Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Shake, Rattle and Roll

I had decided to go into Internet silence, but two things have compelled me to surface tonight. First, in order to finish submitting my answers from this, the first day of the California Bar Exam, I had to connect to the Internet and upload the answers. Second, I felt like I should comment about the earthquake that struck today, about 20 minutes before the end of the morning session.

There we were, in the Century Plaza Hotel, typing merrily away about implied-in-fact contracts, when the building started to shake. At first we thought it might be a semi rolling by, or the sound of construction. But then the pillars in my testing room began to blur. And this being only the first day of the bar, I knew it wasn't just my eyesight. It had to be an earthquake.

The room shook for a few seconds, then there was a second or two of relative calm, before a second convulsion shook the room. "You've gotta be kidding!" some people started exclaiming. I wondered if I was supposed to duck and cover, but decided instead just to keep typing, especially since there were no emergency announcements. The head proctor spoke at the podium a few seconds after we were sure there were not going to be any aftershocks and used the same reasoning. So 500 or so people kept typing away at their essays.

In the morning, some of us had bemoaned the fact that our testing room was in what seemed to be an old parking lot or storage room of some sort. We envied the other 500 or so people who got the ballroom, with the beautiful chandeliers. As it turned out, a piece fell from one of the chandeliers in the quake, and dropped on the table behind one of my friends, who only then considered doing the duck and roll.

As we gathered after lunch for the afternoon session, one of the bar applicants reported that she and her friends who were taking the exam in Ontario had spoken, and it turned out that they had to ride the quake for more time than those of us in Century City did, because they were closer to the epicenter. Despite Professor Honigsberg's anecdotes during Bar/Bri, the proctors did give the Ontario applicants extra time--all of two minutes.

On the other hand, the questions didn't seem particularly difficult, which is really only to say that there was nothing being asked that made most of us wonder where it had come from. As it turns out, students who had taken Fleming's bar review course knew the second question, which their instructor had predicted almost word-for-word. Bar/Bri students, on the other hand, had never seen the topic before, but were able to pull through using the reasoning they developed over three years.

All this might mean that Thursday is going to be the day of the really hard essay questions. But on this first day of the California bar exam, Tuesday 29 July 2008, the only thing that shook us was the earth itself.

Update: (2008.07.30.21:35 PDT) There's a great roundup of reactions from all around the blawgosphere at Ash Blog Durbatulûk: "Earthquake disrupts California bar exam"

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