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Grief and Loss

It has been about two weeks since I received my dismal bar results and it has taken much of that time for me to work through my feelings associated with the failure. It has been a blow to my ego and self-esteem, but after a few days I realized that the worst part of it was the loss of my job. It happened so suddenly and I really didn't plan to leave, and it turns out that I had to go through a period of grieving the loss.

After my first year of law school, I worked as an intern at a local state's attorney's office. It was a small office and there were only two interns so we got to do a lot of work while we were there. I didn't have a 711 license that summer (a temporary license granted by the state to "senior" law students which allows them to practice law in some fields under the supervision of an attorney), so I was not able to approach the bench, but I did many other things and I was in court almost every day. Despite the fact that I had said that I never wanted to practice criminal law, I loved it. I loved it so much that when it was time to look for a job after my third year of school (of four...I didn't work after the second year because of chemo), I started my search with other state's attorney's offices. I found an internship with another local office, but this time I had a 711 license so I was able to approach the bench and to do both jury and bench trials with other attorneys. I went back again two semesters later for another internship. And then they hired me.

I was offered a position as an Assistant State's Attorney Law Clerk with this office before I graduated in May. They knew that I had to study for the bar, and they agreed to let me work part time during May and June, and to have July off to study. I went back full-time as soon as the exam was over at the beginning of August. I loved every second of it. Working there as an ASA Law Clerk was even better than working there as an intern. I had my own cases and was in court every single day of the week both for daily court calls and for jury and bench trials. I would often walk through the halls of the office and think about how thankful I was to be there and how lucky I was to get to do this every day.

The day the bar results come out is the day that temporary 711 license expires. If you fail the bar, the license is immediately void and you can no longer practice law. If you pass the bar, the license is extended for another month or so until you are sworn into the bar and you receive your real license. Because I failed, my license expired and I could no longer do most of the work I was doing for the office.

I left work at about 4:30 p.m. on October 1st, knowing that the results of the test were posted online. I had already decided that I wasn't going to check the results while I was at work just in case they were bad. I got home around 5:15 p.m., signed on to the results website, and found out that I failed. The result of my license becoming immediately void was that when I got up the next morning, I didn't go to work. And it turns out that was the worst part.

Many people have asked me why the office didn't hire me to continue to work there doing something else. I think there are several answers to that. One is that I never asked them to. I couldn't imagine going there every day to work as a clerk or an intern after having lost the job I loved. I also don't think they could necessarily afford to hire me. Like every company these days, they are strapped for cash and I don't think there is a lot of extra to be used to hire additional staff. I could probably volunteer to work there part-time doing research or filing or something, and I might do that depending on how things work out in the next couple of weeks.

I spent the week after the results were posted thinking things like, "Well, I'd be heading to the courtroom right now to find out which bench trials were going to go this afternoon" and "I wonder if that motion I worked on will be granted" and "I wonder how big the call is the morning." It was so sad for me to have to give all of that up. In addition, I realized how much I missed my co-workers. There are some amazing people who work in that office, both attorneys and support staff, and it was so hard to just not see them or talk to them anymore after having gotten to know them over the past year.

Many of them have contacted me in the past two weeks with very kind and supportive words, and that has helped. But I have still had to go through a period of grief for the loss of the job I loved so much.
I do not know what the next six months hold and I do not know if I will ever have the opportunity to go back to this office, but I hope so. Right now, my goal is to get this thing taken care of in February, to get my results in April, and then to go back. We will see how it all works out.


I know you're going to be just fine, but that doesn't mean it doesn't suck in the meantime. It's a set back, but they know how awesome you are. Once you've passed the bar, I'm sure they'll hire you back when the position's open. Take the time you need to feel bad and mourn the loss, and then go kick the bar exam's ass! I know you'll be back in April, fighting crime!

Wow, that's harsh. Our state's student temp. license to practice law doesn't expire until a year after your last year of law school. If you fail the bar, then you still have the temp license that lasts just long enough to get the results from the Feb. bar. Plus the DA's office I worked at did shift people into non-court positions if there was a gap between the temp. license expiring and the actual one being instated. Sorry your State is so unforgiving. Best of luck to you!

I have to second what Proto Attorney said. You can do it. I know your grit and your drive will make all the difference.


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