I’m going to be talking about a subject that’s going to be on the thoughts of a lot of people right now and that is what do you do while you’re waiting to get your bar exam results. It’s a big topic and frankly it’s a big concern for a lot of people because it’s such a long period of time that some of you have to wait. I’m going to offer five things you can do very specific things while you wait for your bar exam results.
And for those of you who have not yet taken your bar exam you might say well this is probably not very important for me. And the truth is it’s obviously more focused on those folks who take in their exam and now are waiting. But I think it’s always useful to look ahead and see what’s going to be going on and what you might want to be doing or thinking about or preparing for when you get to that point where you’re waiting for your results. Now for those of you that are not terribly familiar with the process what happens is that after the Bar seems finished there is a fairly lengthy waiting period. But it varies from state to state. Some jurisdictions will have their results out within five weeks after the exam. Most jurisdictions typically wait eight to 10 weeks or 12 weeks and a few large jurisdictions will wait even longer than that.
And what that means is that the July bar exam results for example for California Bar takers typically don’t come out until almost thanksgiving mid to late November. Georgia bar takers are usually in that same kind of time period. And the first group of students that will get their results typically out of the July or the February exam big jurisdiction would be Florida and many of the smaller uniformed bar exam administrations. And then in the middle you got states like Texas and New York New Jersey D.C. lots of jurisdictions where lots of people are taking the exam and they’re just sitting and waiting. So for some of these jurisdictions we don’t actually have a specific release date. And you’re literally just on pins and needles waiting for the email to show up in your inbox.
So without overstating it I think for a lot of people this is a somewhat frightening time and really time when you’re thinking what should I be doing what should be going on during this time. How do you handle the stress the emotion and all of the feelings that go with this sudden buildup of energy to take the test. And then you know poof the air is all out of the balloon and you’re just in that mode of. Well what do I do now and how do I put it all together in my own brain. How do I reconnect with the world. What should I be doing. And I think for some people the reality is that their results come so quickly and they close down they do sort of a mine shut off after the exam and they don’t worry about it.
And that’s really good and hopefully they get good results and they move on and everything’s great. But you know that kind of person is typically not the the usual bar taker or most people are not in that circumstance. And so in my experience this waiting time is actually pretty painful from almost every bartaker. So if you’re watching this video today my guess is it’s probably because you’re already thinking about that process thinking about the what ifs that having those periodic flashbacks maybe to the exam itself. And I want to say that if you’re having those kinds of flashbacks I definitely don’t want you to think that I’m making fun of you because what’s happening in a very real sense is that you’re having something that we would describe clinically as a post-traumatic stress disorder. You’ve been through a high stress very difficult process and now you’ve got to work through it emotionally and mentally you have to process it.
You have to literally move on with your life. And if you don’t do that it can be debilitating and it can destroy your ability to function. But the good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way. I’ve seen many many people who literally get tied up in knots during this period of time. But I’ve also seen a awful lot of people figure it out. Work it out and there are some pretty good coping mechanisms that I think are useful. So what I want to do is share with you five specific things that you can do while you’re waiting for your bar exam results. So let’s jump into those.
The first of these five things without reference to any political organization is that you need to move on.
What do you mean by that is that you’ve got to find other interests other things to replace your bar study time while you’re waiting for your results. Now for many of you if you came from the world of law. So if you’re working in a law firm as an attorney or a paralegal or in some capacity or you were involved in some form of a legal practice it’s pretty easy to just go back to work and you’ve got plenty to do. But many of you who are waiting for better results in order to begin or advance your legal careers simply don’t have that option. And so as a result it’s really a good time I think to start looking aggressively to volunteer and to look for opportunities that you might not have had time for before.
It’s also a really good way to network. Just getting out there and getting some practical experience finding out who you can help going to your law school finding out what’s available what kind of internships and extra ships might be available. Getting yourself in some position to do some work down the road. And you know one of the things I love is that attorneys have been the first responders in major storms and natural disasters and on a number of political fronts. So getting yourself in a position to do some work down the road as a lawyer or a member of the bar. Well this is the time to get some some experience that way. And of course it’s a great time to interview if that’s going to be part of your process.
