Pretty sure I failed the bar. Should I let my firm know now?

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Pretty sure I failed the bar. Should I let my firm know now?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 11, 2016 9:53 pm

I'm pretty sure I failed the bar exam. I was well prepared and did well on practice tests, but, for various reasons, the exam itself was a total clusterfuck for me, and I had trouble finishing both the essay and the MBE portions. I guess it's possible that I passed, but, realistically, it seems pretty unlikely.

I've felt awful since the exam, even though I know it's not doing me any good. I'll be starting at a V5 in a major market soon, and I'm dreading the day that the exam results are released. I know failing is a shitty experience for everyone, but it seems like it will be especially crushing in this environment. I feel like a total fraud.

I have no clue how often this sort of thing happens at this sort of firm—I've read inconsistent posts on TLS saying either that "it happens and it isn't a big deal" or that "it pretty much never happens and it will change the course of your career." I have no idea what to do about it. Should I reach out to HR and let them know there's going to be an issue and try to figure out what happens next? Should I wait until the results are released and have a really awkward conversation then?

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Re: Pretty sure I failed the bar. Should I let my firm know now?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 11, 2016 10:07 pm

I would wait. I finished with spare time every section and I still feel like I failed the bar exam. And I think almost everyone had a hard time completing the essay portion of the exam.

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Re: Pretty sure I failed the bar. Should I let my firm know now?

Postby jbagelboy » Thu Aug 11, 2016 11:30 pm

I don't know anyone who says the latter. Every attorney I've spoken to says that failing once is no biggie. Failing twice is where you run into longer term career problems.

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Re: Pretty sure I failed the bar. Should I let my firm know now?

Postby bwh8813 » Thu Aug 11, 2016 11:39 pm

You should absolutely not tell your firm that you think you failed. Just wait it out. I'm in the exact same boat, as I'm sure many are. No one I've talked to is absolutely confident they passed. I know I bombed the MEE (or so I think) and honestly have no clue how the MBE will turn out. I've resigned to just wait and see. There's nothing we can do at this point. It's tough, but try not to think about it too much. Get together with friends and talk about anything but the bar exam. Do whatever it is you enjoy doing and try to enjoy your last month or so of freedom.

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Re: Pretty sure I failed the bar. Should I let my firm know now?

Postby wons » Fri Aug 12, 2016 8:45 am

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Last edited by wons on Thu Sep 01, 2016 7:33 am, edited 1 time in total.

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sublime

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Re: Pretty sure I failed the bar. Should I let my firm know now?

Postby sublime » Fri Aug 12, 2016 9:21 am

Fwiw OP and others, looking at this spreadsheet makes me less anxious.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/ ... edit#gid=0



Btw, I agree with others that say there is no upside to telling your employer now, when there is a decent chance that you passed anyway

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Re: Pretty sure I failed the bar. Should I let my firm know now?

Postby SLS_AMG » Fri Aug 12, 2016 9:40 am

1. If you don't tell your firm and you failed: It will suck, but you'll move past it.
2. If you don't tell your firm and you passed: No issue.
3. If you tell your firm and you failed: No real upside, since it's not like they can prepare for it in any way until the results are actually released.
4. If you tell your firm and you didn't fail: You'll look really foolish.

OP, I didn't feel great about it either, but I'm still not going to tell my firm I think I failed, even though I felt there was a good chance of that walking out of the exam. There's really nothing the firm can do between now and the release of results, but if you end up not failing, you'll look really foolish. That's really my main consideration.

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Re: Pretty sure I failed the bar. Should I let my firm know now?

Postby elendinel » Fri Aug 12, 2016 10:20 am

It sounds like the absolute worst thing you can do is go tell HR you failed, when you can't possibly know yet if you failed. At best you'll come off as someone who's going to panic and get flustered at the first blush of trouble, which is not a look you want to have going into a new job. There is literally no reason to "warn" them that you think you failed.

Breathe, and do something to take your mind off the test. At least wait until you have confirmation one way or another, before you start writing your obituary. It's hard to predict how failing would specifically affect you, but do know that it happens to people all the time, and they find ways to still have meaningful careers. Breathe.

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Re: Pretty sure I failed the bar. Should I let my firm know now?

Postby nealric » Fri Aug 12, 2016 12:21 pm

I'd be willing to bet you passed. So many people leave the bar certain they failed and are completely wrong about it.

