What is it like to study for the bar exam? It is akin to memorizing a full set of encyclopedia Britannica and understanding how the nuances of each word agree with and contradict the nuances of every other word. Basically, it is impossible. One bar prep instructor kindly pointed that out. His consolation was that it is also impossible for everyone else, so, “Don’t panic. Attempt the impossible.”
When I started bar prep, I explained to my friends that I would be unavailable while I was studying. They complied and left me alone to study. Now I wonder why all my friends deserted me. Bar prep is isolating. Depressing. Impossible. Sometimes I cry. I quit. How could I even think about quitting when I look back at all it took to get me this far? I am irrational.
I have wanted to become an attorney for almost fifty years, since I was twelve. Finally, after my own kids got their degrees and careers, I took a year and studied for the LSAT. The LSAT is the entrance exam that requires you to know where Sam would sit if he was two chairs to the left of Renee and never saw a doctor on Sunday. I still don’t know how the LSAT applies to practicing law. I’m not alone. The LSAT is no longer required for Harvard and Georgetown law schools. I took it twice.
My job did not allow me to go to law school in the traditional way, so when a friend told me about law schools in California that were entirely online, I immediately applied. The caveat is, if I was in the lucky 5% of the class who passed the first year, and then passed the “Baby Bar” required to take years the next 2-4 years, and graduated, I would still be allowed to practice only in California. I live in Minnesota.
Just as I was about to enroll in my second year of online law school in California, William Mitchell (now Mitchell Hamline) announced that it was starting a Hybrid program that would allow people to study part online, and part concentrated study on campus. I would have to start over, but then I could practice where I live. To my amazement I was accepted to the law school of my dreams. William Mitchell was where my hero, Rosalie Wahl, went. Justice Wahl was the reason I never let go of my dream over the years. Justice Wahl did not go to law school until her kids were older. It is never too late to follow your dream.
I am pretty sure I was the happiest person who walked across that stage in May. No one told me that bar prep is this horrendous and would cause me to question my own sanity. If they did, I did not believe them. (I studied Greek, in Portuguese, in Brazil—without knowing Portuguese. Bar prep is worse.) I have a newfound awe for anyone who ever passed the bar. They are superheroes who did the impossible. I am not a superhero–but still, I will attempt the impossible in three weeks.
Karen Grossman, the author of this post, externed for CCLI in 2017, graduated from Mitchell Hamline in 2018 and will take the Minnesota bar shortly. We wish her fulfillment of her “impossible” dream!