You just took the bar exam. You have survived hundreds of hours of studying. You have wrestled with the multi-day test. Let that sink in. Allow yourself to be proud of that accomplishment.
So, what now? For months you have meticulously scheduled every single day - when to wake up, what to eat, when to study, what time to go sleep, etc. If you are anything like me, you may feel lost now that the bar is over. To make matters worse, the bar results are not released for months. What to do with all this free time?
Here are five (5) suggestions of things to do while waiting for bar results:
You have devoted so much time and energy preparing for the bar exam that now it is over, it feels weird to do anything else. But, give your mind, body, and soul a break and treat yourself.
You may be reluctant to treat yourself at this point. You are probably thinking, it is too early…you will treat yourself once you have actually passed the bar exam. However, you have already succeeded—you have survived one of the hardest challenges of your life. And, when bar exam results are published in four months and you pass, you can treat yourself again.
Reconnect with Loved Ones
Attorneys love to share bar exam stories and one theme is constant: we each had champions – loved ones who helped immensely. Although you were the one who sat for the exam, you did not take the bar exam entirely on your own. Whether it was your spouse who maintained the household and cared for the rest of the family so that you could focus, or your parent who did absolutely everything for you, or your friend who, on the day of the test, drove you to the convention center and brought you lunch, we each can point to someone who was with us every step of the way.
Your loved ones deserve to be appreciated for putting up with you for ten long weeks. Now is a perfect time to reconnect with them and show your appreciation and gratitude for what they have done.
Refocus on your Health
Countless studies have shown how important our physical wellbeing is to our health. However, many bar-takers, myself included, put their physical health on the back burner during the long weeks of bar study. You find that you do not quite have time to cook the healthiest meals or follow your regular workout regimen. But now you have the opportunity to get back on track.
After the bar, I signed up for a half-marathon obstacle course in Lake Tahoe and trained with two other friends who had also taken the bar exam. The strict regimen and training schedule reminded us of our time preparing for the bar exam. When we finally completed the race, we all shared a sense of relief and accomplishment. In a weird way this experience allowed us to move away from feeling nervous about bar results and put our focus back on our health.
The most interesting aspect about waiting for bar results is the dance you find yourself in with potential employers. You spend your time applying and interviewing with the expectation (and hope) that you will pass the bar. Any job offers you receive are typically contingent on your passing the bar. This only increases the stakes and makes the anticipation for bar results that much more stressful.
One thing I found really helped was to keep my mind busy and active by volunteering my time. If you do not already have a clerkship or position at a law firm, then go out and volunteer for one. Whether for a judge, a nonprofit, or a law firm, you can always offer your time, skills, and energy during the months of wait. More importantly, this can be an opportunity to get your foot in the door with that judge, firm, or organization that you always liked but just never had the time for during law school.
My time volunteering while waiting for bar results exposed me to areas of law that I had not had the opportunity to learn about during law school - not to mention all the new and practical things I was learning from seeing attorneys and judges at work. My time volunteering also gave me a sense of what I wanted to do as a lawyer once bar results were available.
These days you need to bring a lot more to the table than just good work product. Networking is an essential part of any successful legal career, but it cannot be taught. Rather it is one of those things that you learn as you go. You do not have to be great at networking but just put yourself out there. Be friendly. Be genuine. The “networking” will happen on its own.
During the months of waiting, I attended as many networking events as I could. It turns out, the legal community is actually fairly small and if you are around often enough, people will start to remember you. This is a good thing. Attending these events gave me the opportunity to meet other recent graduates who had also just taken the bar. I also became acquainted with the lawyers and judges who I would be working with one day. You do not need to wait for bar results to become part of your local legal community.
Congratulations. It was hard work but you survived taking the bar exam. Trust me you will survive the next four long months waiting for your results. Find something productive to do with your time and believe in yourself.
Good luck with your bar results.