Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Last Bar Exam Thought Ever (Knock on Wood)

Done. Not much else to say. Pretty sure I passed, but it will take another few months to know for sure, and by then I will be working and in DC. So it would really suck to fail.

Pray for me.

Oddly enough, I got a summons for jury duty today. Weird.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Bar Exam Thought of the Day

Finished day one. Lots to talk about, but I am as brain dead as you are. Therefore, I called in some favors, and Dr. Horrible's Sing-A-Long Blog is available for free for another day.

Screw the cram session, relax, and watch an awesome musical.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Bar Exam Thoughts of the Day

I have no interesting thoughts today. They are all law related.

But the next person that says "Good Luck" to me is going to get punched. I did not just spend the last two months [sometimes] busting my ass so that Luck would factor into it.

But it does.

[I just had a thought. With this whole pen and pencil thing, I am afraid the Bar Exam is going to end up like that test Will Smith took in Men in Black.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Bar Exam Thought of the Day

It's only the rest of my life.

I always knew I was destined for Broadway. Failing may just be the push I need.

of course, I cannot sing, dance, act, direct, work lighting rigs, see color, act all gay, wear tight pants, jump, build things, do makeup or hair, have a creative thought, write, think outside the box, or juggle. Shit, lawyer is about the only job for which I am qualified.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Bar Exam Thought of the Day

Re Handwriting: If my "u" looks like a "v" and my "c" looks like a "u" and my "r" looks like a "v" or "u" and my "e" looks like an archaic Alchemist symbol for sulfur, then whenever I write the word "occurrence" will the Bar Exam Grader constructively know that my answer stinks?

Friday, July 25, 2008

83 Hours . . .

Alright, now I am starting to get stressed out. Usually I only get a little stressed out the night before the exam. But here it is, three evenings ahead, and I am not sure I can take it anymore.

All the professional attorneys that I have talked about the bar exam have all made a similar comment. Something like, "By the time you get around to taking it, you are so stressed out, that you do not even care if you pass it. You just want it done and over with."

I am starting to come around to that line of thinking. I really do not much care anymore. Sure there is still a lot of work to do (written, unconditional, promise to pay, order or bearer, a sum certain, of money, with no extraneous undertaking--Is that all the elements of negotiability? feel like I am missing one, and hence the problem (note: have not looked at commercial paper in at least five days)).

I think the persecuted crack smoker said it best, "I want my life back."

I have been doing a bunch of advanced questions on StudySmart in lots of 17. Current relevant percentages: Property: 73%.* Evidence: 40%. I get property. I like property. I like property because you read the question, figure out the answer, then look at the options and pick the one that conforms to the answer you already decided. Evidence (and Torts and K), you have to read the damn entire answer 90% of the time. Aww fuck it. "D" for esquire right?

In addition to the regular stress of the Test, others things weighing on my mind:

  • I had to go to the Wal-Mart today to get a new battery put in a watch. This is annoying for several reasons. First, I have not worn a watch in years. I do not even know the last time I wore one. So for the last couple of days I was wearing a watch that did not work, just so I could used to it. Annoyance. Second, I had planned on using a pocket watch for the exam, but because the bar examiners do not allow watches on the table (the constant looking down at a watch situated on my leg would look suspicious), I have to practice wearing a watch. Third, I swear I am not driving more until I have to, wait this should be next
  • I am not driving any more unless absolutely necessary. In the last couple of days I have either gotten stuck behind some slow ass dick, railroaded, or almost sideswiped by some ass who ran a stop sign. Fuck that. I am living off iced tea and butter for the next three days.
  • Conan was on vacation this week. How am I supposed to sleep if I cannot drift away to the smooth stylings of Conan jokes that I have not heard before? Fuck him.
  • I check to make sure that my pink voucher is sitting on the table where I left at least 20 times an hour.
  • I think I am up to about 2 1/2 packs a day. This is getting ridiculous. I am quitting within a month of the bar. For serious.
  • I waste too much time with stupid blog posts.
Alright, enough bitching.

