Huge Delimma: Withdraw Bar Exam or Intentionally Fail Bar

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Lawness_Nonsense
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Huge Delimma: Withdraw Bar Exam or Intentionally Fail Bar

Postby Lawness_Nonsense » Wed Jul 18, 2012 2:06 pm

Background:

After graduating in the top 5% of my class [T40ish] and failing to secure any form of post-graduate employment [got close at gvt. and a few big firms], coupled with an -insane- last semester [published 40 page law review article + 18 credit hours + 45 page graduation paper + 3 internships], I entered bar exam season absolutely demoralized and exhausted.

Bar exam study started off well. However, I have always struggled with rote memorization and standardized testing (150 LSAT after 3 tries, wheee). I pushed myself really hard, but began to slowly slip into what has blown out to -severe- depression (including severe insomnia, anti-social tendencies, and anxiety attacks). The depression was caused by a mix of mental exhaustion, hopeless for the state of the job market, the fact I "blew" realistic chances at prestigious post-graduate employment, and the realization that I owe $150,000 in nondischargable debt.

In sum, I found it increasingly difficult to study arbitrary "legal" concepts [which are not even binding law in my jurisdiction] in order to satisfy yet another artificial barrier to a dead-end and laughably terrible job market. Sadly, I cannot afford counseling or therapy. I have no previous history of mental illness. I've managed to remain relatively sane by adopting a "F the law" mentality and largely ignoring bar study. I hate law. I cannot stress that sentence hard enough; I'll spare you the numerous reasons.

Anyhow, I am taking the bar in a state with about a 65% pass rate. I have only viewed the Barbri lectures and done outlines. I struggle to force myself to do practice materials; even when I have, I cannot focus, do not retain any of the information, and move at the pace of a sloth. It feels as if I have no motivation or ability whatsoever to focus on bar related subjects. I wish I could preform better, but have never felt or experienced anything like this before. It's really weird.

At this point, I will not pass the bar exam. In the practice MBE and few essays I forced myself to do the last couple of days, I have scored -WELL- below passing margins. Worse, I can barely think about the law without wanting to slam my head into my desk and throw every law-related thing I own into a giant bonfire.

Choices:

I'm certain of only three things: (1) I need a break and time to fix my mental health. I have not had a true break or vacation (due to publication, journal, and internships) for over 2 years now, and it's safe to say that I am likely suffering from severe depression right now; (2) I hate the law for dozens of reasons (not associated with current depression); and (3) student loan debt is incredibly demoralizing.

With this in mind, I must decide the following by the end of this week:

(A) Withdraw Bar Exam - I should withdraw my application for the bar exam, live off my bar loans for a while and get some sort of non-law related work till December, and consider re-taking the bar in February if I decide that I can function within the legal field and fix these symptoms of depression.

Advantages: No "failed the bar" stigma; $300 application refund; some sanity boosts; "f the law" and dip like a boss.
Disadvantages: No free Bar/Bri repeat [cannot afford cost of repeat otherwise]; potential emotional problems over withdrawing.

(B) Intentionally Fail the Bar Exam - I should sit for the bar exam, do the best I can, but know that given my current state of preparation, that I will fail the bar exam. Again, I am not being hard on myself or "OMG GONNA FAIL DUDEDZ," I am simply being realistic given my preparation. After the bar exam, I should relax and try to fix my mental health, think about whether I want to practice law, and then re-peat Bar/Bri in the late fall if applicable.

Advantages: Free Bari/Bri repeat; "Yeah dudes, I took the bar, not sure if I passed yet" till September.
Disadvantages: "I failed the bar" (in Sept); HORRIBLY low failing score; exacerbation of depression symptoms.

So yeah. For those of you taking the Bar, I wish you the best of luck. You're in a much better boat than I am.

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Objection
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Re: Huge Delimma: Withdraw Bar Exam or Intentionally Fail Bar

Postby Objection » Wed Jul 18, 2012 3:00 pm

Withdraw, my brother.

