The Almost Daily Word – The Seven Deadly Sins of Bar Exam Preparation

“Don’t let your sins turn into bad habits.” – St. Teresa of Avila

I’ve been thinking about the California Bar Exam for over 35 years. Scary? – I know!

During that time I’ve been:

– A Bar Exam grader (10 years, about 20,000 answer books)
– A Committee of Bar Examiners member (policy maker, nationwide testing network participant)
– The State Bar Examinations Director (former frightened exam-taker, now in charge – sort of)- A Bar Exam tutor, and
– A law school faculty-member.

During that time, just as most applicants typically are, I’ve been preoccupied with what skills a student must take into the exam to succeed: legal analysis, legal application, organization, perceptive reading, topic heading composition, rule statement memorization, how to write essays, how to write performance tests, MBE strategies … the list seems endless.

Only lately (better late than never?) I’ve begun to reflect on something that has been ubiquitous, but that I noticed only over a long time and only with my “emotional peripheral vision.” Something that I may having been trying to avoid without realizing it. Something that may be none of my business. But something that feels critical to me as a human being struggling to achieve his own successes and deal with his own failures, who wants to share his thoughts with any willing reader.

What self-defeating traits of character do unsuccessful applicants have in common?

Over the next seven entries, bluntly and candidly, but, hopefully, also with the humility of a person who has ignored more than his full share of good advice and often paid the price, I will, indeed, share my thoughts.

I hope you’ll stick around to read them.

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