And I just realized that it is Friday. So no daily show. I guess I should just study for another hour.

*seriously, how was I supposed to know that right of refusal is not subject to RAP when it was given to the first leasehold, even though the leaseholder subsequently assigned the K such that the right of refusal touched and concerned the land? Yeah, what I just wrote does not even make sense to me and I probably fucked up the law on that somehow, but just goes to show how fucked up that question was.

Bar Exam Thought of the Day

Uhhh . . .

But the real hilarious part is that she has a website devoted to helping people pass the bar.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Bar Exam Thought of the Day

Two unoriginal thoughts today (that is why there is two), blatantly stolen from the works of Joss Whedon.

Captain Hammer sings:

Don’t worry if it’s hard,
if you’re not a friggin' ‘tard you will prevail

Whistler says:

There are moments in your life that make you, that set the course of who you're gonna be. Sometimes they're little, subtle moments. Sometimes they're not. I'll show you what I mean . . .

. . .

Bottom line is, even if you see 'em coming, you're not ready for the big moments. No one asks for their life to change, not really. But it does. So what are we, helpless? Puppets? No. The big moments are gonna come. You can't help that. It's what you do afterwards that counts. That's when you find out who you are. You'll see what I mean.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Bar Exam Thought of the Day

If this study makes you more confident about the Bar Exam, I have some bad news for you.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Just Call Me Doctor Claw

I have spent the last few days doing a lot of writing. I had originally intended to do a full day of Exam Writing just like the real Bar exam (with the exception of three essays instead of an MPT, with 12 essay topics, it would have worked out well), but I decided that that idea was stupid. Not wholly stupid, but the reasons behind the decision were stupid. I was not doing it to test my knowledge, but rather to exercise my hand for the grueling six hours of writing.

I figured out a couple days ago that there was a better way to do my training; one that is conducive to learning (i.e. memorization). I decided to just re-write my notes. The lecture notes that is. But to make it feel like I was doing more than just re-writing my lecture notes, I pulled out the mini-review (literally) and the big outline, to cross check anything I was unsure about and find the random factoids (err, lawoids), that Kaufman neglected to mention because he was too concerned with spending 20 minutes on getting the correct exam answer for some question rather than an exhaustive survey of the law.*

This was a ridiculously long process. I started, I think on Friday (might have been Saturday, my short term memory is shot (because I have to remember all these rules and exceptions and exceptions to the exceptions)), and wrote for as long as I could. I think it was about eight hours. Then, the next day, I continued the process, but could barely write for five hours. Yeah, that was Saturday, because Sunday I took most of the day off to go buy a new computer (more on this at some point, I have a lot of bitching to do about my old computer). Sunday was not a total waste, because I outlined Family Law (such Fun! Wish I could do that again), even though my arm was still in pain and I could barely grip my Dr. Grip. (I had originally intended to use cheap pens, and by cheap I mean the box of 36 Papermates I bought at Office Max for $2.50 because I fully expect that is what will be given us for the bar exam, but that lasted about two hours. Fuck those pens, it is not just the fact that they are skinny, but also the shitty rollerball they have. A crappy pen requires more force against the paper, while my sweet Dr. Grip, despite its name, glides elegantly across the page, depositing the ideal amount of ink to form a letter with minimal effort. (not as great as a ceramic pen, but good enough that it does not bug me incessantly.))

So, to shorten this up, because yous probably have shit to do, the plan worked. I wrote for six hours today. There was not a lot of pain, just mostly a lingering a soreness, such that I am confident that I will have the ability to write for six hours without the pain bugging me.

Granted there is one problem. I decided to celebrate the finishing of the outline writing by drinking a Bud Light. However, my arm/hand is so exhausted that I could not twist off the top. I do not know if that is more pathetic or sad. At least my bottle opener still works. If I still cannot twist off a top by Sunday, I will be worried about arm fatigue.