If you're depressed right now, failing an exam isn't a good way to start the healing process.

Withdraw, get your head on straight, and come back when and if you decide to.

legends159
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Re: Huge Delimma: Withdraw Bar Exam or Intentionally Fail Bar

Postby legends159 » Wed Jul 18, 2012 3:02 pm

I second withdraw. Bar exam is not really a test of intelligence just a test of whether you have put in the work (or can memorize really well) huge amounts of information. Not worth going through the hoops if you don't feel prepared - it won't help you any more or less the next time you take it.

RodneyBoonfield
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Re: Huge Delimma: Withdraw Bar Exam or Intentionally Fail Bar

Postby RodneyBoonfield » Wed Jul 18, 2012 3:10 pm

3rd.

If you're in serious depression, I would put priority on that.

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I.P. Daly
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Re: Huge Delimma: Withdraw Bar Exam or Intentionally Fail Bar

Postby I.P. Daly » Wed Jul 18, 2012 3:13 pm

Do you think the "bar exam experience" would help if you had to retake the exam? The exam experience and the BarBri repeater fee might make it worthwhile to take the July exam.

lobolawyer
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Re: Huge Delimma: Withdraw Bar Exam or Intentionally Fail Bar

Postby lobolawyer » Wed Jul 18, 2012 3:15 pm

I'd take it. You started off studying well, and you've already paid for. Bite the bullet for this last week, roll the dice, and prepare for the worst. Screw the stigma of failing. Set realistic expectations and realize that if you fail so did 35% of the other applicants.

To me, it's way too late in the game to withdraw - absent a death in the family or otherwise extenuating circumstances.

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Mick Haller
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Re: Huge Delimma: Withdraw Bar Exam or Intentionally Fail Bar

Postby Mick Haller » Wed Jul 18, 2012 3:20 pm

I've had similar feelings, although I wouldn't say I "hate the law." I've considered not sitting for the bar, but then again, I've already paid for it and I figure this will be a good practice experience if nothing else.

I say take it, but try to have a positive attitude about it. Treat it as practice. Failing can be either demoralizing or a motivation, depending on your outlook.

rossmca
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Re: Huge Delimma: Withdraw Bar Exam or Intentionally Fail Bar

Postby rossmca » Wed Jul 18, 2012 3:22 pm

1) If you are suffering from depression then take care of that, avoid this bar exam. Health is the number one priority.

2) If you can handle it, take the exam. Just give it your best, go in with your current expectations and treat it as a learning experience. Next time, you'll know what the environment is like, have a better idea of timing and the questions asked, etc.

If you can't afford to re-up on barbri prep, taking this exam nets you $3k (or whatever it is) should you decide you want to take the bar again in Feb. With a clear head and a desire to take the exam, it would be incredibly unfortunate to not be able to pay for some kind of bar prep class, as it would add to the stress and confusion next time. In my opinion, your future well-prepared self will thank you for taking the hit now in order to preserve barbri.

As for taking the ego hit come September, it won't be much of a disaster if you go in with your current expectations. Treat is as a way to gain some insight and preserve the price of barbri, not as a test of your aptitude to be a lawyer. The "Oh you failed a bar exam" stigma only brands those who give it a solid attempt and still fail. Given your situation, it is fair to say you've earned a free pass from the guilt/heartbreak of not passing.

Finally, you are top 5% from a T40. You are good at this shit. You never know unless you give yourself a chance, and the biggest risk is not taking one. If you can handle it, treat it as a learning experience, give it your best shot from here on out, and then take your much needed vacation/break to put all of this behind you.

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rayiner
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Re: Huge Delimma: Withdraw Bar Exam or Intentionally Fail Bar

Postby rayiner » Wed Jul 18, 2012 3:27 pm

What stigma for failing?

