Getting ready for the bar exam? Then you’ve already heard plenty of horror stories about the road ahead. Unfortunately, many of these tales are true. Preparing for the bar exam is a sort of alternate reality – an ultra-intensive period when normal life takes a backseat to your professional credentials. Rest assured, however, that this, too, shall pass.
Meanwhile, have you given much thought to what comes after you complete the bar exam? In case you have not, we offer six tips for your consideration:
1. Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty!
Start making your post exam plan now. Don’t wait for that exhausted, brain dead evening when the ink is drying on your bar exam. Yes, you already have too much to do; but getting started today on your post-exam plan is an investment you won’t regret.
2. Get Acquainted With Recruiters
If your legal employment strategy has not yet included recruiter contact, why not make that a priority? Reach out now to start those conversations — even if you cannot devote any concentrated time with recruiters until your exam is complete. (While you’re boning up on “Constitutional Law,” your recruiters can be watching for your next employment opportunity. Plant those seeds!)
3. Rehabilitate Your Social Life
All people in your life — family, friends, work associates – who formerly had access to you on a regular basis, have grown accustomed to your absence. They, too, have adjusted to a “New World Order” where you simply were not part of the picture. Some, of course, will be prepared to immediately pick up where your relationship left off with them. Others, on the other hand, will have other people and activities that now fill in time spaces formerly occupied by you. When re-engaging with those who matter most, pay attention to the signals they send. Don’t assume – or act as if you assume – that they have just been “on hold” while you were busy with this exam. Give them an opportunity to indicate – explicitly or otherwise – how best to get things back on track between the two of you. This is a key point: one size does not fit all.
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4. Look To Your “Bucket List”
If you do not already have a “bucket list”, this would be a good time to attend to that. It’s easy: Just begin jotting down a list of all the things you hope to accomplish or experience in your lifetime. (Earning a law degree, for example, might well have been on that list.) With “bucket list” in hand, why not prioritize the top enjoyable bucket items – and choose one for your post exam treat?
Your list may include ambitious – and expensive – items such as world travel, as well as simpler pleasures — such as reading a classic book that has been on your list for years. In any case make a choice and then make a contract with yourself to check it off when your bar exam is done. Believe this: The mere fact of having set this incentive will provide a little boost on those many late library nights before the exam.
5. Get Some “Headspace”
If there is no compelling activity, experience, or goal that currently calls out to you, that in itself may indicate your need for “headspace”. One remedy: Make an appointment to begin a meditation class for the day after you put your exam pencil down. Many low-cost (or no-cost) meditation methods and classes are available, although there can be a danger in not being “invested” in the practice. “Lifestyle hacker” Tim Ferris reports that paying for the Transcendental Meditation (TM) course is what helped him stick with meditation long enough to get hooked on the practice. (In prior attempts, Ferris had found it too easy to quit during the instruction period.) And if you do stick with meditation, your imagination just may conjure up those “bucket list” items that are eluding you now.
Travel is another time-tested way clear one’s head and make room for big ideas. Let’s face it; in the aftermath of the bar exam, you may not be suitable companion for “normal” people. You can put yourself in a self-imposed “quarantine”, instead, by taking a trip. The immersion in foreign sights, sounds, smells, and people can help re-set your mental hard drive. Start fare-shopping now, and find yourself a good deal.
Don’t Let This Moment Slip Away…
Undoubtedly, you have met lawyers with stories like this: “I drove directly from the bar exam to the law firm — where I immediately started billing time.” Although this may be the choice you embrace, don’t do so without considering the alternatives. This post-bar time is simply too important. All too often, one hears these “workhorse” stories rendered in a wistful, self-pitying way – as if that eager beaver now understands the cost of an opportunity lost. Remember, you are in it for the long run – and this post-exam period is an opportunity to pause, reflect, and gain clarity about what’s ahead. Good luck!
To get a jump on on #2, get in touch with Special Counsel.
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