But now I suppose I should start worrying about actually knowing the stuff that is going to be tested.

*Not a bad thing, just not how I would have taught it. I get a little leery about this approach because at least three times during BarBri, the instructor would say something like, "Then in February '07, they caught us off guard by including this fact which requires this analysis." BarBri is rightly reactionary, and they rightly focus the lectures on the most heavily tested areas (and previously tested areas), but I get all paranoid by these statements. It has gotten to the point that I am positive that there is going to be one question on the essay where I am just like, What the Fuck is that? Thankfully, I have come to grips with this, i.e. the fact there is going to be something on the exam where I have absolutely no clue what they want me to talk about. My plan is to take a deep breath, put on my bull shitting pants and start each line with these letters, no matter what:


Bar Exam Thought of the Day

I wonder if I should fast on Monday, because I am going to be spending all day Tuesday pulling knowledge out of my ass and I do not want any shit to get in the way.

Monday, July 21, 2008


Brand New is coming to Chicago just a couple days after the Bar Exam. Of course, by the time I found about it, the show was already sold out. Dang. I really probably could have used something like this after the exam:

Nevermind. I am too damn old for that now. I think I might just sit in an empty bar sipping a scotch, while Perry Como plays on the jukebox.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Nice Break

For that those that are unaware, I am a Joss Whedon fanboy. I have all the Buffy, Angel, and Firefly DVDs and am eagerly anticipating his new show.

But anyway, he has a new internet production out. It has Doogie, Mal Reynolds, one of the potential slayers and lots and lots of songs. Plus, hilarity.

So if the final week and half of bar study is getting you down, or you just have 45 minutes to kill, check it out. Oh, and it will only be available until the 20th (FYI Act III goes up on Saturday), so watch it.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Houston, We Have A Problem

BarBri homework tonight was to write two MPTs. Seeing as how in two and half weeks I am going to have write almost constantly for six hours, I figured 180 minutes of MPTs would be good practice. So I self-scheduled them back to back. When the finish alarm went off for the first one, I would begin the second.

It did not work out that way. If you are unfamiliar with an MPT, it involves 45 minutes of reading, then 45 minutes of writing. I made it through 25 minutes of writing the first one when my right started to hurt. Bad. Three years of taking notes on a computer in law school has severely hampered had writing endurance. This could be a problem, because I am hand writing my exams.

I did make it through the first practice MPT by doing the ol' hand shake every three minutes to keep the blood flowing. It was rough. Sometimes you just have to suck it up and take it. Even when it is practice.

However, I am no masochist. I did not immediately start the second MPT, but rather took a 30 minute break (coincidently, same time as the Simpsons). Granted, this break was extended by the 35 minutes it took me to prepare to write the second MPT, but my hand still hurt while I wrote. So just looked into my inner Brett Favre, popped eight vicodin, and made it through. Not really, I sucked it up and took it like a man.

I am already planning on self-scheduling two writing days in the next couple of weeks where I write nine essays and an MPT over the same schedule as the actual bar exam for the sole purpose of right hand endurance.

But the thing that really concerns me is this. I hold a pen in a fucked up manner. Remember in second grade when they gave you those pencil grips to teach you how to hold a pencil correctly? I hated those damn things, so to this day, I still hold a pen the same way you would grip the handle on a pull start lawn mower. It is not that delicate.

Before this whole bar study fiasco started, I was well aware of this limitation. So I compensated. I went out and spent 12 hard loaned dollars on a Doctor Grip Pen and a Doctor Grip Pencil. This is by far the best pen for a person with a neanderthal-like pen grip. It is a pretty sweet pen (though no match for the $25 pen I used for five years until I lost it, or the ungodly great $300 pen (pictures of this make me salivate)), and was anticipating the massive benefits that this would reward me.