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joobacca
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Re: Huge Delimma: Withdraw Bar Exam or Intentionally Fail Bar

Postby joobacca » Wed Jul 18, 2012 3:29 pm

it's tough to give you advice because only you can know if you can power through this final week.

if you know, and i think only you can know, that it's not possible, then fuck it. don't torture yourself.

but if you know you possess the willpower to power through this dog shit fucking crap then do it. you killed law school. this is the last arbitrary step. you're not doing yourself any favor by delaying this, unless there are serious issues that must be addressed now.

and if you know you can, don't count yourself out. you killed law school. NCBEX says there's a positive correlation between class rank and MBE performance. i think the same is true for the state sections. you either have the willpower to do a lot of bullshit, you're really bright, or both. you don't have to kill the exam. min competency. take that to heart and go at it, if you can.

that's just my take.

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Mick Haller
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Re: Huge Delimma: Withdraw Bar Exam or Intentionally Fail Bar

Postby Mick Haller » Wed Jul 18, 2012 3:30 pm

It's not worth losing your sanity over. I was studying 10-12 hours per day for about 2 months straight, and finally became hysterical and completely stressed. So I cut my studying back in half, started sleeping more, eating better, etc., and I feel much better.

If I don't pass the bar, I'm not going to panic. I feel like you and I have similar study techniques, so for us 2 months is not enough time to cram all of this material. Just relax and know that if it didnt work out this time, you'll have plenty of time to focus on this should you choose to retake.

Try taking some long walks and try to reconnect with real people and the real world. There's more to life than law school and the bar exam.

Remember that lots of famous, wealth people have failed the bar exam. Michelle Obama, Jerry Brown, dean of Stanford law, Hillary Clinton, and many many more. It's not the end of the world. Don't worry about what lay people and relatives think. They don't know what it's like to be staring down 2000 pages of BarBri outlines. Don't let them reduce you to a statistic - every person is different. We each have our own limits and study practices. Don't let it bug you when they say "oh you are top 5% and 90% of your classmates pass, so..." Ignore it and do what is best for you.

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fatduck
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Re: Huge Delimma: Withdraw Bar Exam or Intentionally Fail Bar

Postby fatduck » Wed Jul 18, 2012 3:31 pm

rayiner wrote:What stigma for failing?

lunch conversation at work today was about how many times everyone took the bar

it's not even a big deal

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thesealocust
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Re: Huge Delimma: Withdraw Bar Exam or Intentionally Fail Bar

Postby thesealocust » Wed Jul 18, 2012 4:11 pm

rayiner wrote:What stigma for failing?


Big +1.

Yeah, failing the bar will be annoying but it's hardly stigma town. It's a test that manages to thread the needle of having nothing to do with law school (where memorization didn't matter and you were learning/being tested on analytical ability for the most part) or the practice of law (where memorization won't matter). It's stupid an arbitrary. A shit-ton of brilliant, famous lawyers have failed the bar one of more times. A lager number of stupid, poorly educated, crappy lawyers have passed the bar. This is not a test to peg your self-worth to.

I'd hail-marry it at this point if I were you. You can get a bunch of points BSing and guessing at the law. BarBRI's practice materials are much harder/longer/more stupid than the real-deal; you'll see hard questions on the MBE, you'll see long questions on the MBE, but by and large you won't see them at nearly the pace or level of stupidity that you will in the practice.

Lastly, the 65% pass rate inevitably incldues: Foreign lawyers, people who went to unaccredited law schools, and re-takers. All three groups substantially under-perform first time takers from real law schools. It really is a minimum competency test. The people who do the best on the exam will not know all of the law, will make mistakes about the law, and will encounter problems that totally throw them off on the test.

NotMyRealName09
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Re: Huge Delimma: Withdraw Bar Exam or Intentionally Fail Bar

Postby NotMyRealName09 » Wed Jul 18, 2012 5:06 pm

The free barbri retake is worth $3000 or whatever. Just take it and save that $$$. Failure will be more monetarily costly than withdrawl.