Now the reason that I suggest volunteer work right now is that because if you’re not a licensed attorney there’s obviously a limited range of what you’re going to be able to do. But the point is that you want to reconnect with the reason that you went through this entire trauma of law school and the bar exam in the first place. In other words I think you need to get back to what makes you feel valuable and useful and good when you’re doing legal work in the first place. I had a potential student contact me the other day who said I really don’t like lawyers and I really don’t want to be a lawyer. And I said Well then why are you taking the bar exam. And with that they kind of went silent and I think actually they decided not to take it.
You know if you don’t have that motivation what are you doing here. But most people do have that motivation and this waiting period is a great time to be doing some work in that regard. If you’re really stuck about what to do or where you can help out. Contact your local bar association or maybe the political or community or nonprofit groups that you align with to find out where volunteer opportunities might exist. You know people like the you know legal aid offices churches nonprofits other community groups really need lawyers and need people involved with the law as paralegals as those who can help out as clerks and interns. And so it’s a great opportunity to get involved. And of course if you’ve got a political interest and who doesn’t these days then you know the I can tell you that the camp candidates and campaigns are always looking for volunteers and helpers and that’s another terrific way to network.
There are a lot of people with legal connections involved in politics. It’s a great way to find out what’s going on in the world and in your community. And I can tell you from my experience working on campaigns at the highest level down to school board elections of really the lowest level I guess candidates are always looking for volunteers and they’re always looking for helpers. And you might choose to help out a couple of hours a week. Maybe it’s going to be more than that depending on the year and the activity. But the point is that you want to move on with your life and in order to do that you have to find some things to be doing and volunteer work is a great way to do that.
Item number two you know for those who’ve just come back from vacation they’ll recognize this one immediately. You’ve got to hug it out.
What do I mean by that. Well you know if you’ve got a family and most of you do it you and those of you that don’t have family hopefully have some friends and hopefully you’ve got some friends left. If you’ve got a job or even better you’ve got the family friends and a job all three. This is a really good time to reconnect with any and all of those people. Remember back when you were studying for the bar there were all of those missed date nights and the Hangout times and the work assignments that maybe you didn’t get to because you just had to study.
Well you might have forgotten a lot about that. But believe me the people around you they remember all those missed moments and this waiting period is a great time to make up for some of that by being extra attentive. And what I’m saying here is that I think you want to spend some additional time with friends and family coworkers. I schedule a lot of coffees at this time of the year just to catch up with old friends and kind of see what’s going on. I like to take vacation time because I’m so close to Disney World that’s easy to do. And I actually get the benefit of seeing students and other people I know who are coming to Disney World so it’s a great time to do these sorts of things. But you don’t have to go to Disney.
It’s just the point of reconnecting. You know I would say that even for me as a teacher I need that time back into the mainstream into the real world. And I would encourage you to do that as well. Now I recognize the reality is that you’re probably pretty tired from studying for the bar exam and taking the test. But to the rest of the world here’s what happens. You went to the bar exam you took the bar exam the bar exam is over. That’s enough. Get back to me. Get back to the world. And so you might be struggling a bit with how to make that transition. Everybody else is way past that they have no more forgiveness. And so what I’ve said to my students is that your presence here on planet Earth is now required. There are no more excuses.
You have to be present. You have to engage by results will come soon enough but you’ve got to get back into the world. Reengaging with family and friends and work that triple play if you will is really critical. You know if you’ve been at work and trying to balance your work and bar study this is particularly true for attorneys in practice who are moving jurisdictions where you’ve got to go back and take care of those clients you need to make sure that they know you’re still there and what’s going on in your boss your supervisor needs to know that you’re still in the game and your family and your friends need to know that too. So that having been said there’s obviously a lot going on in the world. This is a great time to reconnect and see what’s going on out there.
But just remember that to everyone else the bar exam was a finite one and done kind of event. It does not have a lingering implication to them right now. And so when you start saying to everyone around you well you know I’m just waiting for results. The truth is they really don’t want to hear about it. It’s over. You need to engage and you can’t use studying for the bar as a reason to stay away from all of those obligations and connections now. So if you know that there’s a list of items around your house that had to be done this is the time you probably want to do them and you just need to buckle down and do it. So that’s number two on our list of the five things while you’re waiting for your results.
