For most of the people in the United States, today is just Monday, July 24. But for thousands of would-be practitioners, today is something far more sinister: the day before the bar exam.
Assuming you’re a member of the group sitting on the other side of the bar, the Promised Land of Practice, the bar is just a distant bad memory. (Not distant enough for some of us; though I took my first bar exam over 13 years ago, my most recent — dare I say last? — was just one year ago. Not distant enough.)
And what of the Promised Land of Practice? How’s that treating you? This is a good time of year to get back in touch with what brought you to a legal practice. Remember being that kid, with a head crammed full of black letter law, not to mention plenty of bar review lore? Why did you put yourself through two (or, in some states, three) days of agony? Did you want to be a big-time litigator? Did you want to help victims of domestic violence? Did you plan to set the world on fire with your legal scholarship, after serving a few years in a law firm?
And where are you now? Are those dreams still alive? Granted that you’ve learned a huge amount since you took the bar and perhaps changed your goals; are you expressing the values that made you willing to endure that grueling experience?
If not, you aren’t alone. What one change can you make today that will bring you additional satisfaction? Some ideas: improving your client development skills so you can move closer to your dream of making partner; committing to attending NITA training so your next trial may run more smoothly; working on time management; perhaps making a job or career change to build a work life that works for you. Sometimes it takes only small changes to reap big results, something as simple as deciding to go to the gym before work so you build more stamina. Sometimes it’s making a short-term sacrifice, like deciding to volunteer for the big case that no one else wants to work on so you can get two years of experience crammed into nine harried months.
While you’re at it…. Can you still quote the Rule in Shelley’s case?