If You’ve Failed The Bar, You’re In Fantastic Company
So, you failed the bar. It stings, doesn’t it?
For three (or four) years, you lived and breathed your case books. You probably gave up a job—not to mention your evenings and weekends—to pursue your dream. Sure, you didn’t graduate at the top of your class, but you were no slouch, either.
After months of studying for the bar, you got this news. You won’t be able to practice just yet. You have to go through it all over again. And you’re starting to wonder if you really have the chops to be a lawyer.
Just remember one thing: You’re not alone. In fact, 21% of first-timers fail the bar exam, according to the National Conference of Bar Examiners. So if you graduated in a class of 400 students, 84 of you probably failed. Even students at the best schools fail the bar. Yale: 5.5% of graduates fail it. Stanford: 6.5%. Those hippies at Berkeley: 12.5%. Georgetown: 10%. UCLA: 12%. You even have schools like Thomas Jefferson and Detroit Mercy where barely half the people pass on their first shots!
Does that make you feel any better?
No? How about this? You actually graduated from law school. Plenty of great people dropped out before they even reached the bar exam! Harry Truman? He couldn’t hack the University of Missouri-Kansas City—and that’s after he served as a judge! Al Gore? He left Vanderbilt—and still managed to invent the internet! Vince Lombardi? He quit after a semester. Can you imagine what Lombardi would’ve done to Bart Starr if he’d given up during the Ice Bowl!
Here’s the best one: Benjamin Cardozo—considered one of the great Supreme Court justices of the 20th Century—was a dropout. He even had a law school named after him!
Get my drift? In at least one way, you’re better than all of these clowns.
Still down? Here’s my final shot. By failing the bar, you’ve actually joined a long and distinguished list. And I’m not talking about actors and writers. Think big—as in some of the top names in law and politics. You’d be shocked at who’s on this list. Would you like me to list them?
No? Well, I’m going to do it anyway. Buckle up…
Governor Jerry Brown: Yeah, “Moonbeam” failed it once… and he went on to become California’s attorney general (and its current governor).
Hillary Clinton: A Yale grad, Clinton failed the District of Columbia bar, but passed the Arkansas bar. Surprisingly, Republicans didn’t call for an investigation.
Kathleen Sullivan: Talk about a teacher being taken to school! A former Stanford dean, Sullivan had passed in New York and Massachusetts, but failed the California bar when she moved there to practice.
Michelle Obama: Now to the national pastime: Hating on Harvard. While the Illinois bar isn’t as onerous as California’s, it still snagged a future first lady.
Governor Deval Patrick: Another Harvard Law grad, Patrick failed the bar twice… and actually admitted it. Then again, it was the California bar. No shame there.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt: More ammo for critics who feel the New Deal was a constitutional farce.
Governor Pete Wilson: What is it with California governors failing the bar exam? OK, maybe California has one of the toughest tests, but did he really need four attempts to pass?
Governor Charlie Crist: Like Brown, the former Florida governor failed the bar and still managed to become a state attorney general and governor. Thank God for second chances (or third chances, in Crist’s case).
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa: If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again… and after four failures, maybe you’re better off serving as mayor of Los Angeles.
Mayor Ed Koch: A temporary setback. Eventually, Koch was elected New York’s mayor and served with honor on The People’s Court.
Mayor Richard M. Daley: Apparently, his daddy’s influence didn’t extend to the state bar.
Governor David Paterson: How is this for shocking: A politician who once failed the New York bar calls to reform it.
Pat Robertson: Truth be told, I would’ve been more surprised if he’d passed it.
There, feel better? Flunking the bar happens, even to the best and brightest. And what does the bar really measure anyway? It sure doesn’t reflect passion or grit or creativity. In the end, lawyers look everything up in the library (well, they go online these days).
So dust yourself off, find your smile, and hit the books. That’s what everyone else did. You’ll eventually get over this hurdle, too.
Source: Above the Law
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