And +1 to just hail marrying the exam. At least run through it, see what its like - it can only help for the second time around. I have no doubt it will suck to go into it expecting to fail, but I just don't think it will make you feel worse to "fail" versus "withdrawl." Either option results in the same thing - you have to take it later.

And go see a medical professional. You say you can't afford it - do you qualify for state assistance / Medicaid? You might if you are that broke. You're describing a case of clinical depression. You seem to acknowledge it, and having done well in law school, your sudden lack of motivation is a classic symptom. Not telling you what to do - but you know what you need to do. Get some happy pills, you might get your motivation back.

Oh, and last thing - if you were top 5% at a T40, it is not inconcievable you could wing it through the bar exam. I studied my ass off and was a good student, but for someone top 5%, it might even be possible to pull it out of your ass.

Good luck.

attractive_NUisance
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Re: Huge Delimma: Withdraw Bar Exam or Intentionally Fail Bar

Postby attractive_NUisance » Wed Jul 18, 2012 5:12 pm

Agree you should take it and try your best. You can't win if you don't play.

Also agree you should talk to someone about your depression symptoms. It is pretty common among people with the stressors you are facing and no shame in seeking help from a pro.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Huge Delimma: Withdraw Bar Exam or Intentionally Fail Bar

Postby CanadianWolf » Wed Jul 18, 2012 5:57 pm

You probably passed the California State Bar exam so why cancel ? California's 65% bar pass rate is due to the non-ABA law school takers.

However, if you failed, free BAR/BRI awaits.

WhatWasIthinking
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Re: Huge Delimma: Withdraw Bar Exam or Intentionally Fail Bar

Postby WhatWasIthinking » Wed Jul 18, 2012 6:26 pm

I am in the same boat. I could not get a bar loan and have no familial support. So, to keep a roof over my head (barely), I had to work (while looking for full-time employment) and study part-time. Now, I only have this week off to study full time.

With less than a week to go, I do not feel confident because my practice exams did not go well. I can cut my losses and save the $500 I would have spent on travel and lodging. On the flip side, I can't imagine a future employer giving me a month off to study for the February bar exam.

Decisions. Decisions.

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spleenworship
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Re: Huge Delimma: Withdraw Bar Exam or Intentionally Fail Bar

Postby spleenworship » Wed Jul 18, 2012 6:59 pm

Personally... I would take it and expect to fail. It's probably your best option, it carries the least amount of downsides, and you'll get several months off to make a decision afterwards.

Lawness_Nonsense
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Re: Huge Delimma: Withdraw Bar Exam or Intentionally Fail Bar

Postby Lawness_Nonsense » Wed Jul 18, 2012 7:19 pm

Thanks for the feedback, everyone.

I'll probably take the test next week after reading some of these comments. The practical implications are greater for taking the test and failing (free bar/bri repeat), and at least I'll know what sitting for the Bar exam feels like. Besides, the only real benefit to skipping the exam would be the whole feeling of "F the Law" and dipping like a boss... but hell, doing that in my own way, I suppose.

Will try to get some mental health treatment if I can find a way. Makes me wonder though... I wonder how much of a "mental health" problem I am having to be honest; not sure if it is a fair and honest reaction to the modern legal/school system and crushing student loan debt, or a mental disorder. Have no history of crap like this, and I can identify numerous objective facts that would lead almost any reasonable person to want to kick law violently.

...Sheeesh, it's both insane and ridiculous when I know literally -dozens- of people who have spent the last 3 years working $10-$20 jobs and smoking weed all the time, and they're all in a better financial position (and some actually have marketable employment skills) than most of my graduating class [who have worked like dogs the last three years]. Ha, I hate the law.

Anyhow, thanks for feedback (and F the law).

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facile princeps
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Re: Huge Delimma: Withdraw Bar Exam or Intentionally Fail Bar

Postby facile princeps » Wed Jul 18, 2012 7:31 pm

Sorry to hear. I've never been depressed but i've been sad and somewhat anxious before. I can only imagine how much worse you feel. It's definitely tough to study under those conditions. Hope you get your mind right and take back control of your life. That's what it will take, bro.