Number three is you’ve got to talk it out.
Remember we said you’ve got to move on you’ve got to hug it out but now you’ve got to talk it out. Many bar takers not all but many have to get the test out of their systems. But as I just said in item number one about moving on in an item to hugging it out to the rest of the world. It’s totally over for you. Remember the people around you as I said don’t care about you or the bar exam in that context anymore and they don’t want to hear about the bar any more. Oh that’s harsh Jackson. I mean really. But that’s true. They really don’t want to hear about the most important test in your life right now. They don’t care.
And it’s not because they don’t care about you it’s because you’ve been studying for the test for two months or three months or six months or a year or two years or whatever and the people around you are just over it they’re over it but you still have the need to talk about it. And we recognize that you absolutely have that need. And in that situation there are a couple of things that I think you can do. One is you can certainly journal it you can write it out you can type it out. You can use your electronic device you could actually use a recording device and recorded and then transcribe it. You can do a lot of things but you can certainly talk it out. You could even talk to small animals. You know dogs and cats they’ll listen attentively.
Maybe not so much the cats but the dogs are pretty good. And you can tell them about what’s going on and how they know and understand your life and what’s happened. But the end of the day I recognize that most of you will not be satisfied with a conversation with a cat and you’re probably going to talk to a real human being. And so what I would suggest is that you go into a room with some human in your life and you say look I just have to talk this out one single time. I’ve got to go through it. I got to tell you all of the miserable details I’ve got to share with you all of the craziness and my concerns and my fears and all of those things. But here’s the key. You tell that person in exchange for that for that opportunity.
I promise you it’s one and done. I’m just going to do it again over with. And I’m going to get it out of my system. We’re going to have this conversation. I’ll talk to you I’ll tell you everything that’s gone on. I’m going to spill my guts and then I promise I’m finished there’ll be no more I’m not going to let it dribble out over time and little pieces if literally one end. And if this kind person is a spouse a partner a close family member maybe you could bribe them with a lunch or dinner or something. Maybe you could go to a baseball game. It’s that time of the year and while you’re watching the game I’ll regale you with all the Bar Exam stories because really what could be better than watching baseball and talking about the bar exam.
And as you begin to do all of those things I think what you will begin to discover is that you actually purge yourself. You get it out of your system. You force yourself to be done with it. And because the deal that you made was I’m going to talk it out and then I’m really over it. You need to stick to that deal. I mean really and truly if someone is brave enough to listen to you talk about the bar exam from their perspective ad nauseam you need to be willing to hold up your end of the deal and say OK once I’ve talked this through with you I’m really done with it until results come out. No worry we’ll just get to that point. So I hope that that would be useful for those of you that are in a course where you really feel like you just got to have some opportunity to let it out.
Now if you’re in our course at Celebration Bar Review you have an additional forum where you actually can talk to real human beings which is our private Facebook group and that’s a place where you can come talk about the exam or vent or ask questions and it’s a great resource to be able to talk about your experiences. In fact we do weekly group coaching calls where you can come on and talk with other bar takers. And it’s moderated by a staff member and you can vent about everything that happened in the exam and I know that many of our students have made those connections and they tell me that these coaching calls are a great source to just say here’s what I saw.
Here’s what I heard. Here’s what I think about or feel about the test and to do that in a supportive environment and I encourage you to do that. So if you’re in our course please make sure that you participate in those group coaching calls I think they’re great. Even after the bar exam. Now if you’re not in our course perhaps you’re in a course that gives you something similar and that’s great but if you’re in one that doesn’t allow you to do that. I think there are still other places where you can go online and you can post your thoughts you can write about them. You can communicate in the digital world but in some event and in some way I think you’ve got to talk it out. And I do think the reason I mentioned it to you the need to talk it out is that if you don’t get it out it’s going to turn into a volcano.
