Tuesday, August 7, 2007

This blog is kaput.

Since the primary purpose of this particular blog was to post my thoughts on my bar studying experience, and the bar is over, I'm ending my time with Blogger. I don't like this format as much as I like wordpress, anyway. If you care to continue reading about my life, I'll still post the occasional blog on irrationalbasis.wordpress.com

Thanks to those of you who've read my posts here and supported and encouraged me this summer. I hope we all pass and don't have to repeat the experience again!!!

Monday, August 6, 2007

Well, it's over.

I took the CA Bar and survived. A few notes:

1) it was not as hard as I expected it to be. I felt like if you KNEW the law, you could totally rock the thing. *I* did not know the law for a couple of issues, but still, it was not the all-intimidating-oh-my-gosh-how-does-anyone-pass?!?! experience that people made it out to be.

2) the MBE was ridiculous. Whoever said PMBR/Barbri/MM questions were harder than the actual MBE did NOT know what they were talking about. One half of the MBE, at least, was a disaster. I think, if I fail, it will be because I scored a 4 on the MBE.

3) the whole thing was very anticlimactic (sp?) Everyone showed up in jeans and t-shirts and flip-flops, we crowded into this massive warehouse, and the instructions given in a dry monotone voice by the head proctor made us out to be total idiots. All in all, it was sort of a disappointing finale to the summer of studying.

4) Handwriting sucks, but it’s doable. Ending the day on Thursday, I definitely felt I had been at a material disadvantage handwriting the test. Granted, EVERY ONE ELSE IN THE ROOM was typing, so that was a little disheartening, but I really felt that handwriters deserved more time since all the others could outline on the computer and then fill in the body of text later, whereas I found myself writing things about 3x each just so I could get a decent idea of how to approach the question without having too many arrows or crossed-out sections. Our section’s proctor was so nice. At the end of Day 1 she asks me, “So honey, will you have a computer by thursday???” uh no. Bring the lined paper.

5) People are weird. At the lunch breaks, i saw people stretching like mad - legs in the air, arms every which way… i mean, really - have you NEVER sat for 3 hrs before??!?!?! it was bizarre. A few girls had made duct-tape purse straps to go with their little plastic bags. Interesting.

All in all, I don’t know if I passed or if I didn’t. Regardless of the outcome, I will not be surprised. I felt really good about the essay q’s today and both of the performance tests. Not so great about the MBE and the first day’s essays, but whatever. I heard a few people talking and it seems some people didn’t finish the essays, others didn’t know the law… I mean, I think almost all of us feel it could go either way.

It was definitely not as bad as I’d anticipated. AND - for those of you taking the Bar next year, etc. I really DON’T think you need to do Barbri. Everything that was on the essays & PT’s, I got from my MicroMash materials. I think though, in retrospect, I wish I had done more PMBR stuff. Maybe not the seven/six day course, but perhaps the 3 day course, or just spent more time doing their outlines. There were some things on the MBE that I had NEVER heard of before, that I think PMBR probably would have covered and did cover in their materials.

So - I feel ok about the Bar. I am not disappointed in myself, although I know there was stuff on there that I didn’t know, but tried my hardest to B.S. I’ll let you know how it turns out in Nov. But, tonight, I am on my way to utah!!!

Handwriting the Bar

Handwriting the exam sucked, but I did it. On my mom’s advice, I bought pens of various widths, which were supposed to keep my hand from cramping, but I’m not convinced that it was the pens as much as it was stress that kept my hand from freezing up. I limited myself to an hour on each of the essays. I spent about 15 mins reading and outlining the essay, and 45 mins writing. On the PT, I spent about an hour reading/outlining, and then 2 hrs writing. That seemed to work pretty well. I was able to get most of my points down, although there was A LOT of crossing out and little notations off to the side. I tried my best to keep my handwriting legible. If, for some reason, you have to write the entire Bar like me, when you spend a good majority of the summer anticipating TYPING it, remind yourself of the little blessings like - 1) you won’t be the candidate whose computer fails them in the middle of the PT and has to pick up where you left off handwriting the rest of the test, dealing with the mental distress of - was the rest of your answer saved??!?!?!? 2) if you fail, at least you can blame it *partially* on the fact that you had to handwrite at the last minute and didn’t have the time you really needed to write all that you wanted; 3) when you finish the test, you finish the test. There is no need to worry about uploading, downloading, internet connections, etc. You hand your booklet to the proctor and you are free to leave. It’s over.

