Failing the Bar Exam & Impact on Big Law Job

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placidstate

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Failing the Bar Exam & Impact on Big Law Job

Postby placidstate » Fri Aug 02, 2019 5:42 pm

So I’m pretty sure I failed the most recent CA Bar Exam (probably 95% sure). I thought the essays were hard and couldn’t finish some of them (even though the general consensus seems to say that they’re easier than normal), and didn’t have time to do the MPT beyond creating the headings. The MBE surprisingly was not as convoluted as Barbri’s, but at that time I think I may have been resigned to my fate and likely didn’t scrutinize the problems enough.

After mourning about it for some days and fighting an emotional roller coaster during these post-exam days (i.e., It’s okay to fail, even Jerry Brown and Hillary did vs. Why did I spend 14 hours a day for the last 8 weeks and still not pass how dumb must I be), I guess I just want to know how bad does it look to Big Law if you fail the bar and how often does it occur? Will I be the lone sheep that will need to re-do and everyone will be aware of this?

Thanks TLS, you guys have been a great source of support during bar study

QContinuum

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Re: Failing the Bar Exam & Impact on Big Law Job

Postby QContinuum » Fri Aug 02, 2019 5:50 pm

Generally you'll get a second chance at the bar in February. If you fail a second time, then you will be let go. There shouldn't be any major impact on your career so long as you pass the second time.

Also, don't count yourself out yet! There's still every chance you actually passed. Most of us here on TLS are used to doing well on tests. I don't think any of us is accustomed to turning in C/D-level performance. But that kind of minimally competent work is all that's needed to pass the bar. Stay positive and don't psych yourself out.

Ramstein1111

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Re: Failing the Bar Exam & Impact on Big Law Job

Postby Ramstein1111 » Fri Aug 02, 2019 6:10 pm

1. I wouldn’t worry until I know the actual result.

2. If you do end up failing, disclose to your firm. Failing the first time is generally OK, but not affirmatively disclosing the failure may get you fired.

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Yea All Right

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Re: Failing the Bar Exam & Impact on Big Law Job

Postby Yea All Right » Fri Aug 02, 2019 6:58 pm

Chin up friend. I know 4 biglaw attorneys who failed on their first attempt at the CA bar exam, and all passed on their second try and are still in biglaw. I also know 3 other biglaw attorneys who are barred in NY but lateraled to CA and thus had to take the CA bar exam, and they failed on their first attempt too (not sure what their results are).

If you do end up not passing, your firm will in all likelihood allow you to take it a second time. At that point you should focus on refining your study habits - study smarter, not longer, as they say. Personally I found that Adaptibar, Critical Pass flashcards, and at least outlining essays when I was running out of steam to all be helpful.

Separately, my opinion is that the phrase "minimum competency" doesn't apply when it comes to the CA bar exam. It's damn hard.

placidstate

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Re: Failing the Bar Exam & Impact on Big Law Job

Postby placidstate » Sat Aug 03, 2019 5:41 pm

Thanks everyone for the response, I'm going to try to enjoy my break before I start in a month. As @yea all right said, I trusted BARBRI blindly even though I felt like it didn't really work for me and will change my study plan if I need to retake. I do have two quick follow-up questions though and hope somebody can give an answer:

1. Does it matter to them in making the decision to give a second chance that you weren't a summer associate? I was offered a job during my last semester of my 3L year, so I haven't had a chance to build connection with anyone or do any work for the firm.

2. My offer letter mentioned timely admission to the CA Bar and that I am required to take the July CBX. I'm not sure if that's just a safety precaution all firm takes in case you really screw up and they have good cause to fire you, but nonetheless you get a second chance. Or if that's indicating this particular firm would not give an opportunity for retaking the Bar.

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Wild Card

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Re: Failing the Bar Exam & Impact on Big Law Job

Postby Wild Card » Sat Aug 03, 2019 5:57 pm

When results are released, your coworkers will look up your name, know that you didn't pass, and word will get out.

Your firm will give you another chance. If you fail again, you will be fired. This policy was written into my offer letter. It wouldn't hurt you at all to get clarification from HR.

It's nbd, besides your coworkers judging you.

dabigchina

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Re: Failing the Bar Exam & Impact on Big Law Job

Postby dabigchina » Sat Aug 03, 2019 6:04 pm

Wild Card wrote:When results are released, your coworkers will look up your name, know that you didn't pass, and word will get out.

Your firm will give you another chance. If you fail again, you will be fired. This policy was written into my offer letter. It wouldn't hurt you at all to get clarification from HR.

It's nbd, besides your coworkers judging you.

Nobody is going to judge OP for failing the CA bar. I certainly wouldn't - I walked out last year thinking for sure I had failed.

cavalier1138

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Re: Failing the Bar Exam & Impact on Big Law Job

Postby cavalier1138 » Sat Aug 03, 2019 6:55 pm

dabigchina wrote:
Wild Card wrote:When results are released, your coworkers will look up your name, know that you didn't pass, and word will get out.

Your firm will give you another chance. If you fail again, you will be fired. This policy was written into my offer letter. It wouldn't hurt you at all to get clarification from HR.

It's nbd, besides your coworkers judging you.

Nobody is going to judge OP for failing the CA bar. I certainly wouldn't - I walked out last year thinking for sure I had failed.