Turns out, I wasted my money. As those taking the IL bar know, there is a new rule states you cannot use your own fucking pen. Alright, I understand that no matter what anyone does, someone is going to cheat on the bar exam. It is a fact of life. I am sure that people at my law school cheated (no personal knowledge of course). I am sure that people at your law school cheated. Hell, even I cheated once in my life. But if I was sitting next to a person who took apart his pen, pulled out a little scroll of paper, I would report it. Assuming I saw it. But isn't this why there are proctors. They should not be paid to read Danielle Steele novels for six hours.

Now I am going to be stuck writing with a shitty skinny Bic pen for six hours. Have you ever used a Bic pen for extended time? The first thing that happens is that the roller ball gets out of whack. Suddendly there is ink leaking all over the place. My law school books are filled with ink stains from the rollerball in a shitty pen releasing more ink than it should have. Then, when the rollerball gets so damn clogged, you have to actually wipe the excess ink off somewhere. In my law school books, I just did that on the page, I mean fuck it, I will just sell it later. On the Bar, I am sure the examiner does not want to see a huge ink stain in the creases of the bluebook (or whatever they give us to write on, I have no clue. I do know that there is no scratch paper to take care of this problem). Plus, PLUS, these pens invariably suck. You know how you have disposable razors to shave your face and/or legs. And about 1 out of four of these razors are super razors. Razors that work so damn well you never want to get rid of them, but eventually you do because you have used it for two months and it does not seem right to use it anymore. Then you put on a new razor and it just fucking sucks. Not close, leaves tons of stubble, making you wonder if it would be wrong to pick the discarded super razor out of used dental floss and used up deodorant dispensers. Its that 1/4 of the razors that make you truely appreciate the 1/4th that are super. The same is true of cheap pens. A couple work fine. One works fantastic and you actually use it (assuming you do not lose it first) until the ink is actually gone. Then there is that one that is a turd, that makes it three minutes beofre your hand and shirt and paper are covered in ink. Fuck that pen.

They give you two pens at the start of the essay. I bet I get two stinkers.

Do not even get me started on the pencils. Thankfully, they have a sharpener at the front of the room. YAY! This is not good for me. I went through one whole piece of lead in my mechanical pencil on the practice exam. When I take a multiple choice test, I mark the crap out of it. In a fact pattern I simultaneously make notes in the margin while I continue to read. I see a fact, I mark everything that the fact could implicate, even if it is irrelevant (at least at this point, my recall is not absolute yet). Regardless, I underline, write incomprehensible notes, and make unascertainable abbreviations. But hey, it works for me. If two pencils get me through an hour I will be impressed.

I usually try not to rant about trivial shit, but this is just fucking stupid. If this was a constitutional issue, it would pass a rational basis test, but not rational basis with bite. Looks like I am doing my two practice writing days with a shitty Bic. When my hand cramps into a claw after July 30th, you will know who to blame.

Unrelated news:

Odd results from the practice MBE. I got 47% of the Torts questions correct. Seriously, that sucks. What the Fuck? Torts is easy. However, if the 12 hours of MBE review was good for anything, it was good for understanding why I missed the tort questions I did. With a bit more studying, I am going to get 30 out of 34 on the torts section. Of that I have no doubt.

Oddly, my best score came in property at 75% correct. You can all take a second to curse me. It makes sense. If there was any topic that I hated the most in law school and hardly tried at, it was Torts. If there was any subject that was hard to understand, and hence I spent a shit ton of time on, it was Property. I actually delayed my Property II exam a day after studying for it for four days because I was I was so unsure of the material, even though it left me with one day rest between my other four exams. It is nice to hear that law school is actually going to help me on the bar.

In non bar related news, after I finished taking the MPT, I decided to scroll through the hundreds of unread posts in my Google Reader, and happened upon MJD's annoucement that the new Pro Football Prospectus was out. One minute later I was starting my car, heading to the local borders. I had a bunch of shit I wanted to write about this, but the post is long enough. I may delve more into my fanboy love of football outsiders later. If you are so unlucky.

