No Bar Exam, No Problem?

February 7, 2014

Law schoolThere are three questions that aren’t on the bar exam that new lawyers face in practice.

Iowa is considering getting rid of its bar exam for some applicants, and I’m all for it.

My bar prep experience was hectic. I spent every waking moment at school, eating from six vacuum jars of oatmeal, tea, coffee, green smoothies, and soups. Chalkboard after chalkboard filled up with illegible notes. And I didn’t have time to write for the blog!

bar exam chalkboard

Looking back, the bar taught me plenty of subjects I didn’t take during law school. However, preparing for the exam and waiting for results was a stressful and expensive process. On-balance, Iowa should adopt the proposal and do away with the bar exam for certain graduates. What do you think?

No matter how you join the profession, there’s a larger issues at stake. How will law practice be different from law school? I can think of three questions that sum it up:

1)  How will you manage your firm’s workload, files and intellectual property?

Did you practice at the Legal Clinic or work at a firm? Gone are the days where a secretary or supervising attorney would keep you on-task, remind you of deadlines, and unearth the perfect paper from a jungle of manila folders.

2)  How will you build your professional reputation?

How much time does it take to find a citation, format a brief, or make a table of authorities? These little things do a lot to build credibility in our detail-oriented profession. How will your work win judges’ approval and other lawyers’ respect…without costing too much for your clients?

3)  How will you turn your time into money?

After you recorded your time at a clerkship, what happened next? Someone else probably reviewed your time, made an invoice, and recorded the payments. How will you keep track of time when you’re busy round-the-clock?

These questions will never be on a bar exam. But, you’ll face them every single day in your practice. So, how will you answer these questions quickly, accurately, and cost-effectively? Stay tuned!