For those of you who aren't familiar, daruma dolls are hollow and round Japanese wish dolls with no arms or legs, modelled after Bodhidharma. Using black ink, one fills in a single circular eye while thinking of a wish. Should the wish later come true, the second eye is filled in. I purchased a daruma when I began studying for the bar exam again in May. And after popular request I bring you my daruma before and after.
It seems like this week has gone on forever. Not that I'm doing anything terribly stressful mind you, but just because by this time last week I was packing up and heading out for the holiday. Instead, I'm at my desk, slowly freezing to death, and trying to make myself useful. And by making myself useful today, I came as close as I ever have to doing actual lawyer stuff. And I'll admit, I enjoyed it. Got to draft a letter and everything, but at the last moment came to my senses and remembered not to inadvertently pass myself off as a lawyer by only putting my name and no title while using firm letterhead. Who knew that taking Professional Responsibility in law school was actually useful for other than passing the MPRE? My professor would be so proud. Instead, I will take the private satisfaction of being an almost attorney.
Yes, it is Monday, and for a four day weekend I feel jipped. Being on the road will do that, as we only really had one day to relax and kick back. While it was good to see lots of people, part of me really wished I was home eating turkey and conking out on my own couch. I only had one nap the entire weekend and that was more related to the inability to sleep well at the hotel rather than turkey-induced coma. Still, it was a success overall.
I will update my daruma as soon as I can. It needs to be posed just so to capture my true feelings about the experience, and that takes some thought. Here's hoping your holiday was happy and thankful, and hoping that this week goes as smoothly as possible.
This is normally my favorite holiday of the year. Kick back, eat turkey, eat more turkey...sleep...have a roll, you know the drill. My family used to have these gigantic get togethers...30 people at a couple banquet tables in my grandparents' living room, passing food until it either ran out or we couldn't eat anymore. It was boisterous, fun, and very satisfying. My grandmother isn't with us anymore, and with her passing ended the big to-do. Today finds me traveling away for the holiday, for the first time ever. But I'm still thankful for everything that happened this year, the good and the bad, the happy and the sad. So eat an extra roll for me, drink a glass of wine and smile. Happy Thanksgiving!
After selling off a nice chunk of bar review books last night, I got to thinking about what I should tell you about studying for the bar exam. Now, I realize you may not want to get advice from someone who took the exam three times, but I'm sure some of you don't want to go down the same path, so here goes.
Now, if I knew exactly what I did this time that made such a big difference, I'd tell you straight up. However, I haven't the foggiest clue. So let me tell you what I did up to that point.
First trip: Took Pieper. Hindsight being what it is, I shouldn't have taken Pieper. Great course and all, but so not my thing. The key to Pieper is mnemonics. Some people live and die by mnemonics, but I've never been one to premise an entire study pattern around random word combinations. By the end of the course you get close to 200 mnemonics. I can't even remember one, let alone what the word stood for. I also had 300 pages of notes by the end of the course. No amount of trying could cook that many pages down to something tolerable. I also took PMBR this time too. Both the 6 day and the 3 day. The 6 day conflicted with our review course, and the 3 day just sent me into an absolute panic. I think those three days signaled to me that I had a snowball's chance in hell of passing. I was right. Scarily enough though, my score on the NY Multiple Choice was surprisingly high, which gave me hope that I knew something about something.
Second trip: You really need to come to terms with what happened the first time in order to be successful the second time. I was unemployed, in a funk, and honestly didn't try nearly hard enough. I bought a set of Micromash materials, and worked on the MBE section, with reviewing what I needed for the essays. Also bought a set of flashcards from Ebay which came with a set of Bar-Bri notes. (Anyone want a set of flashcards? They're lovely multi-colored ones.) Spent sometime in Starbucks, tried my hand sitting in the local library, but honestly could not find a decent place to study that let me work as hard as I needed. Strike two. And this time, the Multiple Choice sucked too, though my essays had come up from the first trip. The MBE was nearly identical from the first time.
Third trip: Devastated isn't the word for it. Doubted why I went to law school, feared for any career let alone a legal one, and found it hard to get out of bed. Knew I needed to work somewhere doing something in order to get my life in order. And sure enough, up popped a marketing temp job. It got me out of bed in the morning, let me feel somewhat decent about myself, and most importantly, gave me structure to my day. Early on, I really doubted whether I could work full time and study too, but fate being the fickle being it is, my work situation smoothed out to the point that as long as I could get my tasks done, I could spend time reading at my desk. I was covering material like never before, thanks to my great friend who gave me his entire BarBri collection since he had passed in February. I was working on MBE questions on the computer and following the paced program (albeit haphazardly). Still though, I felt like I needed something more, so I fell back to a pattern that worked for the LSAT. Take a three day course. This time, one specifically for the essays. I would have liked to taken the longer one that included the MBE, but it would have involved nearly nine hotel nights, copious train travel, and much more money. So I went, a week before the exam, and worked on the essays intensively for three days. I spent my evenings in a hotel trying not to panic and working on MBE questions. I felt really good about the first day of the exam, but the MBE was brutal, and unlike either of the two previous tries. This time though, I squeezed an extra 20 points out of that sucker. Still haven't a clue why.