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Re: Pretty sure I failed the bar. Should I let my firm know now?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Aug 12, 2016 12:38 pm

Agree with most in here saying to wait and see what happens. Many people believe they will fail but actually pass. Also don't think this has an impact on your career. Realistically, if you're at a V5, you're going to move around in the not too distant future regardless of your bar exam results. The new place isn't going to know about this and probably wouldn't give a damn even if they did. In short, whether or not you passed the first time has little consequence in your particular situation.

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Re: Pretty sure I failed the bar. Should I let my firm know now?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Aug 12, 2016 12:54 pm

wons wrote:
jbagelboy wrote:I don't know anyone who says the latter. Every attorney I've spoken to says that failing once is no biggie. Failing twice is where you run into longer term career problems.


This is really wrong - I saw folks posting it on another thread and kind of couldn't believe it. It is a very, very biggie. It basically means that even if you only fail once and pass again, you need to move firms, because you will forever be tarred as the only person who failed in 3 years out of 300+ associates. You may not be fired, per se, but you might as well be.

What makes the bar so intensely unpleasant is that 99% of reasonably qualified people pass (at least in NY) but the consequences for failing are so gigantic. That leads to terrible stress for such an easy test. Who wants to be the asshole that digs a 3 year hole for their career by being that one guy out of 100.

So yeah, do not fail the bar, and if you do, assume that the consequences, though informal, are extremely severe.

That being said, there is hope! The bar is the easiest goddamn exam in the world. I had friends take it with high fevers, passed, with psychiatric issues, passed. With barely studying, passed. The curve is as forgiving as a pair of pants with an elastic waist. Even if you feel certain you failed, do nothing, because nearly everyone with your credentials who is certain they failed actually passed.


This is surely a troll? There's a huge number of successful attorneys at firms where they failed the bar at the first attempt - and likely a growing number given bar passage rates over the past couple of years.

In 21012, Michigan had a 55% pass rate. Arizona in July last year was 56%. In California last July, only 60% of first time takers passed.

https://bol.bna.com/big-law-associates- ... s-to-them/

Firms have already invested heavily in recruiting an associate and often in paying them until their result arrives. Given current pass rates, every firm is hiring new associates, some of whom will fail their first attempt at the bar. After a couple of years, the idea that folk in a firm remember one associate was admitted seven months later than others is unlikely.

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Re: Pretty sure I failed the bar. Should I let my firm know now?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Fri Aug 12, 2016 12:59 pm

Those pass rates are for everyone, though, not people at big law firms, and given biglaw hiring practices and the correlation between law school grades and bar passage, I'm sure the failures aren't evenly distributed across all legal jobs. (That's not endorsing that failing at biglaw dooms you, I just don't think that the 40% failing rate in California means that anything close to 40% of California biglaw associates failed.)

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Re: Pretty sure I failed the bar. Should I let my firm know now?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Aug 12, 2016 1:16 pm

wons wrote:
jbagelboy wrote:I don't know anyone who says the latter. Every attorney I've spoken to says that failing once is no biggie. Failing twice is where you run into longer term career problems.


This is really wrong - I saw folks posting it on another thread and kind of couldn't believe it. It is a very, very biggie. It basically means that even if you only fail once and pass again, you need to move firms, because you will forever be tarred as the only person who failed in 3 years out of 300+ associates. You may not be fired, per se, but you might as well be.

What makes the bar so intensely unpleasant is that 99% of reasonably qualified people pass (at least in NY) but the consequences for failing are so gigantic. That leads to terrible stress for such an easy test. Who wants to be the asshole that digs a 3 year hole for their career by being that one guy out of 100.

So yeah, do not fail the bar, and if you do, assume that the consequences, though informal, are extremely severe.

That being said, there is hope! The bar is the easiest goddamn exam in the world. I had friends take it with high fevers, passed, with psychiatric issues, passed. With barely studying, passed. The curve is as forgiving as a pair of pants with an elastic waist. Even if you feel certain you failed, do nothing, because nearly everyone with your credentials who is certain they failed actually passed.


I'm a v25 junior and failed the bar before. I was stressed and couldnt sleep until early morning then overslpet and missed the entire first half of the essay day SMH.

I got the highest mid year bonus in my firmwide class this year and the highest year end bonus in my class last year - and most didn't even get mid year bonuses. Most people outside of HR don't even know that i failed - parnters and other associates have other better things to do than keep track of this.

edit: I suppose this could vary from firm to firm.

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Re: Pretty sure I failed the bar. Should I let my firm know now?