What I mean by that is that the pressure will just keep building and building and it’s going to erupt and that’s what we don’t want to happen. So in some way find a journal write about it talk to your dog talk to a family member make a deal that you’ll go on Facebook in a group post somewhere you’ll go crazy with your Twitter account. You’ll snapchat to your heart’s content but do something and get it out. So that’s number three. Talk it out.
Number four in our list of five things when we’re thinking about what you need to be doing about while you’re waiting for results is to assume the best. Folks I don’t know how to say this with any more emphasis or believe for concern bar takers and lawyers generally are terrific at what we call the parade of horribles.
You know what that is. It’s all the bad things that could happen or what happened or should happen. There’s the parade and I’m going to run to the front of the parade to lead it. Now you know it is entirely possible that you fail the bar exam. We know that but it’s also entirely possible that you pass the bar exam. We know that too. And here’s the difficulty. There is no way for most of you and I would say after 25 years of doing this so more than 50 administrations of the bar exam I would say my experience has probably been fewer than 3 percent of the people I’ve talked to who actually definitively for a fact know that they passed their bar exam after they’ve taken it.
And before the results come out they just don’t know. Most people don’t know. Very few people are absolutely certain. Now there are some people that are absolutely certain they failed it then they usually have a reason like my computer stopped working and I didn’t write something or I got sick or I didn’t finish all of the questions and there could be some reasons why you would absolutely know that you failed. But again those people are at the margins and the vast majority of people I would say well over 90 some of the bar takers are in this middle ground where it’s not clear if you pass or fail you may have an inclination but you really don’t know. And a lot of people will say well I don’t want to jinx myself by saying I pastor I don’t want to make it such that you know I act like I passed and then I fail and then I’m kind of feeling miserable and I’m embarrassed.
And the point is that if you have these feelings you’re pretty normal. And the people that don’t want to talk about them I certainly understand now when people tell me how they did after the test. I would say most partakers have a sort of general direction that they’re headed in They’ll say in essence I feel pretty good about the test or I don’t feel very good about the test. And while that’s helpful to know by and large most people really don’t know how they did and they don’t know what the results are going to be when they come out. So my fourth tip is that you need to assume the best.
And because this test has such a narrow range of acceptability of passing and it’s such a fine line distinction of whether you made it or not. You know I’ve said in other places you’re only one answer away from passing. And that’s really true. One or two questions might make the difference and you simply won’t know that in advance. So I think for your own mental health and sanity and the sanity of everyone around you you should assume that you passed. Now that’s my view. You should assume that you pass and not be afraid. And if you’re in our course I think you should assume you pass based on our statistical results even if you took one of those horrible big box reviews and you did all that crazy IRAC memorization rule issue spotter stuff. You still should assume that you pass.
Now the statistics aren’t so good for them but you really should assume that it works out. And here’s the interesting part. A lot of people that went to these big box reviews come to me during this period of time and they say something to the effect of well I did everything that my big box bar of you told me to do. I memorized I made flashcards I created outlines I did this and this and this. I took their test. I got back my anonymous graded essays but I’m pretty sure I failed. So I’d like to start studying now. And that really raises an interesting question and I want to address it. I generally say to people that if they think that they’re in that situation they probably shouldn’t do that they shouldn’t start studying before they get their results unless they are fairly definitively certain that something went wrong during the test.
If there was a technology failure or you didn’t write one of the essays or you didn’t complete a performance test or you only finished say 75 out of 100 questions in one of the two sessions if something of that nature happened and then I think you could say it’s very likely that you fail then I think OK it’s great start studying now but for most people studying right now before you get your results is not a good idea. And the reason is that it simply extends your study period without any break. And for a lot of people that’s a really bad plan. I think you need the mental and physical break you need the distance and the time to be able to say this is what I was doing and now I’m back at it.
You need to take that refreshment break. Now let’s look at this a little bit more. And I would encourage people to start fresh if it’s necessary. Now I certainly recognize that for those of you in the late reporting results states like California and Georgia it puts you under a lot of pressure and it’s very hard when you’ve got to then turn around and take the exam with seven or eight weeks to go. But here’s the good news. You’ve already studied for the test even if you took that crappy big box review. So the next time around it should be a review of the review. And I don’t know that it’s as critical for you as it might be for somebody that’s just coming out of law school or someone who’s about to take the bar after 10 15 20 years away from the test.