And yet, the last time I had my spouse look up the results for me. I decided instead to drive to work at the very moment they were posted. I knew I couldn't handle being alone when I punched in the digits. And while parking my car, a call came through (nearly 20 minutes after the top of the hour), with the words "Congratulations." My spouse may have lost some hearing in an ear because of the screaming that ensued. That moment was priceless to me.
So at the end of the day, nothing replaces constant preparation and the right mindset. It's not a matter of wanting it to happen...because goodness knows I wanted it to happen the first time. Everything happens for a reason, and when it's your time it will happen. Cry the tears now, suck it up and move on. It's awful and you feel like your life is on hold. Only now do I feel like I can breathe again, and even now I feel like I've lost a year out of my career because of that damn test. But I did pass, and I will be a lawyer...if I can only figure out where I worked in 1996.
It's a new day of a new week of a new life. The weekend was spent in contemplation of what all I and my spouse can do now that this albatross is gone from my neck. We can vacation in February...or July. Or June or January for that matter. We can totally reorganize an entire room of our house since I don't need to hole up in there to study anymore. In fact, there will be no studying of any type now. We're both done with school and that's a fact. We can't remember what this other room used to look like before we put the desk in there. I think we should turn it into a small library. I've always wanted a library in my house. In the meantime, I keep having the strangest dreams. Last night, I was buying an old Victorian home so I could turn the front parlor into an office and hang out my shingle. The subconscious is such a weird and wonderful thing. Tomorrow I think I'll post all my tips/flaws/thoughts on the Bar, since I never in a million years expected all the blog love I got. Laters gators.
I'm truly official. It came in the mail yesterday and said that it wasn't a hallucination, I did actually pass. That ominous language regarding reliability of scores on the lookup screen can be ignored now. And in a pleasant turn of events, my MBE score included in the report is high enough for me to waive into the District of Columbia if I so choose. Time to look in the couch cushions for an extra $800. And in proving the statement that everything happens for a reason, I found out yesterday that my services in my current position will not be needed after December 31. To which I nearly blurted out, "Well this is a fine time to tell me, right before the holidays." Biting one's tongue that hard hurts. So instead, I will need to schmooze my way around our little celebratory party tonight here at the firm and make sure everyone I've worked with knows that I'm being shown the door. Network baby network. The signs are pointing to something, I just have to figure out what.
I am not hungover this morning. In fact I slept fantastically well last night. I keep smiling for no apparent reason. (And for me, that's uncharacteristically odd.) I've been asked now a few times what my plans are, and honestly, I don't know but I have a few things on my plate right now. First thing to do is to actually finish my fitness and character paperwork. In NY, we do it after the test, and I could have been working on it all this time, but I always worried if I failed it again that I'd have to ask everyone all over again for letters (each legal job I've held requires a letter to be sent to the Board of Law Examiners), and I didn't want to embarass myself, so I've never completed the paperwork. Next thing to do is update my resume with whatever it's supposed to say after you passed but haven't been sworn in. (Once again, in the dark on this one too.) And third I suppose is to find myself a job that belongs to a real live lawyer. While I enjoy what I do, I'm still a temp and have no benefits. I need an upgrade at least. In the meantime, I'll just keep smiling inappropriately and looking up things like a library researcher. Thanks again everybody!
It's been 18 months since I graduated law school. I've been through 3 New York Bar Exams. Today is the day that New York posted their pass lists for the July 2006 exam.
And yes, I am crying right now as I write this. It's been so hard. I want to thank every one of you for being supportive and helpful during all of this. I will write more later once I comprehend what this means. In the meantime, in the words of Bill S. Preston, Esq. and Ted "Theodore" Logan, "Be excellent to each other and party on, dudes!!"
A friend of mine at work told me the news Friday. NY puts their Bar lists up on Tuesday at 9:00 a.m. I would have been happier not knowing, but what was done was done. I've been through this before. I can't control my destiny, it was decided when I finished the exam in July. There are things in my life right now that make it so I really truly hope...deep in my heart, that this time I did pass. Time is running out for someone very near and dear to me who has been patiently waiting for me to become a lawyer. May would probably be too far away to wait. I'm probably more emotional about it this time. I have been able to sleep at night, but driving into work with my thoughts makes me nauseous to the point of nearly pulling over. So tomorrow, the posting will appear, and when I arrive at work, I'll sit quietly at my desk, my heart in my throat, tears streaming down my face and hope against hope that this time it worked. Hang tight people.
