April 02, 2010

It's Been A Long Time Coming

I've been wanting to write this post for a long, long, long time, and now I finally can.

Bar results came out today.

I passed.

I probably don't need to describe my happiness and relief.

Now I can finally get on with whatever is next.

March 04, 2010

Second Chances

Last week I took the bar exam. Again. (Sometimes it seems like I’m in some kind of cosmic contest to see how many giant events I can fit into a twelve month period….graduating from law school, getting a job, studying for the bar, taking the bar, failing the bar, losing said job, studying for the bar, taking the bar, post-cancer surgery, etc. I’m totally winning.) It was…the bar exam. It wasn’t any easier or more fun the second time around. I was much calmer during most of the prep period, because I knew what to expect. I knew exactly what I needed to do, and I wasn’t worried about getting it all done because I knew that would happen. I felt more confident during the test itself this time, but I still don’t have any strong feeling one way or the other about whether I passed. I knew the answers to a lot of the questions…but I didn’t know the answers to a lot of the questions. And now there’s nothing left to do but wait.

About three weeks ago, the office that hired me last spring called one day while I was studying. I got the message at lunch time and hoped that maybe they were calling to offer me a job. But as I dialed the number, I began to think that maybe they were actually calling to tell me that they didn’t have any more jobs and that I should look somewhere else. And my mind kept jumping back and forth between those two possibilities as I listened to the phone ring and waited for someone to answer on the other end. Maybe they were calling to offer me a job! Or maybe not! I finally got in touch with the person who had left a message for me. You can probably imagine my happiness when she told me that she was calling to offer me a job. She told me that they wanted me to come back as a clerk while I was waiting for the bar results, and that once I got my license I would be reinstated as an Assistant State’s Attorney.

Since that phone call, I have spent a lot of time counting my blessings. I am so lucky not only to have a job, but a job that is essentially my Dream Job. I am humbled by the fact that they believe in me enough to offer me this position before I even receive the results of my second try. But the pressure! Oy vey! If I don’t pass this time, I will have to go through all the same pain and humiliation that I went through last October and the thought of that is almost unbearable. In fact, I’ve been trying not to think about it, because I can’t even imagine how it will all play out if it happens again.

October 17, 2009

Keeping the Plates in the Air

One of the things that happens when you fail the bar exam is that you go back over every single excruciating detail of the test and the test preparation in your head to try to figure out "what went wrong." It could have been anything...maybe I had a bad test day (or days), maybe I didn't concentrate enough during the lectures, maybe I just didn't get it all like I thought I did. I received a detailed report of my results, so I know that it was the multiple choice questions that did me in and not the essays as I predicted it would be, but I still don't know exactly what happened. When I left the exam in July I felt relatively confident about it. Or at the very least, I didn't feel like I had failed.

I have begun to wonder if maybe I just did too much during that time. When I first started to study I remember reading a letter from the exam prep company about what the next couple of months were going to be like and about how the preparation was going to work. In the letter, they gave a few words of warning about how to do it "right." One thing they said, which I joked about all summer, was that they recommended that you do NOT try to work, plan a wedding, or train for a marathon while you prepare for the bar exam. And I didn't plan a wedding.

When I tell people this story, I always defend myself at the end by saying, "But I did everything they told me to do! I followed the schedule, I made it my top priority, and I just fit the other things in." And it's true...I did. If I can say anything about myself and what I have done in the past couple of years, it's that I'm a master juggler. I mean really...I juggled law school and three kids! I juggled law school, three kids, and cancer! Why shouldn't I be able to juggle bar prep, work, and triathlon training? And three kids? A friend who always speaks the truth said to me the other day, "Kim, I think you did too much. I know you can handle a lot, but this was one time when you should not have done all of that." And I have begun to wonder if perhaps she is right. Is that what it was? Did I divide my attention too thinly this summer?

I don't know if I will ever know exactly what happened, but I do know that this time I will do things differently. I have registered for the February 2010 bar exam and I have re-signed up for the same bar prep course that I took before. But this time I will not work at all during January and February and I will not train for any triathlons during those months. I will still have to feed my kids from time to time and probably emerge from my office for fresh air and bathroom breaks every once in awhile, but this time my main focus will be bar prep.

October 16, 2009

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.

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