Friday, July 27, 2007

post mortem

A few random thoughts about my experience taking the Florida bar exam, in no particular order of importance or relevance (some written after day one, updated yesterday and today). Hopefully this will be the last, or one of the last, posts about the bar exam because I need to put this thing out of my mind.

1. My 'neighbor' at my table must have erased approximately 90 of the 100 multiple choice questions on Tuesday. The table was shaking nonstop. Why would anyone continuously erase the answer to every question? Don't most people make marks on the exam book, and not the answer sheet before filling in the bubble on the answer sheet? (I don't mean that people shouldn't erase - everyone erases but she literally erased almost every question). Also, she made sure I knew she was a bitch the moment I got to the table on Tuesday morning when I accidentally stepped on her laptop cord as I was trying to get to my seat and she said, 'hey, can you watch out?' I was seriously tempted to offer a smartass remark and ask her if she honestly was so stupid that she thought someone stepping on an electrical cord could possibly cause any harm to the cord, but I resisted. It's an electrical cord. It's designed to be stepped on, unless, maybe someone is wearing pointy high heels or something. But inside, I knew. Guess what? I had my suspicion confirmed when she didn't come back on Wednesday. That means she was taking Florida for a second time because she failed.

2. A lot of people said the big room - 5,000 people in one room - was intimidating and scary. I didn't think it was at all. In fact, I'd much rather be in that kind of room than crammed into one of those stuffy, narrow classrooms at school where every chair creaks and people are right behind you and next to you on every side. Also I think the massive room caused sound to disperse or something because you'd think with 5,000 people in one place there would be non-stop coughing and sniffling and whatnot, but there wasn't. Or it's possible that I was just focused and didn't hear that noise.

3. On Monday afternoon a homeless person wished me good luck on the exam. On Tuesday afternoon (after taking FL) the hotel housekeeper who came into my room to make it up saw me studying and said, 'boy, why you still studyin'? haven't you heard 'study long, study wrong?'" Two other hotel personnel wished me good luck and said I'd do fine - the room service guy and the guy who came to fix my air conditioner

4. The confusion after taking the laptop portion of the exam on Tuesday morning was bizarre and troubling. The old guy collecting disks had no idea if he was supposed to collect exam booklets and those oaths, too. You'd think they would train those people.

5. While no one got to take an actual bag/purse/laptop case in the exam I saw a few people who were allowed to bring in a little pouch with stuff like pens, pencils, erasers, earplugs, etc. Also you'd think they would have some uniformity in terms of what's allowed in. I have heard other states require everyone to have a uniform size plastic ziploc bag and specifically identify what is and isn't allowed. Here, Florida specifically says what is and isn't allowed but I saw people with gum and candy on their desk and that was clearly banned. Not that I'm complaining. I'm just saying -- you'd think they would provide clearer guidelines.

6. Our lunch (sandwiches and salad) was nicer than the one provided for Florida State. I didn't see what the other in-state schools served but FSU had only boxed lunches. Too bad. I guess that's the benefit of going to a private (much lower ranked) school. Despite my post earlier in the week about the lunch I am grateful that our school provided lunch. (and yeah, there was turkey but on both days when I got to the lunch meat the roast beef and ham was almost gone while the turkey was still all there).

7. Speaking of lunch, apparently the Hyatt offered a boxed lunch for you to pick up in between sessions but it was something like $20. Wow. Not that I can really talk when it comes to spending money for this whole thing considering how much I spent on the hotel room, room service two nights, Internet, etc. Again, I'm not complaining - every penny is worth it (especially if I pass, which I will), but this is an extraordinarily expensive endeavor. Of course this all comes on top of the $120,000 we spent on law school and additional $5,000 or so for bar review classes.

8. Flying home was a great idea. It actually sounded kind of fun when people were talking about going out (in Tampa) on Wednesday night and I'm sure it had the potential to be fun but I'm glad I went straight home. I had a few drinks on the way home, naturally. In the airport, actually.

9. I have to find a way to put this entire thing out of my head. There is nothing I can do until results come out. Obviously. I have to convince myself that I passed and move on with my life. I'm sure it will be easier in a few days not to think about it.