A Massachusetts judge has settled it: A burrito is not a sandwich. Panera Bread had claimed that the White City Shopping Center violated an agreement to keep out other sandwich shops when it rented space to Qdoba Mexican Grill. Panera sued, saying that Qdoba's burritos were sandwiches. Qdoba countered with testimony from a former USDA bigwig and a chef, who said calling a burrito a sandwich "would be absurd to any credible chef or culinary historian." The judge said the dictionary was clear: A sandwich has two slices of bread, a burrito has a single tortilla. Case closed. (From The Boston Globe.)
I'll admit, I had fun last night watching the results come in. I'm a news junkie, I'll be the first to tell you that. So I was in a good mood going into work this morning. That being said, to the woman driving the Toyota I was following this morning, you don't know how close you came to getting a mascara wand in your eye. Yes, I saw you putting on your mascara at each of the two lights I had the misfortune to be stuck behind you. You had to put it back in the tube every time the light turned green, once you realized it was green that is...leaving me to call you not nice things. But, and this is where you should thank me, I came --><-- this close to blowing my horn in the middle of the red light, just to watch you jab yourself in the eye with your mascara. Yeah it's evil I know, but you deserved it. And yet, I didn't do it. Call it the pleasant afterglow from the election, but I just let you drive on oblivious. Next time, you won't be so lucky. Consider yourself warned.
Happy Election Day! Yes, today is the day where we get to decide the fate of our little chunks of the world. I haven't missed an election since I turned 18. I haven't actually gone out and voted yet today though. See, my polling place is at an elementary school. Instead of allowing the kids to have a day off and make it much easier for us hard working people to go vote...perhaps even making the kids tag along, we have to fight our way into already overcrowded school parking lots. I made the mistake of trying to vote in the morning a couple years back. I nearly got into a fistfight with a guy in an orange vest who thought he was a policeman. So, being a person who tries to avoid conflicts whenever possible, I'll just go after work when the kiddies aren't there. So, in the immortal words of Al Capone, "Vote early, vote often!"
Normally, I'm pretty put together on a Monday morning. I know what I'm doing, and when I've got to do it. Today? All went out the window. I forgot my wedding ring. I forgot my iPod. I forgot to bring my lunch. Luckily, I remembered money. I had to remember my keys, else I wouldn't be at work now. And to top it off, since it's now November, no vendors nearby to grab a quick bite. I ended up hoofing it about a dozen blocks for a giant burrito. The way I see it, all that walking helped to counteract said burrito. Mmmm....burrito. Anything else I should be remembering about now?
Part of my job is to update volumes in the library. Sometimes boring, drudge work, I try to make it bit more interesting in glancing over the material as I update it in the books. Today I updated Labor Guides, and in particular state specific materials. Each state had its own little section on wage law, garnishment, hours, and holidays. It amazed me how many states do not have a minimum wage at all, but rather are reliant on whatever the federal standard is. Secondly, this "training wage" stuff sounds like a scam. If you're under 20, certain states allow an employer to pay even less than minumum wage for at least 90 days in most cases under the guise of training. What's to keep an employer to firing the person at the end of the period and get some other poor young schlub? And lastly, certain states have some damn strange holidays. Most states actually have election day as a legal holiday, including my own. Of course, the "legal holidays" only apply to state workers, as if they need an excuse for more days off. I say make it a holiday for everyone. And even stranger yet, some states include Saturday from 12:00pm to 12:00am Sunday as a holiday. Why? I'm not quite sure, but any excuse for some time off, right?
I'm no longer a law student, but for those of my readers who are, you might be interested in the following:
The American College of Trial Lawyers (ACTL), one of the premier professional organizations composed of the best trial lawyers in the U.S. and Canada, announces its sponsorship of an essay contest for law students on the topic of “Judicial Independence and the Separation of Powers Doctrine.” The contest’s first place and second place winners will receive cash prizes of $10,000 and $5,000, respectively. The contest is open to all students at law schools in the United States (including those studying for their J.D., L.L.M, or other graduate degrees). Essays, which should be approximately 5,000 words, are due by March 1, 2007 and can be submitted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The American College of Trial Lawyers is an honorary association comprised of experienced trial lawyers in the United States and Canada who have mastered the art of advocacy and adhere to the highest standards of ethical conduct and professionalism. The College is dedicated to furthering the administration of justice and improving the ethics and standards of the trial profession. The College’s Fellowship represents all branches of trial practice enabling the organization to speak with a balanced voice on important issues affecting the legal profession and the administration of justice. The organization’s current membership includes 5,600 lawyers and Judicial Fellows. For more information, visit www.actl.com.
My days are just packed, and this time I mean it. I guess it's like being a lawyer, but none of the glory, and none of the pay. At one point today I had at least 6 active projects, and not enough time to do anything well. And that's what angers me. I want to do the work, but I want to give it my full attention. With this much going on at once, nothing is as polished as I'd like. I just hope I'm leaving a good impression, because all I feel is exhausted. And remember, I'm just a temp. Goodness knows I'm reminded of that on a daily basis.