But - my advice: If you possibly possibly can, try to get transferred to a writing center. It is really discouraging as a handwriter to look up and see everyone else outlining on their computers, while you are trying to get your info together so that your essay isn’t a total disaster. Also, there’s less people to deal with. I think we had at least a couple hundred in our warehouse. Chances are, if you’re handwriting, you get to stay at some swanky hotel and handwrite in a nice little conference room with a handful of other people. Fewer people = fewer distractions = better performance.

I hope that at least some of the people in my room felt a little sorry for me, having to watch me handwrite and stretch out my poor fingers when it was all over. One girl made the comment that maybe handwriters have better answers because we don’t have time to discuss totally irrelevant stuff and have to actually limit ourselves to what the question asks. Maybe. I just hope that the examiners go through thousands and thousands of typed answers, just to come across that one handwritten answer that eeks out all the sympathy possible… Handwriting sucks because it’s slow and you don’t do it on a regular basis, but you can still do it and finish on time and make all the necessary points. After seeing some of the craziness some other people went through with their computers, part of me thinks I might handwrite again if I have to do this a second time…….

Sunday, July 22, 2007


GOOD LUCK to everyone taking the various state Bars!!!!!!! Freedom is four days away!!! Good luck!!

I'm Sick of Studying.

Tomorrow I head down to my hotel near San Mateo to get settled in for the Tues-Thurs fun. Thursday evening, immediately after finishing the Exam, I’ll drive back up to SF, unload my car, reload my things into my sexy man’s X, and hit the road for Hanksville, Utah for a FABULOUS 10day vacation in the middle of nowhere.

Right now I don’t really know how I feel about taking the Bar. I can’t say that I feel “ready,” but I do feel ready to be done with studying. I’ve already started compiling a short list in my head of “things I’d do differently” to post at some later point and remind myself of - if I have to do this again. While I am not confident that I’ve crammed enough into my memory to get the requisite points to pass, I don’t think I’m going to feel too embarrassed/stupid if my name is not on the list come November.

My friend A and I talked about this before. So much of taking the Bar - especially the MBE - is just interpreting things the way the examiners want you to interpret it. Just this last week I came across a PMBR MBE q that was almost exactly the same as a MicroMash MBE I’d done a while ago. I got it wrong the first time around on MM, so I made sure to do it right on PMBR. Um - no. The way I’d answered the MM q was RIGHT on the PMBR q. The facts were pretty much identical; the situation was the same. Yet, two different answers. AND - several of the PMBR q’s will give you two, sometimes even three “right” answers! What?!?! Anyways, I feel like part of passing has got to be presenting the material in the way the examiners like it. And, I refuse to feel DUMB just because I was unable to perform appropriately during three days, when I’ve spent the last 8wks studying this stuff!!

I’m really curious how the handwriting thing is gonna go. When I called to ask about changing test centers, they told me to just go the laptop center I’m already registered with and they’ll provide me handwriting materials there. I wonder though - will I be in the same room with all the typers? That would SUCK. I’ll have earplugs, but - ugh - the intimidation of seeing all those fingers flying over the keyboard while I’m clenching/unclenching my hand to keep the bloodflow. I didn’t want to deal with the hassle of getting a new computer, re-registering the software, dealing with the bar people, etc. etc., and I wasn’t even sure if they’d LET me re-register so late in the game, so I decided to just handwrite the Exam. BUT - it really stinks that I’ve spent the last oh, ten years, perfecting my typing skills, only to have to handwrite one of the most important exams of my life. Do they grade handwritten exams with more leniency?? ha. I read one of the model essay answers and it was five pages - typed. How am I supposed to compete with that?!?

In this moment, as this post has progressed, I am totally over the Bar Exam (as opposed to two days ago when I broke down crying on the way to dinner). Whatever happens, happens. Things happen for a reason. I have love, life, a warm bed, great friends, awesome family, a decent resume, and in a week I will be floating down the Green River with the most ridiculously fantastic beer cozy in my hand (seriously - two layers of closed-cell foam + wrapped in Mylar + sealed w/silicon) and nothing in the world to do but layer myself with regular applications of 30SPF. It’s a good life, regardless of what the NCBE or Cal Bar Readers think.

