Thanks! The bar exam is "wretched"?
What state bar did you right? Elaborate a little on how "wretched" it is. Any tips, suggestions, what to do, what not to waste my time doing, etc.?
I'm from Florida, but I drifted around for a while after high school and ended up in West Virginia. I consider myself a West Virginian now, haven't crossed the Florida state line in 9 years, I think.
West Virginia supposedly has one of the easier bar exams in the US. It's only two days and has a relatively high pass rate. In retrospect, I over-studied by a mile. However, I didn't know that going in, and I didn't want to flunk, as I couldn't afford (financially or mentally) to take it twice.
Where are you currently practising?
I practice in Charleston, WV, which is the biggest city in WV but is still pretty small.
I clerked in a very rural circuit - no stoplights, no parking meters in the entire county - and planned to open my own office there. You wouldn't have known to look at it, but there was an insane amount of money to be made there. However, my wife was going nuts from the isolation, so I took a job with a civil defense firm in Charleston. My workload has more than doubled, but the money is good and my wife can also find a good job here. I like to think I can be happy nearly anywhere, so I've accepted the necessity of moving.
I detest our unrelentingly myopic and parochial ethic of consumption - one to which most lucrative professions coontribute - and will never ever be somebody who doesnt give a f*** about animals or the environments like all the lawyers and law profs (except 3 ) that I have met.
I'm certainly not a hyper-consumer - I'm a staunch advocate of frugality and voluntary simplicity on my own part. However, I'm also a staunch advocate of individual liberty and free-markets. That said, there is nothing I avoid with more fervor than political discussion.
I also like to think I'm making the world marginally better by my being here.
Any tips re bar exam survival would be greatly appreciated.
Off the top of my head ...
* I didn't take a bar review course - didn't have money or time, as I was working - so my experience may not be typical. Down here, at least, nearly everyone seems to take expensive bar review courses over the summer.
* I got the most mileage out of a) making my own flash-cards to study and b) devising obscene mnemonics.
When I sat down to take the essay portion of the exam, we had a large sheet of scrap paper, and I spent 15-20 minutes writing down all of my horrid mnemonic sentences. They collected the paper after the exam, and they probably think I'm history's greatest pervert/monster based on what I wrote on that paper.
As for the flashcards, I went through (I think) three iterations of the flashcards, and just transcribing them helped me learn a lot. I'd go through the flashcards repeatedly, over and over, *all the time*, and when I got where I knew a flashcard cold, I'd retire it for a while. Gradually, the piles of cards got thinner, and then I knew everything. (Don't worry, I forgot it within a week of the exam and am now having to re-learn it every day on the job.)
* You absolutely must retain some balance in your non-studying-life. I didn't. I was an utter wreck, physically and emotionally, I made my wife miserable I'm sure, and I lived on dry ramen and Diet Faygo Redpop. I couldn't afford to fail, and I really burned myself out.
* It did help me, I think, to take a couple days off right before the exam. My head-traffic had an unacceptable signal-to-noise ratio, and two days was about right to clear it up.
* Once you pass, and you will, remember that nearly everyone, no matter how well-intentioned, is full of crap. They'll tell you all sorts of horror stories, or that you can't practice law a certain way, and they're wrong. As I'm sure you've noticed, lawyers can be overly self-assured and a bit arrogant, even when they mean well. There are many, many ways to practice law, and few lawyers wind up in homeless shelters. There isn't any one best path, and there are pros and cons to any mode of practice.
My personal preference has always been for solo work, but I've ended up doing something completely different, and it's all right too.
By the way, I'm not sure how it is in your part of Canada, but despite the fact that most of my peers down here have radically different worldviews than I do, I've found *at least* 75% of the lawyers with whom I've dealt to be extremely forthcoming and cordial, and at heart to be good people, even if we aren't on the same page. I work for a very conservative firm - one of the charter partners is a former Republican appointee to our state Supreme Court - and everyone treats me (and the staff) as well as I've ever seen anyone treated in any workplace.
It may be different here, as we're a pretty rural state with a relatively small bar and only one law school, so the legal communities tend to be tighter-knit than in more metropolitan locales.
Anyway, as is becoming rapidly obvious, I can bloviate about the profession until your ears bleed. If you have any questions at all, ever, please feel free to let me know. Most lawyers, including me, are only too happy to assist other members of the fraternity. People helped me on my way up, and I love helping other people on their way up.