Monday, July 28, 2008

Good Luck on the Bar, Class of 2008!

So the last-minute plan underwent some changes. Outlining took a little longer than I thought, but then, I was trying to cover 14 subjects, and did so at a pace of about 3-1/2 subjects a day. Nevertheless, the process of creating the comprehensive compact outline forced me to learn, and in so doing, substituted the efficacy of actually doing essays. And now that I have the huge outline, I've got all the subjects floating in my head; hopefully they'll stick around long enough for me to write about them for the actual bar. And, just for comfort's sake, I'm reading through some sample essays this morning.

But enough about me; this is about you, about us.

We've been through three (four, for some) years of law school now. We know how to do this. Most of the things we need to know are floating in our minds. We law students as a group tend to be a bit obsessive, so the entire feeling of not knowing what's going to happen bothers us. It's going to bother us, too, in November. But being bothered isn't going to help us.

What's going to help, in my personal opinion, is the ability not to freak out, or at least to bring things under control when and if we begin to panic. Like I said, we have the knowledge. But to an extent, a lot of us always seem to feel like nothing we do is ever good enough. Is that really true? Why not let the examiner decide that? Don't ever decide on their behalf that we're not good enough!

This past Saturday, I came home after 14 hours at the library, feeling fine physically, but emotionally drained, in the sense that I'd been giving so much of my mind and energy to finishing the monster outline that I hadn't really had time to step back and assess my own humanity. I had become a law machine. My friends and I had begun the summer joking about applying the law to every factual scenario that raised itself, including discussing how we could sue the bar association for intentional infliction of emotional distress, or California for imposing an unconstitutional speech litmus test on us. Or even wondering, yesterday, if the way the outer shell of a law school building was constructed might expose the school to liability should the wall fall on us (it cannot, unless the school had reason to know or could discover that there was a problem with the construction that poses an unreasonable risk of harm to us, invitees--and then we discussed whether we were invitees or licensees, in which case the school would only be liable for known risks of harm). Mo, Alex, Lety, Katie, Aleksey, Bear, I love you guys, but seriously, at that point, we were not human beings.

So my point is that on this, the last day before the three days that we've been preparing three years for, please remember to take a step back. My epiphany on Saturday night (well it was really Sunday morning because I'd stayed at the library pretty much until midnight) is that there's no way we're going to succeed without love. That sounds mushy, and warm and fuzzy, like Professional Responsibility, but I'll tell you why I think it's important.

The practice of law inevitably demands that we deal with people, many if not most of whom have only a superficial understanding of the law. They will come to us hoping for answers, and needing us to listen; they won't want to hear us ticking through the elements in a monologue as if reciting a bar essay answer. And while ticking through the elements is useful for the bar, it's counterproductive if it blinds us to common sense. And where do we get common sense from? We tend to get it from years of dealing with people, especially the people that we love and that love us, our friends, family, and significant others (for those who have one). They keep us grounded. They let us do our thing this summer (for the most part), and when we're done, they'll be there for us still.

On this last day before the bar exam, talk to them, if only for 10 minutes. Call them up, and offer your appreciation. You'll be refreshed by the love in their perseverance and patience. And, most of all, you'll remember why you made this undertaking to begin with. After all, in the end, this isn't just a degree, not just a license. Well, that it is as well, but it's more than that; my point is, no accomplishment is worth that much in the long run if you're not human, if you don't have someone to share your triumph with.

So call, and talk, about anything but law. (Yes, you can still analyze facts mentioned in the conversation under the law, but do it with your inside voice.) Tomorrow, you will be refreshed; you will be ready.

Best of luck to all of you, I wish you good fortune and much love, and I'll see you on the other side!

No comments: