August 09, 2005

M: Burning My Bar Ticket Was the Most Satisfying Experience of My Life

by Guest Contributor

(Mark M. is a 2005 graduate of the University of Texas Law School, as well as a high school classmate whom PG feels free to nag.)

This post should ensure that PG remains on speaking terms with me.

The bar exam marked the first time I've ever actually worked hard in my life. I've lied about working hard in the past: "Sure, mom, law school's got me working dusk til dawn... [giggle]." But, essentially, undergrad was a joke, law school was a lark, and every job I've had before was just a way to pass the time and earn CD money.

I studied hard for the bar exam. Relatively speaking. Generally spent 10-14 hours a day, every day, after July 4th. I realize some people surpassed that, but then, those people probably took law school more seriously.

And sometimes I've felt foolish during that process. I'm around the top 10% at a top 15 law school -- without putting any effort into law school, outside of generally doing the reading so long as it's interesting. And, after all, 80% of all first time takers pass the Texas bar exam. Well over 90% of takers from my school pass it. Surely I could half-ass it again, and succeed, right? The phrase "minimal competence" became my best friend.

Theoretically, perhaps. But the consequences of failure would have been too disastrous. So I worked. Ground out dozens of practice essays. Quickly got to about 85% on the practice multi-state, then panicked when I only got 80% on a 50 question sampler the week before the exam. And the sample answers in the back of the Barbri books tortured me. If that was maximum points, I figured I was doomed. I became a hermit, petulant with my wife, short-tempered with my friends. Joined the cult of "barzam." Visited blogs by other bar-takers. Only those who are taking the vile thing fully understand it.

I found myself tipping bigger at my local coffee shop on the rationale that they do have to put up with my shit, and I needed the karma. Found myself wondering if my walks around the wall school every couple of hours with my iPod were compromising my study routine. Found myself wondering if three beers before bed were good, because they relaxed me after a vile day, or bad, because they were rotting my mind.

The actual bar exam was mostly easy. The Texas procedure and evidence questions were pedestrian. I didn't know every one completely, but I had no doubt that I was proficient.

After the second day, I was even more confident. Even from the beginning, I'd never gotten fewer than 75% of the multi-state questions correct, so I always figured that would give me a good cushion.

On the essays, which I had been dreading, the first four seemed ridiculously simple. The fifth was slightly troublesome because it was an obscure twist, but the sixth was freaking impossible. Asked a question that hadn't really been asked before, so Barbri hadn't prepared me for it. It was dreadful. Regardless, after the exam, other people were all sweating it too, saying they'd just made it all up, so that was a relief.

The afternoon of the third day was OK, but fatigue began to get to me. I've always found both wills and BA quite easy - but had more trouble than I should have. Physically, I was exhausted. My back hurt, my fingers were sore, and my brain was getting fuzzy.

Oh well. It's over. I'm sure I passed. And when I get my score, I'll regret every second I spent that was unnecessary in studying.

August 9, 2005 12:42 AM | TrackBack

Nice post. I will be taking the Texas exam next summer. Could you please give more detail about those 5th and 6th questions?

Posted by: sebastianguy99 at August 9, 2005 03:10 PM

Yup. I don't think I'll regret overstudying though, aren't you kind of glad you did it *before* the Exam so you can now relax and enjoy your time off rather than worry about whether you passed? That's how I feel. But I am also more of a spazz than most people. I'd be stressing everyday between now and Nov. 18 when we get our results.

Posted by: GG at August 12, 2005 02:02 PM

My TBE experience: Overall, I felt comfortable with my performance on the TBE. I will not go so far as to say that I am positive I passed, but neither am I sweating until the results come out. I worked very – very hard studying for the exam, as hard as I have ever worked on anything in my life back. I suppose that is why I am strangely at peace with it. I also must agree Mark’s observations about the exam questions.

Regarding questions 5 and 6: Question 5 was an oil and gas question involving the “Relinquishment Act.” The act has only rarely been tested (I think only once before) and besides they approached in a weird or even misapplied fashion. Thank God, I understood the act, but I heard many people saying what the heck is the ‘Relinquishment act?’ There was also (sort of) the Duhig doctrine at the end. In any case, both are fairly obscure doctrines.

The sixth question – phew- what can I say… It was supposed to be a pure property question (which you will find are not that common on the TBE) but the question could just as easily been a secure transaction question – seemed to be all about mortgages, liens and foreclosure, etc. It really left you scratching your head.

I would not like to repeat this process - but I also feel like it was a cool thing to go through - Yes you life sucks during bar prep, but the intensity of it makes you feel little different as person - after.

I also agree that I had felt comfortable with the 2nd half of the day’s subjects before the exam, but felt they gave me a little more difficulty than I anticipated. Likely too this was just pure exhaustion.

Posted by: fintracity at August 25, 2005 04:07 PM

I thought question 10 (wills) was difficult. I scrambled through a chunk of it trying to come up with something rational. The "foster son" threw me off. I just decided he was a pretermitted child since he wasn't the testator's legal son when the will was executed. It was better than nothing I guess.

The rest of the problem was not too bad. Also, I know I messed up part of the UCC problems. There were a couple of tricky issues. But I think I got the bulk of what I needed.

I am cautiously optimistic that I passed. The waiting is what is so hard right now. I have a good job waiting (for now).

Posted by: Ryan at October 16, 2005 08:32 PM

So, did everyone pass? How'd you guys do relative to the averages (i.e., did you waste a lot of time doing too much studying?)

Posted by: Chuck at November 9, 2005 09:59 PM
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