So in a sense I don’t think your it as as much of a disadvantage as you might think. No truthfully it’s better if you’re taking the Florida bar for example and you get your results six weeks after the exam that’s giving you an extra four to six weeks of study over someone let’s say from California. But here’s the reality. You’re in the same boat with all the other Florida Bar takers. If you’re taking a Florida bar or all the other California repeaters if you’re in that situation. So my general suggestion is don’t start your restudy now don’t pull out your old materials. Don’t pull out your all out lines. Don’t listen to lectures don’t do flashcards. Somebody said to me after the bar exam I’m going to do 50 multi-state questions a night from now until the results come out.
And I said Why. To what purpose. You don’t know if you pass or fail you don’t know what that study is going to be doing and what that means is at best it’s unfocused or at worst it’s just miserably useless. And I don’t think there’s any reason to put yourself through that. So why not take the time and do the other stuff she talked about instead talked to other people reconnect. Volunteer have a life and then if the results turn out to be not good all right you deal with it and we’ve got a video where I talk about five things to do if you fail the bar exam. But you see I think what happens is that we get into this mindset of assuming the worst because we’re lawyers and therefore we just basically assume that we’ve all failed.
And then because we assume we fail we just think we have to start studying right away. I have and I mean this quite honestly and sincerely I have never seen anyone during my time as a teacher studying during this interim waiting period where I honestly believed it made a bit of difference for them ultimately in their results. Never not once. I know some of those people passed but a lot of them didn’t. And I actually believe if you just took the time off if you put your hands and you took them off the keyboard and you went and did something else for four five or six or seven weeks you’d be much better off when your studies resume than if you simply studied all the way through and didn’t take any break at all. But I realize that’s a counter-intuitive position and I know that there are a lot of people out there that say oh I’ve got to start right away.
If I took the bar just start studying right away for the next one. And most of those people are really going to be just crazed when they get to that next bar exam. So my view is that you can do a lot better things with these few weeks than to be studying for the test.
Well that takes us to item number five on our list of five things you should be doing while you wait for your results. It’s actually kind of linked to this one up to the point where I said you need to know and move on with your life and hug it out with your family and friends and work. You need to talk it out with other people.
I said in number four you should assume the best. But my fifth step is that you should do your research. Now look if it turns out that you did fail the exam those moments and hours after you get your results are really tough emotionally. And that’s putting it mildly. It is not the best time for most people to consider what their next steps should be. So if you’re one of those kinds of people you know where it’s a good day. You know and you pass great. But if it’s not and you’re one of those I don’t think this is going to be a good day kind of people then you know and someone who sees the gloom in everything then here’s the way to respond. Use this time to do your research if everything I’ve told you still doesn’t convince you that you’ve got a chance of passing that use this time to think about what you want to do if you fail. Now if you don’t fail do you want to sit. You know do you want to sit for another bar exam. Do you want to try and take your UBE score and apply it somewhere else. Do you want to change jurisdictions. And if you do fail what next do you want to take the next administration of the exam. Do you want to look at different jurisdictions and you know years ago we wouldn’t say much about changing jurisdictions but I’ll say that what’s happened now with the Uniform Bar Exam is that we’ve got a shifting landscape.
So we have tests that have changed their form going from a state exam to the UBE and being transferable and the scores in those scores are different even though the test is the same. So maybe what you want to do if you took the New York UBE is think to yourself If I don’t pass maybe what I want to do is take the UBE again but focus on a jurisdiction with a lower score like Missouri or New Mexico or someplace that would give me a chance to get barred even if I didn’t make the New York threshold. The point I’m trying to make is that it’s OK to think about those things and to evaluate them.
California just went through a big change in the format of the exam so there were a number of people that started thinking you know maybe what I want to do is put my attention on California when it goes to a two day test and the same is true if they change their pass score. So the point is that there are things that are happening in the bar exam world that might make you say I want to think about which exam I would take if I had to retake or where I want to take it or when I want to take it. And this would be particularly significant for retailers if you get your results late in the game and you’re thinking to yourself do I really want to sit for the February bar exam or do I want to wait and start my studies for the July bar exam.
