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Entries in law school finals (8)

More questions than answers; the Iowa Bar Exam Diploma Privilege

Below is a copy of the comment I submitted during the public comment period for the proposed amendments to rules for licensing Iowa Lawyers, i.e. the proposed diploma privilege.

As one of the small percent of attorneys who failed my first attempt at the bar exam, I wanted to provide some feedback on the proposed change to adopt a diploma privilege for graduates of Drake and The University of Iowa law schools.

Above all, I am glad that I passed the bar, have a license to practice, and don't have to be directly impacted by this change.

I may be indirectly affected, but only time will tell.  I have a solo law practice.  What will my clients perceive if new law students don’t have to pass the bar exam?  Will clients believe that lawyers should charge less per hour if they haven't passed the highly coveted bar exam?  As someone who is self-employed with her own shingle, billable time and collecting fees are an incredible burden.  I believe clients pay attorneys a high hourly rate because of the rigorousness of our training. 

The bar exam may be arbitrary, but

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Six months after law school

Image by Thomas J. Dooley available at

Six months after my last final exam and I feel as if I am on the brink of recovering from law school. Three years of law school equalled a slow decomposition of my confidence, self-esteem, physical fitness, appearance and my ability to always get sh** done.  Parenting had something to do with this too; the lack of time available to devote to the aforementioned was a contributing factor.

The hardest thing to recover from was the blow that law school gives to your confidence.  This applies to everyone.  There isn’t enough spots for even the best students to get everything they set their mind to.  There is only one top spot in the class, only one law review editor, only one or two moot court teams.  Those were not of my concern, but it helped to know that every student is on somewhat of a level playing field.  Perhaps different leagues, but the same field.  See my post "Disappointment is a part of law school."

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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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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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