There’s not much shame in failing. The problem with failing is that you have to do something again if it was worth trying in the first place. Sometimes, you have to internalize a lot of costs because of the failure. That can be worse than shame, because then there is even more pressure to finish what you started.
I failed the bar exam. I paid for the prep class ($2000+). I paid for the extra rent for my apartment in Vermont ($800 per month). I paid to fly to Oregon ($$$$) and stay at the hotel for the bar exam ($$$). I paid for the bar exam ($625), and for the extra software so I could write my essays on my laptop ($125). It was not cheap, and now I have to do it again, but with less hope that I will pass. If you have to take the exam again, your chances lower significantly. But, I have turned in my bar application again, which was super easy the second time, and I included a check. That is really difficult, since I currently work as a volunteer intern and have no income. Did I mention I’m interning overseas and my BarBri books cost more to ship, I had to pay $50 for a notary to sign my bar application, and I have to pay a few hundred to get my BarBri books out of customs? Costly.
I hate it. I’m no longer downtrodden, but resigned. Did I put in enough effort the first time? How will I put in enough effort the second time when now, I have a job and there are other activities. This isn’t like last time when I had all day, everyday to sit and study, and had eight weeks after law school graduation to prepare. I don’t know that I can pass. My scores from the first exam weren’t actually that bad.
What I do know is that I’m not alone. Thankfully, some of my law school friends told me they didn’t pass either. I was surprised with who didn’t pass. I know they put in a lot of time, and they didn’t have the distractions that were so common to me. Maybe there’s a higher power directing this traffic of who passes and who doesn’t? Just like who lives and who doesn’t? It feels that way.
I know that the bar exam doesn’t have to do with how “smart” I am. It has to do with how well I can memorize and regurgitate paragraphs that should be triggered by certain key phrases. This makes me crazy. Why did I pay so much, twice now, to be tested on something I will never use in my practice? Also, at least in Oregon, where I am taking the exam, there is no state-specific law on the bar exam! I have a JD, I know how to analyze laws, and the way states interpret laws is so important to any case, so why is there this method for testing me on whether I am able of practicing law?
Of course, there’s the added problem of applying for “real” jobs. I’m interning right now, for what it’s worth, but what happens after I take the exam in February? I have no prospects for jobs, and I’m applying to jobs below my skills set, that pay less than my education is worth. I’d be very happy in a policy campaign job, and I cannot even try to apply to many attorney jobs. It doesn’t matter that I AM a lawyer. I am not barred anywhere, so I am basically NOT a lawyer. This is very depressing considering my education cost me a cool quarter million dollars. Ugh. I will have to sell my first-born child, who I won’t be able to afford, to pay my monthly student loan installments. I wish I had bought a house! I could downgrade from a house! Liquidate that asset! I can’t go back to just having a B.S.