Monday, June 25, 2007

My Right Hand Man

My new best friend is Black’s Law Dictionary. Who would’ve known it was SO useful?? When I sit down to study, I make sure it has a nice cuddly spot right next to me. It’s poor cover is dogeared and slightly torn - becoming a little ragged and well loved, like my old DeeDee doll from when I was a kid. Especially if you’re using MicroMash which discusses and references a theory/concept/rule 20pgs before it actually tells you what the theory/concept/rule is, a law dictionary is an absolute necessity. Plus, there are awesome words like “hotchpot” and ”fugue” in it. Speaking of which, ”fugue” seems like a good word for how I’ll most likely feel about this summer - “An abnormal state of consciousness in which one appears to function normally, but on recovery has no memory of what one did while in that condition.”

On a totally different note, today I saw the postman and all I could think was - California can’t require you to get a CA driver’s license if you want to drive your postal truck around here… Thanks Con Law for that highly insignificant tip.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

One Month.

One more month of this stuff. I’m already tired of studying. Well, at least sometimes. Other times, in a weird way, I actually enjoy it. I feel like things are gradually beginning to make sense and it’s beginning to be more connected in my brain, which is nice. I’ve been reading through the state subjects this week, making my outlines, so that as of July 1, I can bust out essay after essay after essay for the entire month. I read the Remedies section and HELLO - why didn’t they give us THIS as part of Law School 101?? So far, the explanation of all the remedies and how they relate to each other has been one of the most helpful things I’ve read. I guess this means I wasn’t a very good law student if I just NOW figured all this stuff out. I was complaining to my sexy man the other day about how law school kind of sucks in that you spend so much time reading case law and trying to keep up with classes, that you don’t really have TIME to sit down and figure out why/how a particular court applied a particular remedy to a case. So, I go through, just sort of throwing various remedies into exam answers w/o truly understanding how/why they apply. Obviously, I had some grasp on remedies before reading this section, but reading these 25pgs made everything a lot more clear in my head, and a clear head is always a good thing.

So far I’ve read and outlined Agency, Partnerships, Corporations, Community Property, Remedies and am working on my outline for Trusts. I read through the comprehensive outlines in the MicroMash book, and then paraphrase and reorganize their information into a 10-15pg outline for myself. I’ve been writing the stuff in paragraph form as opposed to the typical bulleted outline because if I’m going to have put the concepts into sentences in an essay, I might as well work on that a little bit here. My goal today is to finish the Trusts outline and read Wills, maybe outline that one too. I’m also doing 20-40MBE single-subject questions each day, although I have to admit I haven’t done any since Friday.

Even though studying on my own has been somewhat isolating (though less so since I’m staying with my sexy man), I LOVE the freedom and flexibility of my schedule. My sexy man keeps telling me, in a very encouraging way, that not everyone could do what I’m doing - sitting inside all day, not leaving the house, studying, five-seven days a week, 5-8 hrs/day. I’ve definitely taken little breaks, and spent a few hours laying out in the backyard enjoying the gorgeous day while studying my outlines. But, overall, I have remained pretty dedicated to a daily schedule of just STUDYING. Several of my friends took Bar/Bri, etc. because they needed the motivation to get up and study, etc. Somehow, I’m doing ok being self-motivated. Again, there are days when I feel like I’m not as focused as I could be, or maybe I’m going through the material a little too slowly, but I feel like I’m on the right track and am doing ok so far.

I cannot express enough how nice it is to not be around other people who are studying for the bar. My sexy man and his roommates are very supportive and understanding of the work I need to do and how I just lock myself in a room all day long when they’re being social and having fun. When I talk about how I did “nothing” all day, they instantly chastise me and say, “no! You studied all day! that’s hard work!!” Every morning my sexy man asks what my goal is for the day, and when he gets home from work, he questions, “On a scale from 1-10, what was your productivity?” to help me stay focused and hold me accountable for what I want to accomplish. This environment allows me to keep a healthy perspective on the Bar and life in general. (In addition, my internet access is limited due to the occasional disconnection because of construction on the house, and these guys don’t own a TV, so no Dr. Phil/Oprah/TLC/Simpsons to dull my brain and eat up valuable study time.) I know some people thrive on the peer pressure and competition to get certain scores, or do a certain # of essays, or whatever, but all that stuff just makes me nervous. I am existing in my own very very small, sheltered world, surrounded by only encouraging comments and supportive vibes, and this is the best possible place I could be.