And so maybe that’s a better idea in certain circumstances. But the time to think about all of those things is now. It is not the day the results come out. And the point that I really want to make is that it’s a good idea to prepare in advance particularly if you’re someone that’s been taking a big box for review. There might be a little small voice in your head that sounds remarkably a bit like mine saying hello. The Emperor Has No Clothes. That course doesn’t work. Well those big box bar reviews have a 30 to 35 percent pass rate nationally based on what they’re doing. Maybe you should think about doing something differently. And that’s been part of your thought process than the time to think about it to evaluate and do your due diligence is now one of the ways you can do that would be to join me in our free live webinars called How to make the next bar exam your last bar exam and we’ll put a link to it on this page as well.
We do those every week so that you have the opportunity to evaluate and see what else is out there and what would be different for you and how successful students have prepared for their bar exam. This is a great opportunity to do that. If you want to dip your toe in that water while you’re waiting for results. So my point is that in any event I think it’s time for you to start doing your research about what’s going on. What the tests are what the jurisdictions are what the bar reviews are what do you want in your life.
Do you want a mentored course if you are in our course and you didn’t use personal or premium entry maybe you want to do that maybe you know that you want to take advantage of tools like photo reading or paraliminals or some of the other resources we offer in our course. The point is that if you feel like you need to do something think about what you could do differently if you did not succeed in all of those I think are really good questions to ask but they’re not particularly easy questions to answer. In the heat of the emotion of results coming out and so I encourage you to take the time now to talk to the people that you want to talk to. Make the decisions that you think you might have to make later. Be prepared if the news comes out for you and you pass.
That’s great news you can throw all that research away or you can put it online or you can tell people hey you should take Jackson’s course that’s pretty good. But if not if you didn’t do well if you didn’t pass then you’ve got a plan that’s been prepared in advance. And there’s a limited amount of disruption in your life you just transition right into the work that you need to know and that you have to do. So I think that one of the things that’s really important is that you owe it to yourself to find out what your options are particularly when it comes to a bar of your course. Find out why our students for example are so passionate about what we do and why we get the results that we get.
And I would encourage you to do that if you’re in a big box bar review. Think about it. What are people saying about that course. Do they love it. Do they like it. Did it work for them. Check it out. Think about it. Now why you’re still more rational than in that moment when maybe you don’t feel quite so rational. You know I’ll say that. That’s one of the keys in my mind is to be thinking about these things planning and preparing.
Well I wanted to give you these five tips about what you can be doing while you’re waiting. And I would suggest in recapping that what you want to do is go ahead and move on with your life while you’re waiting. Get involved in volunteer activities or work or internships or just getting back to work.
Secondly reconnect with the world with your family your friends and your job. Third talk to somebody. Talk to your Facebook group. Talk to your journal. Talk to your cat. Write it down. Do something. Talk to a family member. If you can negotiate that. But get it out of your system. Forth I want you to assume the best and not try to start your restudy immediately after the bar exam is over and before results come out. And finally number five do your research now in case you don’t have good results. Know what your plans are going to be. What exam do you want to take. What jurisdiction do you want to take. When do you want to study. How many hours are you going to use what level of service what bar of you of course what approach are you going to take.
Have ideas about all of those things in advance of the results. And having said all of this I want to just summarize and end by saying that I hope all of you who are watching have great results. I’m looking forward to that particularly if you’re in our course and I think that based on feedback from our students we’re going to continue to see good results from the people that were in celebration borrowed you courses around the country. We expect that even though the exams were quite difficult and the pass rates overall are continuing decline around the country. If you took the exam and you don’t feel good about what happened I just want you to know that part of that is literally the trauma of taking the test and much of that feeling will begin to recede from your brain.
It’ll begin to move away as time goes on and you’ll begin to reconnect into the world. That’s a good thing and something that we really hope that you’ll do. Now I appreciate all of you who are checking this out and finding and asking questions and I invite you to find out more about us and about our approach and what we can do to help you. But for all of you I really hope that the results when they come out are favorable and that we see your name on the pass list in the very near future.