Postby nealric » Fri Aug 12, 2016 1:26 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:Those pass rates are for everyone, though, not people at big law firms, and given biglaw hiring practices and the correlation between law school grades and bar passage, I'm sure the failures aren't evenly distributed across all legal jobs. (That's not endorsing that failing at biglaw dooms you, I just don't think that the 40% failing rate in California means that anything close to 40% of California biglaw associates failed.)


T14 Pass rates are usually above 90% (except maybe Cali). T4s and unaccredited/provisional schools really bring down the pass rates. The vast majority of failures from T14 schools are likely absolute bottom of the class, people who came down with a serious illness, or people who are taking a new state and didn't really study. If you have a V5 offer, studied, weren't physically absent for a significant portion, and did not have the flu during the exam, there's a 99% chance you passed.

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Re: Pretty sure I failed the bar. Should I let my firm know now?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Aug 12, 2016 1:31 pm

nealric wrote:
A. Nony Mouse wrote:Those pass rates are for everyone, though, not people at big law firms, and given biglaw hiring practices and the correlation between law school grades and bar passage, I'm sure the failures aren't evenly distributed across all legal jobs. (That's not endorsing that failing at biglaw dooms you, I just don't think that the 40% failing rate in California means that anything close to 40% of California biglaw associates failed.)


T14 Pass rates are usually above 90% (except maybe Cali). T4s and unaccredited/provisional schools really bring down the pass rates. The vast majority of failures from T14 schools are likely absolute bottom of the class, people who came down with a serious illness, or people who are taking a new state and didn't really study. If you have a V5 offer, studied, weren't physically absent for a significant portion, and did not have the flu during the exam, there's a 99% chance you passed.


This is true. OP, youre more than likely fine. Enjoy your summer.

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Re: Pretty sure I failed the bar. Should I let my firm know now?

Postby NotMyRealName09 » Fri Aug 12, 2016 1:33 pm

http://abovethelaw.com/2016/07/what-hap ... -bar-exam/

This is directly on point. It seems that general answer is failing once is no big deal at all in most BigLaw. I'm not BigLaw so don't know from experience, but yeah, don't stress, just wait and see.

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Re: Pretty sure I failed the bar. Should I let my firm know now?

Postby dood » Fri Aug 12, 2016 1:39 pm

i was in your spot and I contacted my firm. I passed.

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Re: Pretty sure I failed the bar. Should I let my firm know now?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Aug 12, 2016 1:45 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
nealric wrote:
A. Nony Mouse wrote:Those pass rates are for everyone, though, not people at big law firms, and given biglaw hiring practices and the correlation between law school grades and bar passage, I'm sure the failures aren't evenly distributed across all legal jobs. (That's not endorsing that failing at biglaw dooms you, I just don't think that the 40% failing rate in California means that anything close to 40% of California biglaw associates failed.)


T14 Pass rates are usually above 90% (except maybe Cali). T4s and unaccredited/provisional schools really bring down the pass rates. The vast majority of failures from T14 schools are likely absolute bottom of the class, people who came down with a serious illness, or people who are taking a new state and didn't really study. If you have a V5 offer, studied, weren't physically absent for a significant portion, and did not have the flu during the exam, there's a 99% chance you passed.


This is true. OP, youre more than likely fine. Enjoy your summer.


And for the love of god this. It will be the last time in, likely, a long time that you will be able to have a restful mind and an extended period of relaxation.

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Re: Pretty sure I failed the bar. Should I let my firm know now?

Postby jbagelboy » Fri Aug 12, 2016 3:45 pm

wons wrote:
jbagelboy wrote:I don't know anyone who says the latter. Every attorney I've spoken to says that failing once is no biggie. Failing twice is where you run into longer term career problems.


This is really wrong - I saw folks posting it on another thread and kind of couldn't believe it. It is a very, very biggie. It basically means that even if you only fail once and pass again, you need to move firms, because you will forever be tarred as the only person who failed in 3 years out of 300+ associates. You may not be fired, per se, but you might as well be.

What makes the bar so intensely unpleasant is that 99% of reasonably qualified people pass (at least in NY) but the consequences for failing are so gigantic. That leads to terrible stress for such an easy test. Who wants to be the asshole that digs a 3 year hole for their career by being that one guy out of 100.

So yeah, do not fail the bar, and if you do, assume that the consequences, though informal, are extremely severe.

That being said, there is hope! The bar is the easiest goddamn exam in the world. I had friends take it with high fevers, passed, with psychiatric issues, passed. With barely studying, passed. The curve is as forgiving as a pair of pants with an elastic waist. Even if you feel certain you failed, do nothing, because nearly everyone with your credentials who is certain they failed actually passed.


