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Building friction to make a spark

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Is there anyone else taking the bar exam on Tuesday, July 24, 2012 who is up at 4:00a.m. today?  It seems like caffeine isn’t even necessary this close to the exam; the constant pressure of the inevitable testing day is about all it takes.

I am clearly convinced that studying for the bar exam is so much more than committing substantive law to memory.  First, it is important to understand how the questions are written and to know what to determine when reviewing the alternatives in the MBE questions and what are the key points examiners want to read in the MEE.  Iowa has the MPT and I do intend to spend time reviewing BarBri’s lecture and outline and doing practice tests, but not until this weekend.

In addition to substantive law and understanding the method of assessment, I think the most important part of the bar review process is self-care. 

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Welcome Home!

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Geoff and Graham came home from their week-long stay Arkansas on Thursday night.  They left the Friday before and spent the week with Geoff’s parents in Belle Vista.  We had talked about going down as a family for a week or two in July, but after I spent four days at the farm with uninterrupted time to study for the bar exam we decided it was good if I stayed home.

I missed my Graham-man dearly.  The only other time I was apart from him for a week was the first time he was in Arkansas in March while I worked on pain management for my back.  The mommy guilt sets in, of course.  Graham would have the time of his life with grandma and grandpa and they were tickled to have their grandson for a full week.  But the underlying purpose was so mommy could study for the bar exam.  Then I rationalize that he won’t remember being apart, he won’t miss me that often, he will benefit in the long run because I am taking the bar exam. 

But none of those reasons matter.  It was time to throw guilt out the window. 

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My 50th blog! Look how far you have come.

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I think I am like most people when it comes to stress and tormenting myself.  If I am overwhelmed or stressed about something present or in the imminent future, I minimalize all of my successes leading to where I am.

I started blogging in October 2010.  I loved it immediately.  I wanted to blog my entire 1L year but there was not a single minute available between being a new mom, new law student and a new resident of Des Moines.  Instead of blogging, I spent my 1L summer writing a book called “Law School Mom”.  My intent was to take what I would have been blogging had I had the time.  I am really proud of my book and hope you consider making it part of your e-book collection.

I like to go gangbusters when I find something I enjoy. 

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Excessive Entanglement 

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“If I can pass, anyone can pass.”  That statement is not a helpful phrase for a bar exam candidate nor is it helpful for the licensed attorney making the statement.  Our conduct, decisions, accomplishments and challenges are part of who we are as a person.  It is easy to make the statement “It will be ok if I don’t pass the first time.”  In reality, I will be ok; as much as the next person.  But the bar exam is more than one outcome at the end of a very long commitment to the legal profession; the bar exam is excessively entangled with our self-esteem.

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My style of learning 

This image is from 1L first semester finals taken by Geoff and blogged at

“All you have to do is pass”

“It is pass/fail”

“You just have to get a D”

“It is minimal competency”

“You will pass”

“You will be fine”

These are a few phrases I have heard the last year regarding the bar exam.  That should make a person who is being tested over sixteen subjects worth of material (from memory) feel better.  If the real questions are as hard as the BarBri questions (which I am told they are not), I will be tested on an average of five concepts for one substantive area of law in a single question. 

It isn’t a Contract question of “is it an offer”?  It starts with a possible offer (disguised in an invitation including a specific request to a designated offeree) with detailed terms that may or may not be included in the contract, subject to a condition by the offeror, requesting acceptance by mail (Mailbox Rule applicable?), but has a deadline. 

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