Monday, July 07, 2008

What To Expect From Law School--Part 1

"See, the sad thing about a guy like you is in 50 years you're going to start doing some thinking on your own and you're going to come up with the fact that there are two certainties in life. One, don't do that. And two, you dropped one hundred fifty grand on a fucking education you could have gotten for a dollar fifty in late charges at the public library "

---Good Will Hunting

I have recently been getting a lot of hits from what I assume are people who are entering their first year of law school in the fall (i.e. What to expect from law school or Hardest part of law school).(Every one else is interested in diamond rings). So this is my attempt to distill my knowledge into a short primer (and to take a break from bar study because two hours of that shit fries your brain).

Starting simple. What is the hardest part of law school. That is easy. Final exams. Next question.

Alright, here is some more detail on that. The vast majority of law school classes have one exam. And that is it. That is your grade. Unlike in undergrad you are not going to be able learn everything you need to know in one 24 hour bender the day before the exam. Well you might, but not many people can. So you have to go to class. You have to take good notes. You have to do the assigned reading before class. You have to brief those cases you just read. Granted, this only applies if you are trying to do well. But you should follow those tips for at least the first year, do your best, and then see where you stand. (This is also an option).

The long and short of exams is that 14 weeks comes down to two, three or four hours. Keep that in mind on a Wednesday afternoon when all you want to do is go out and get hammered because your brain is already fried.

As long as we are talking about exams, let's take a look at the classes. First year your classes are likely to be Criminal Law, Torts, Con[stitutional] Law, Contracts, Property, Civ[il] Pro[cedure], Crim[inal] Pro[cedure], and some sort of writing class. Now, the important thing to realize at the outset, is that each of these topics (save Civ Pro) are tested on the MBE. Civ Pro is going to be on the essay portion of the bar exam. Each class presents its own challenges, except for Torts, Torts is fucking easy.

I hated contracts. I still hate contracts. But that is probably because the text book did not even discuss how a contract is formed until my second semester. Also, conditions, still do not understand them. They should be easy, but I read that shit in the Bar Bri outline, and I am more confused than ever. And that is my contracts rant (though I somehow did well in contracts class. To be fair, I probably thought I understood it better when I took the test than I realize how poorly I understood now. Confidence is key.)

Of those classes, Con Law is the one that really only presents an abnormal level of difficulty (but note, Crim Pro is virtually a Con Law class too, but solely focuses on the 4th, 5th, and 6th Amendments). Supreme Court Judges like to use big words. And they love to spend eight pages explaining something when a half a paragraph would suffice. They love to refer back to every case the Court has ever decided in the same opinion. And they love to obfuscate what they said in those cases. Plus, it is the one class where dissents actually matter. Other than Con Law I can think of one case off the top of my head where a dissent mattered (Palsgraf; but I did just take the BarBri Torts class a couple days ago).

In addition, Justices hate to be clear. They cannot just lay out the rules as you learn them (Rational Basis, Strict Scrutiny and Intermediate Scrutiny), but continually use different language for the same test. It is highly annoying. So here is my trick for Con Law. Wikipedia. It is like a ready made case brief. For instance, if you read the SCOTUS opinions for Hamdi and Hamdan, they are almost impenetrable (and fucking long, but casebooks edit the cases they present). But read Hamdi or Hamdan on wikipedia and they almost make sense. (or just read about the case that came down this term)

The other hardest part of Law School is finding a job. But you should not worry about that now. Because the best part of Law School is that you have three years where you do not have to work. Some people do. I did not (other than a summer assoc position, but that does not count really). Sure, the cover charge is steep, but I have the rest of my life to work and I love to stay up until four and sleep until noon everyday.

Yeah, there are other good parts too. Making new friends, learning stuff, getting blitzed the day finals end, etc. But really, none of the best reasons for going to law school are the reason you are going. Keep that in mind too.

