The Calico Cat
A weblog about business, economics, law, politics, and current events - nothing about cats
How I Passed the New York Bar Exam
posted November 21, 2003
It was a cold and snowy dayÖ
OK, letís back up a bit. I graduated from Arizona State University College of Law in 1994, and I passed the Arizona bar exam with flying colors. But alas, fate took a turn for the worse, and I wound up working in New York City as the ďCollections Manager/Associate CounselĒ at a software company.
Not everyone was lucky enough to pass the bar exam as easily as I did. I know people who failed the bar exam. I know someone who passed it, but insists that the only reason is because Jesus came to him while he was taking a shower.
Being a member of the Arizona Bar did me no good in New York State, and being that my title was ďAssociate CounselĒ, I felt that it was important to take the New York bar exam. Because the New York bar exam covers several New York specific topics, and because I knew I had forgotten much of what I learned for the June bar exam, I thought I needed to take another BAR/BRI course.
The BAR/BRI class for the Arizona bar was great. We had live lecturers who I actually enjoyed listening to. My only regret is that I had to miss the OJ car chase to attend one of the classes. The chase had begun, and I was watching it in my apartment, but then I had to leave to go to the class. There wasnít even a TV at the law school to tune into during the breaks, but several students called home from the pay phone (this was before cell phones) to get the latest updates. By the time the class ended, OJ had been apprehended. I am still disappointed that I had to miss the whole thing.
The BAR/BRI class for the New York bar exam was a big disappointment. Having to work all day, the last thing I wanted to do afterwards was take a subway to midtown and then spend four hours at a boring bar review class in an overheated room where there wasnít even a live lecturer, but just a TV set. Then I had to take a subway back to the Staten Island Ferry after 10 PM. (One thing I learned was that the subways are perfectly safe after 10 PM. Donít let anyone tell you otherwise.)
Eventually, I couldnít stand going to the awful classes, so I stopped. Signing up for the BAR/BRI class, plus paying the big fee to take the bar exam, turned out to be a pretty big waste of money.
Finally, bar exam day arrived. The New York bar exam that February was given at a dock over the Hudson River. I can still remember sitting in that huge cavernous room, which must have housed thousands of unfortunate wannabe attorneys, attentively taking the exam.
The essay questions were the worst part. Because I gave up on the stupid BAR/BRI classes, I was completely clueless with respect to several of the questions. After only an hour and a half (out of three hours), I had absolutely nothing else to write. So I turned it in, and walked out. I must have been the first person in the entire hall to finish during that morning session. I felt like every eye in the whole place was watching me leave, wondering what could make someone walk out in the middle of the exam. The afternoon session wasnít much better.
I also remember the snow. I was watching it fall through the big windows while I was taking the exam. It would have been pretty, watching the snow fall over the Hudson River, were it not for the fact that I was there to take the stupid New York bar exam and not watch the snow.
So how did I do? I passed. Yes, I passed the dreaded New York bar exam despite walking out halfway though the test. Iím sure it was my kick ass score on the multiple choice multi-state section that pulled me through. I think I scored a 172 on it, which was a 12 point decline over the 184 that I scored the first time when I took it in Arizona. I was told that 184 was the highest score in the state, and close to the highest score in the nation. (Sorry for bragging about that, but itís the high point of my non-career as an attorney.)
I passed the New York bar exam but never became a member of the New York Bar. After you pass, they send you this huge application to fill out, and by that time I had decided I had no interest in ever practicing law in New York State. I moved back to Arizona. Moving across the country was easier than filling out the application.
If you happened to come across this page, thereís a good chance you were looking for information about the New York bar exam. This probably means youíre a 3L. I guess that means itís too late to tell you to drop out of law school before itís too late. But if you happen to be a 1L, do yourself a favor, drop out, do something else with your life. Donít waste three years of it in law school.