10. Is it a major accomplishment to have done what we just did? I think it only is an accomplishment if we passed. Otherwise, not so much.

11. I don't know what was worse - the 2.5 months of studying or the actual two days of the exam. After day one, I thought the former was worse. After day two, I'm not entirely sure. I just don't know. Wow. I'm still kind of in a daze.

12. I think it was kind of nice of Dean V. to be up there and wish everyone good look, circulate around the convention center while everyone was in line, etc. Somehow it seemed a little nice to know that the administration (even if he was the only one) actually cared about what we were going through. (I saw Prof. Evidence at the gym on Thursday and he did that thing he always does when he sees me, that 'hey' mutter, which is fine, but don't you think professors should be aware of and acknowledge the date of the exam? It's not a big thing at all but you know, a little 'hey, aren't you glad it's over' or even 'how'd it go?' (although I hate answering that question) kind of acknowledgment would've been nice.)

13. I'm glad this is over.

14. If I fail, I might not post anything about it. I might shut down this blog for good one day out of the blue (actually Sept. 17).

15. When I came home from the MPRE last August, I was sure that I had failed. Positive. Within a few hours of coming home I sat down in front of my computer and deleted all references that I'd made to having taken the MPRE because I didn't want anyone to know what I had taken it when they saw me re-taking it in the fall. Well, I didn't fail; it wasn't even close (to failing). So I'm hoping this is the same thing, although I won't go and delete all the references to the bar exam.

16. I'm still amazed at how much weight Lawfool lost. It was amazing.

17. One of the things I missed while studying for the bar exam was TV. I don't mean that I missed it, as in, I wished I had seen it. But I mean I missed 99 percent of new TV. I missed a ton of news as it was happening, but by and large I knew what was going on. One thing I allowed myself to keep up with was baseball because I couldn't survive without watching baseball and keeping up on baseball news. But I can't even begin to imagine what it was like to study for the bar exam before the Internet. How, other than reading the newspaper, could you possibly know what was going on in the world?

18. I saw only a few people wearing their Harvard or Yale shirts. I figured there would be more because I heard that people would try that stupid intimidation game. But they didn't. I was a little surprised.

19. I was trying to think of all the things I'm looking forward to doing now that it's over. And for some reason, I can't. I just want my life back in all ways. Other than spending more time with my wife and having more time during which I don't have any obligations, I don't really know what else I want to be doing now that I have all this free time. That's not to say that I don't have any ambitions or goals but I've been so focused on the bar exam that I seem to have temporarily lost sight of things I enjoy doing or want to spend time doing. Eh. It'll come back to me.

20. Is Bar Bri going to send us instructions about sending back the books? Damn, that's probably expensive. I guess it's worth it to get that deposit back. On the other hand, how much could you sell all those books for on amazon? A guy who saw me throw out my (typed) notes said I should save them and sell them on ebay because that's what his friend did last year. Whatever. Maybe I'll check out e-bay. Presumably a hefty chunk of change, considering that the buyer would be saving thousands of dollars.

21. If you've read this far, don't leave yet. I mean don't stop reading this blog. My blogging career isn't entirely over even though the purpose for which I started this blog is over (law school, bar exam). I promise not to turn this into a blog about me, me and my life. I'm not sure what I'll do with it. Anyway, I'll have a post up in a few days in which I think about the future of this blog.

22. I'm really glad this is over. I want my life back. And I'm going to get it back.

23. Have I mentioned how glad I am that this is over?

24. A commenter wrote the other day that California's bar exam results come back in mid-November. I think she was actually serious when she said that if you fail, you have to start studying pretty much right away - give or take a couple of weeks. That sucks. At least if you fail FL you have two months during which you don't have to study. Not that I'm planning to have failed, but that's out of my hands now.

25. Did you, like me, wonder what happens to all the answer sheets after we turned them in? Do they go in someone's trunk who drives them to Tallahassee? Do they travel in an armored car? Are they guarded and secure or do they just get shoved into briefcases and tossed into back seats of people's cars? Who knows? As long as they get to the right place, wherever they're graded, it's fine. Whatever.

