Monday, April 20, 2015

Five Years Later

A recent google search about another matter allowed me to arrive at this blog after nearly five years of neglect. I was so happy to see recent comments were made by readers who liked what they read. I’m glad others chimed in as well.

I’ll be happy to update my saga, especially since people are asking. More importantly, I hope that this can continue to be a helpful source to those, like me, who encounter law school as anything but a routine process.

I’ve never thought of myself as someone who wants to steal thunder away from those who do well in law school, but attending law school has made me believe steadfastly that some of the best future legal talent lies in those people who struggle through it. We live in an era where law schools and business schools are attempting to prove themselves as the only real useful training that higher education has to offer, outside of perhaps med school and engineering school.

I have lots more stories about my experiences as a law student over the past five years. For now, I believe I left off with my attempts to pass the Baby Bar (FYLSE).

Based on your comments, I do need to clear up some of the rules about this. Like the California Bar, you can take the Baby Bar as many times as you want. The only restriction is you can’t get your studies at a correspondence school or at an unaccredited brick-and-mortar school to count, unless you pass the Baby Bar by the third time it is held after the successful conclusion of your first year. In other words, if you conclude your first year in the month of June, you can take the Baby Bar the following October as the first attempt, the following June as the second attempt, and the October after that as the third attempt, but skipping any of these “attempts” does not buy you more time. They count as an “attempt” whether you sit for it or not.

I was in a different category, as someone who had been culled or academically disqualified from an ABA-accredited law school. I did not sit for my “first attempt” of the Baby Bar, because my school was offering one more semester to disqualified students as a “retesting” period: you were given one more chance to pass the exams with a C+ or better, which I did not accomplish. My “second attempt” was therefore actually my first (June 2010), which I did not pass.

The following September, I enrolled in an unaccredited law school that today no longer exists. That meant, I had only one more chance to pass the Baby Bar (my “third attempt,” which was actually my second) if those courses were to count. I did not pass the October 2010 Baby Bar either, leaving me once again knocked down in the dirt.

Nonetheless, I did enroll for the June 2011 Baby Bar, even though it didn’t count for anything. I passed it with lots of room to spare.

As far as the statistics went, 24.6% of all test-takers passed the June 2010 Baby Bar; 19.5% passed the October 2010; and 18.7% passed the June 2011. That means that of my three attempts, I passed the hardest one.

I can say that I benefited because the June 2011 Baby Bar had two criminal law questions on it, and I was strongest in criminal law. There was a rare nuisance question that I did not do well on. As far the multiple choice questions, I got a surprising 85% correct.

But as I said, my finally passing the Baby Bar amounted to nothing, except as a bargaining chip to get into another school, which might agree to allow me credit for some of those first-year courses.

What happened instead was that at the beginning of 2011, I started courting other ABA-accredited schools with the intention of starting completely over with my law studies. This is consistent with another rule here in California that if you are disqualified after your first year, you can become eligible to enroll again at a law school after three years. Because I was disqualified after my first year in 2008-2009, I could enroll again for law school beginning in the fall of 2011.

One of the ongoing influences here were the student loans I had taken out in 2008-2009, which I continued to dodge with forbearances and unemployment deferments, but these were running out. Even though my original school rejected my application for re-admittance (probably with some good cause, although I did feel betrayed), I got accepted into another ABA-accredited school’s fulltime day program.

So there you have it: a law school experience that stretched out into six years instead of three; a Baby Bar that I finally passed on my third attempt, but not the required “third attempt” to make any courses in my past count; a second year commenced at an unaccredited school that amounted to nothing; but finally, a rebirth of sorts at a new ABA-accredited school. I graduated with a J.D. last May. I am awaiting results from the California Bar Exam which I took last February.

There is no moral to this tale yet. It keeps going. I do not know how I will be accepted into the lawyer community, but suffice it to say that I have my doubts after these experiences that it will be an easy transition.

In Hesse’s Demian, the hero is asked to look upon the mark on Cain’s forehead not as a curse, but as a badge of courage. Somehow, that’s how I am trying to interpret all this. If anyone else reading this relates to any of my missteps here and feel you have a mark on your forehead, I encourage you to try feeling the same way. Be bad.