More thoughts on law school coming soon.

Practice Test

Today was the BarBri MBE practice test. A fun filled six hours of practice guessing, practice #2-ing circles, and practice holding in one's piss. In retrospect, not really that fun, except for the fact that it was merely practice and there is still a three weeks and a day until the real thing. Still seems a long ways a way. It felt closer at the end of May, before classes started and I was staring at a giant pile of books I would have to read multiple times in the next two months. Now, eh, plenty of time. I am considering taking the week off (other than class of course) to rest up for the two week surge of rudimentary understanding. I probably will not though. The last five days have consisted of (Wed.) me going to a concert in the city and getting shit-faced, (Thurs) actually studying (but skipped class), then going bowling and getting shitfaced, (Fri) going to a wedding (yeah, what the fuck right), and getting shit-faced and passing out at 9:30 missing the fireworks, and Sat. and Sun. were highly uneventful, involving listening to the Property I lecture that I missed and forcing myself to read the Property lecture notes. Yep, that is all I did on Saturday and Sunday.

But today was practice real thing. Because I am nerd, I graded my own test when I got home (actually, graded a.m. exam at lunch. Had to know you know). I am pretty happy with the results. Raw scored a 131. Should have been a 132 but I made a transcribing error on my answer sheet. They, whoever they are, say that your score goes up 20 points between practice and the actual thing so I am hopefully looking at a 150, which means I should have taken MI's bar.

But there were several shocking things I learned over the course of the Practice Test:

  • I Was legitimately surprised at the number of of answers I knew were 100%. In that there were shockingly few of them. In law school, I only had one multiple choice test out of 5 or 6 where I was not positive I got at least 75% right. Here, it was maybe 20%, if that.
  • What the fuck is up with intoxication questions? Shit, every other question has some jackass getting loaded. It seemed excessive. I wonder if the actual bar exam is similar. Needless to say, six hours of reading about defendants and tortfeasors getting plowed made me a little thirsty. This liquor store across the street appreciates your efforts Conviser.
  • I know nothing of the elements of any crime. I knew them pretty well about three weeks ago, which incidentally was the last time I looked at the Criminal Law Outline. Arson, Common Law Murder? I know they have something in common, no clue what it is. I have not bothered to look it up.
  • Ditto for Torts, except it has probably been four weeks. I know a lot of this stuff, but I could not articulate it. An essay on Tort or Crim. Law would screw me at this point. On the exam, I played the "One of these things is not like the other" game.

  • Back to arson for second. Those arson questions were ridiculous. There were like six of them that involved arson. Who the fuck cares about arson? May as well ask me a mayhem question (though I probably have a better shot at getting this one right. Hard to forget what mayhem is).
  • I Love the Constitution. There is a lot of good stuff in the Constitution. Why I have to know if something is EPC or Due Process of the 14th Amendment or Art. IV something when I could find the answer in two seconds on Wikipedia is beyond me. I know the fucking test, lets move on.
Those are the random annoyances I have. The amazing thing is that, despite my shaky grasp of the material, how many more questions I should have gotten right. There were about 40 questions that I missed that I simply had no fucking clue what the answer was. I did not check the ones I got right, so I do not remember how many wild ass guesses were right. Probably a few, though 40 does seem a bit high for the questions I had no clue on. So this means on 30 to 40 of the questions I missed, I narrowed it down to two and picked wrong. It was surprising how many these turned on understanding the difference between "if" or "once" and I just completely missed it.

Boils down to poor reading comprehension skills. Sure, it is time pressure and all that, but it does not excuse not understanding why every single word is used in the fact pattern and or answer. Something to work on. As I have mentioned before, I have not been practicing taking tests, so maybe that comes with more exposure.

I think I had some overarching point. But it is lost to me know. If this needs to be continued I will post it, sometime in the next year or so.