Obviously you've seen more than me. Maybe this is how it works at your firm. But I've spoken with several attorneys at big firms in New York and California who failed the bar on the first attempt and have had successful careers, some even making partner. As one example, a Cravath partner told me at a firm recruiting thing a couple years ago straight up that his favorite associate, now a 5th year, failed the bar the first time but not that many people knew.

What you are suggesting is that someone who fails the bar has destroyed their career at their firm. Embarassing? sure. A negative reflection on you? Sure. But a permanent black mark? Where is the evidence of that? Conversely, it always seems like career death in biglaw to fail a second time.

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Re: Pretty sure I failed the bar. Should I let my firm know now?

Postby jbagelboy » Fri Aug 12, 2016 3:46 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:Those pass rates are for everyone, though, not people at big law firms, and given biglaw hiring practices and the correlation between law school grades and bar passage, I'm sure the failures aren't evenly distributed across all legal jobs. (That's not endorsing that failing at biglaw dooms you, I just don't think that the 40% failing rate in California means that anything close to 40% of California biglaw associates failed.)


I think CA's rate is actually more like 43% pass, or 57% fail

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Re: Pretty sure I failed the bar. Should I let my firm know now?

Postby wons » Fri Aug 12, 2016 4:13 pm

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Last edited by wons on Thu Sep 01, 2016 7:33 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Pretty sure I failed the bar. Should I let my firm know now?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Fri Aug 12, 2016 4:17 pm

jbagelboy wrote:
A. Nony Mouse wrote:Those pass rates are for everyone, though, not people at big law firms, and given biglaw hiring practices and the correlation between law school grades and bar passage, I'm sure the failures aren't evenly distributed across all legal jobs. (That's not endorsing that failing at biglaw dooms you, I just don't think that the 40% failing rate in California means that anything close to 40% of California biglaw associates failed.)


I think CA's rate is actually more like 43% pass, or 57% fail

That sounds right. But I'm pretty sure that doesn't mean that 57% of people starting in biglaw this fall who took the CA bar failed.

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Re: Pretty sure I failed the bar. Should I let my firm know now?

Postby jbagelboy » Fri Aug 12, 2016 4:57 pm

wons wrote:
jbagelboy wrote:
Obviously you've seen more than me. Maybe this is how it works at your firm. But I've spoken with several attorneys at big firms in New York and California who failed the bar on the first attempt and have had successful careers, some even making partner. As one example, a Cravath partner told me at a firm recruiting thing a couple years ago straight up that his favorite associate, now a 5th year, failed the bar the first time but not that many people knew.

What you are suggesting is that someone who fails the bar has destroyed their career at their firm. Embarassing? sure. A negative reflection on you? Sure. But a permanent black mark? Where is the evidence of that? Conversely, it always seems like career death in biglaw to fail a second time.


I'm basing it less on my firm (to my knowledge, we've had no failers since I've been here) and more on what I've been told by close family / friends at other places. It's roughly equivalent to making a catastrophic mistake on an assignment as a first year - you might be fired, you might not; if you're not fired you might recover (and you even might get the "highest bonus" in you class down the road (eye roll)). But it's digging a giant hole for yourself at minimum and it could get you pushed out at worst.

I don't think it serves anyone's interest to downplay how big a deal it is to fail the bar. The reason OP shouldn't be stressed (and they shouldn't be) is because there's a 99% chance they passed regardless of how they feel, not because you get a free pass to fail once.


You are under-representing the chances of failure IMO. Let's take CA. Among the T14, about 108 students failed the California bar (the only school where I couldn't find exact data was Cornell). While students at Georgetown and Northwestern failed quite a bit more often, the rest is pretty evenly distributed (i.e., US News doesn't correlate well with bar passage and it changes each year)--for example, in 2014, 25% of YLS students that took it failed the CA bar. Last year, 13 HLS students, 5 CLS students, 6 NYU students, and a dozen or so SLS students failed the CA bar--and we can safely assume all of these people, or nearly all of them, had jobs at firms or clerkships leading to jobs at firms.

So even if one limits one's survey to those persons most likely to be working at large law firms (T14, or even T6), nowhere near 99% are passing. More like high 80%s. Are all of those people being left out to dry?

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Re: Pretty sure I failed the bar. Should I let my firm know now?

Postby wons » Fri Aug 12, 2016 6:49 pm

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