Who the fuck has the time or inclination to look up their coworkers for this kind of stuff? Why would I care if Sally Stub-Year passed or not?

run26.2

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Re: Failing the Bar Exam & Impact on Big Law Job

Postby run26.2 » Sat Aug 03, 2019 10:05 pm

At my biglaw firm, we were at a practice group off-site meeting, and had just finished dinner when the results were released. The partners were at the bar asking the first years to check the results on their phones. :x

placidstate

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Re: Failing the Bar Exam & Impact on Big Law Job

Postby placidstate » Sat Aug 03, 2019 10:33 pm

run26.2 wrote:At my biglaw firm, we were at a practice group off-site meeting, and had just finished dinner when the results were released. The partners were at the bar asking the first years to check the results on their phones. :x


Oh no... That sounds like my nightmare. And what happened to those that failed..? :shock:

run26.2

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Re: Failing the Bar Exam & Impact on Big Law Job

Postby run26.2 » Sun Aug 04, 2019 2:36 pm

placidstate wrote:
run26.2 wrote:At my biglaw firm, we were at a practice group off-site meeting, and had just finished dinner when the results were released. The partners were at the bar asking the first years to check the results on their phones. :x


Oh no... That sounds like my nightmare. And what happened to those that failed..? :shock:

Lol. Yeah. Those that stayed there were doing shots. I had bailed a bit earlier to meet some other people.

Fortunately, nobody failed (there were only a handful of us that took that state and that were in that practice group).

onemoretimenow

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Re: Failing the Bar Exam & Impact on Big Law Job

Postby onemoretimenow » Sun Aug 04, 2019 11:39 pm

OP, don't stress out. As others have said, the general rule is two attempts. I know people who failed the bar the first time and have been perfectly fine.

There is nothing you can do at this point. First off, take some time off to untangle your mind. After you take some time to untangle, just lightly keep brushing up to maintain your knowledge base while evaluating what changes you might need made if November results are not positive.

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Yea All Right

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Re: Failing the Bar Exam & Impact on Big Law Job

Postby Yea All Right » Mon Aug 05, 2019 1:27 am

placidstate wrote:1. Does it matter to them in making the decision to give a second chance that you weren't a summer associate? I was offered a job during my last semester of my 3L year, so I haven't had a chance to build connection with anyone or do any work for the firm.

2. My offer letter mentioned timely admission to the CA Bar and that I am required to take the July CBX. I'm not sure if that's just a safety precaution all firm takes in case you really screw up and they have good cause to fire you, but nonetheless you get a second chance. Or if that's indicating this particular firm would not give an opportunity for retaking the Bar.


1. It doesn't help that they don't know you as well, but there's nothing you can do about that now. No point in worrying about it.

2. The definition of "timely" is purposely vague on purpose to give them flexibility, I think. IMO you will likely get a second chance if needed. If you pass on your second try then by the time you get admitted it'd likely still be within a year of your start date. Also it just said you are required to take the July bar exam, not pass it.

On that note, when you start at the firm be the best associate possible (responsiveness, attention to detail, attitude, etc). This will make them like you more and thus less inclined to fire you if indeed you do fail the bar exam.

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rcharter1978

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Re: Failing the Bar Exam & Impact on Big Law Job

Postby rcharter1978 » Mon Aug 05, 2019 11:13 am

I was convinced I had failed the second time I took the bar and I didn't even check results online, because why would I ruin my weekend? I just figured I'd wait for my scores to come on Monday to see if my scores had at least improved.

I nearly had a damn heart attack when that letter said I passed. Amazing feeling.

Now, if you really couldn't get past the headings for the PT, that's maybe a rough situation but you never know. Life goes on if you don't pass and once you do, it's all in your rearview mirror so fast.

I can remember it all being a shitty time in my life but other than that.....not much.

Good luck and as everyone said from what I've heard most people at least get a second shot. And take heart, lots of successful people find the bar a challenge. Antonio villarigosa (sp) never passed the bar exam and look at that guy.. he was the mayor of LA!

RandyMarsh

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Re: Failing the Bar Exam & Impact on Big Law Job

Postby RandyMarsh » Fri Aug 09, 2019 11:24 am

Failed once. Passed second go. NY. Was totally fine. At a v5 firm. I had a legitimate reason to be distracted in terms of studying, which I won't get into, but that doesn't matter to your employers anyways.

The partners and folks at my firm were encouraging and the judgement by others was minimal I'd say. Again, this aspect I am sure is law firm dependent, and I imagine you summered with the firm youre joining, so you will likely have a sense of what some people will think. And though it sounds bad, if you're well-liked by members of the firm, this will soften the blow even more.

Do stay positive, but stay realistic too. From the time you get the result you failed to the time you get the result you (hopefully) passed from the February exam, you will be in a constant anxious state. You won't be able to escape it. And quite literally, your job likely depends on it. I know a person at my firm who failed California twice and was let go. The thing is though, figure out what you did the first time and figure out what will work better going forward.

You'll also have the benefit of having sat for the exam once and studied to inform you. You won't remember everything, but studying the second time around was way easier in my opinion.

Now, nobody cares at all that I failed (if people ever really did) and my staffing on matters has not been impacted by it at all. I will say, don't ever lie about passing or failing to any colleagues, first year or otherwise. It's a good way for people not to trust you, and that's the type of thing that can hurt you long term.

Just keep your head down and stay focused if you did fail and if you passed, well then you don't have much to worry about. But know, it's not the end of the road if you did, just an obnoxious road block.



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