26. Do you wish, now that this is over, that FL had the rules of some other states that don't grade your essays if you passed the multi-state? I really don't know if I'd prefer that method or not. I guess it's easy to say that I would've liked that approach but who knows. It is what it is. (Isn't that a stupid cliche?). Actually I don't think I'd like that because in hindsight after the entire thing is over I am fairly confident that I did the best of all on the essays (not that I did well, but ya know what I mean - I mean if you divided the thing into four parts (or just three parts), I'm sure my highest score was on the essay part.

27. I think I would give anyone the advice who is studying for the bar exam to spend a few weeks doing and learning the essays that are all the same, then focus on the ones that are different. In other words, once you have down the obvious essays like negligence and family's four basic issues and K formation, spend your time on the essays that differ, like the few torts essays that aren't negligence, the few family ones that don't talk about the four basic issues.

28. I have to stop thinking about this. I will. I will. Really.

29. I never, ever want to do this again. Ever. Seriously.


At 9:23 AM, Blogger Liney said...

Wow that was a long post. I bet we totally walked by each other. I recognized a kid I worked with down in Ft. Lauderdale the summer after my 1L year. I couldn't remember his name for the life of me, and he was in a group of kids so I didn't bug him. A lot of faces from the past.

The seat partner thing is so funny - you really get the luck of the draw on that one. Did you notice termites in the tables?

And don't knock on FSU's lunch - I thought it was great! Haha. I was surprised there was a turkey sandwich option, but I scooped up a ham. The cookies were amazing.

Going out in Tampa was alright... I'd never been before and we kept it low key. While out, I actually ran into a guy that I met a year and a half ago in Boston. He works at Carlton Fields and was there with recruiters. He recognized me from our 3 minute conversation all that time ago - and called me by my first name!! I spent the rest of the evening in shock. Seriously small world.

Having TV back is amazing, but I do have to thank for the quick baseball updates. Studying for the exam was made that much easier knowing that Boston was leading the league.

Oh and about the t-shirts... Did you see the HARVARD SUCKS t-shirt? That was my buddy on day two. Awesome!

At 1:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was nice to have Dean V there. UF was next to us and they had some lady who barely knew any of their students. They had to pay for their lunches so whenever someone would come up she'd give that fake 'hi' and then ask "what's your last name again?" so she could check if they'd already paid.

And regarding all the people wishing us luck, do you think that was just because so many of us were staying in those hotels or do you think it was some actual southern hospitality that obviously does not exist in Miami?

At 1:08 PM, Blogger some guy said...

That's funny, I noticed the FSU woman, too.

Interesting question about the people wishing us luck. Probably a combination of nicer people (Miamians are the rudest people on earth) and being so close to the convention center I'm sure hotel staff talk to all their guests about the shriners or national association of undertakers or whatever group is in town at the convention center.

At 1:17 PM, Blogger triallawyer said...

i have to object the miamians rudest on earth...

you obviously havent spent that much time in the tri-state area(NY/NJ/CT)...

as far as getting it outta my head, when i flew home my flight was delayed from 235 to 655, i could have driven home in the time i sat waiting in the airport. a perfect ending to the raping that was the MBE...

At 2:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't mean to sound like a dick, but the woman probably wasn't worried about her cord being damaged, she was probably worried about it being accidentally unplugged. Person next to me had his cord knocked loose and his computer shut off in the middle of the exam. And do you only have to retake the state part of the exam in Florida if you fail? Do they let you take the test with crayons too?

At 3:02 PM, Blogger some guy said...

But there was plenty of slack. It was plugged in to the adaptor on the floor.

Anyway, as I understand it, if you pass the MBE and fail FL or vice versa (meaning if you got below a scaled score of 136 on either) you only have to re-take the one you failed. People from other jurisdictions have to re-take both, even if they passed the MBE.

At 5:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re: #9. Go on vacation-- it helps! It was also a nice distraction planning the vacation during the study period last year.

Re: #20. SELL THEM ON E-BAY! Bar-Bri's only gonna give you what, $125? I think I got close to $400 for mine on e-bay. Of course, I used the bari-bri software to do questions instead of the big books, so mine were mostly unmarked.


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