flusche
    August 1st, 2007

    Hi Britty,

    The flip-flop restriction sounds reasonable. Maybe everyone should wear slipper socks!

  11. MattRearden
    August 7th, 2007

    Andrew – and insightful remembrance of those 2 days I never wish to re-do. The exam itself did not seem that bad, but all the drama in the room was enough to make me crazy. Sounds like you were well prepared and ready to go. Site looks great. Wishing you much success on your results and the very interesting “first legal job.”

    BTW – someone please send a memo to all the sneaker wearing attorneys-to-be and remind them about Rule #1….that is hilarious!

  12. Andrew Flusche
    August 7th, 2007

    Hi Matt,

    Thanks for stopping by to comment. I’m glad you enjoyed the post, and I hope your blogging experience is fun!


  13. [...] go first, to break the ice. Since I just took the Virginia bar exam, I definitely spent some time studying torts. Negligence makes me nervous. It’s a slippery [...]

  14. JHS
    December 2nd, 2007

    “Both days”? Lucky you! The California Bar, easily the toughest in the nation save for, perhaps, New York’s, has been three days long for as long as I can remember. NOT a fun experience. Count your blessings that you were in a state with a two-day exam!

    And congrats on passing! Now what? Off to a law firm?

  15. Andrew Flusche
    December 2nd, 2007


    I’m actually working for a great non-profit group here in Virginia. It’s awesome to finally be done and not worrying about exams, licensure, etc. Although now I have to worry about ethics. :)


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