Considering your circumstances, take the exam so you'll have the experience and a free Bar/Bri lined up. I don't think failing it will be too hard on you since you're really not expecting/hoping to pass.

If you could somehow find a way to afford the Bar/Bri if you withdraw, that would be the better option, though.

Good luck and keep your head up.

TooOld4This
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Re: Huge Delimma: Withdraw Bar Exam or Intentionally Fail Bar

Postby TooOld4This » Wed Jul 18, 2012 7:54 pm

Take the bar, but continue the "f-the law" attitude.

Stop with the barbri insanity. Read the essays and answers (mentally issue spotting if you have the energy). During the bar don't worry about figuring out the law. Go with your gut on the MBE. On essays, make up a rule and apply it to the facts.

You are so tightly wound right now that trying to do well sounds like it will drive you over the edge. Go in and take the bar and then stop thinking about it for the next several months. Avoid people during bar days (they will all be insane).

As others have said, there is really no stigma to failing.

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LAWYER2
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Re: Huge Delimma: Withdraw Bar Exam or Intentionally Fail Bar

Postby LAWYER2 » Wed Jul 18, 2012 9:52 pm

I know this wasn't an option but I vote to just suck it up and keep going. No need to give up in the final stretch. I know how you feel when it comes to being sick-and-tired of being sick-and-tired! I've been in school over four years STRAIT, working 40hrs a week, w/ a family. At this point, I'd give my left pinky finger to get a freaking break, but that's not an option. Just keep pushing on, get it over with and you'll never have to re-visit this part of your life again.

I just learned this afternoon that a classmate passed away, and it has given me a renewed sense of purpose to achieve the goals I set forth in life to the best of my ability.You just never know what the future holds or even how long it'll hold!

-Good Luck none-the-less!
Last edited by LAWYER2 on Thu Jul 19, 2012 1:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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piccolittle
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Re: Huge Delimma: Withdraw Bar Exam or Intentionally Fail Bar

Postby piccolittle » Thu Jul 19, 2012 11:36 am

LAWYER2 wrote:I know this wasn't an option but I vote to just suck it up and keep going. No need to give up in the final stretch. I know how you feel when it comes to being sick-and-tired of being sick-and-tired! I've been in school over four years STRAIT, working 40hrs a week, w/ a family. At this point, I'd give my left pinky finger to get a freaking break, but that's not an option. Just keep pushing on, get it over with and you'll never have to re-visit this part of your life again.

This. The bar is hard and it's a shitty time for everyone. Honestly, I was never unhappier than when I was studying for the bar. I cried nearly every day. But don't let your attitude get in the way of giving it your best for this last week. No need to study too hard, just study smart. How do you learn best? Is it reading other people's essays and old MBE questions/answers? Is it making flashcards and memorizing the relevant law? At this point I would focus on learning as many state exceptions as you can. You've been through law school, so you can make up the rest of what you don't know. At least this way you can honestly tell employers until September/November that you tried your best and expect to pass.

Don't be a rebel this week. Take the bar and then get super high or whatever does it for you. Good luck!!

Sillygoose31
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Re: Huge Delimma: Withdraw Bar Exam or Intentionally Fail Bar

Postby Sillygoose31 » Thu Jul 19, 2012 11:45 am

Move to Wisconsin.

shock259
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Re: Huge Delimma: Withdraw Bar Exam or Intentionally Fail Bar

Postby shock259 » Thu Jul 19, 2012 1:25 pm

Keep trying to push if at all possible. Find someone to talk to about your problems (doesn't have to be a therapist). If you fail, then you fail. Not the end of the world. If you do, then you can get your head straight, redo your barbri, and pass the next time around. If you don't fail, then you should probably still get your head straight, but you can keep looking for jobs while you do it.

Good luck to you. And remember that you're the only person that knows your limits.




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