The CA bar exam is one of the most difficult bar exams to pass in the U.S. The fact that CA has over 189,000 active, practicing lawyers and over 57,000 inactive lawyers undoubtedly has something to do with that.
For those of you who are not on the current passing list, stick with it. You are in an illustrious group of successful lawyers who also did not pass at first. Nonetheless, they did not give up. They took the bar exam again and passed.
Statistics show that bar candidates who continue taking the bar exam pass it. Those of you who continue taking the exam will pass, too.
Consider these famous names when you get discouraged
1. Benjamin Cardozo, a Supreme Court Justice we know from the case of Palsgraf v. Long Island Railroad Co. (1926), a leading case we all studied in our 1st year in law school. Justice Cardozo failed the bar exam 5 times. He passed on his 6th attempt.
2. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the 32nd President of the U.S., and the only President elected to serve 4 terms in the White House. President Roosevelt failed the bar exam on his first attempt. He is quoted as saying, "It was hard." He passed on his 2nd attempt.
3. John F. Kennedy, Jr., the son of President John F. Kennedy. Attorney Kennedy, who graduated from the New York University School of Law, and founded the magazine, George, a monthly magazine centered on the theme of politics-as-lifestyle, failed the bar exam twice. He passed on his 3rd attempt.
4. Michelle Obama, the First Lady of the United States from 2009 to 2017. First Lady Obama, who graduated from Harvard Law School, and became, among many other accomplishments, an Associate Dean at the University of Chicago, failed the bar exam on her first attempt. She passed on her 2nd attempt.
5. Hilary Clinton, the First Lady of the United States from 1993 to 2001, a U.S. Senator, and the 67th Secretary of State. Secretary Clinton, who graduated from Yale Law School, failed the District of Columbia bar exam on her first attempt. She went on to pass the Arkansas bar exam on her first attempt.
6. Jerry Brown, the current Governor of CA. Governor Brown, who graduated from Yale Law School, failed the bar exam on his first attempt. He passed on his 2nd attempt.
7. Kamala Harris, the former Attorney General of CA, and a current U.S. Senator from CA. Senator Harris, who graduated from Hastings Law School, failed the bar exam on her first attempt. She passed on her 2nd attempt.
8. Kathleen Sullivan, the former Dean of Stanford Law School from 1999 to 2004. Dean Sullivan, who graduated from Harvard Law School, failed the CA bar exam on her first attempt in 2005. She passed on her 2nd attempt.
9. Pete Wilson, the former Governor of CA. Governor Wilson, who graduated from the UC Berkely School of Law, failed the bar exam three times. He passed on his 4th attempt.
10. Ed Koch, former U.S. House of Representative and Mayor of New York. Mayor Koch, who graduated from the New York University School of Law, failed the bar exam on his first attempt. He passed on his 2nd attempt.
11. Richard Daley, the former State Senator from Illinois, and the former Mayor of Chicago. Mayor Daley, who graduated from the De Paul University College of Law, failed the bar exam twice. He passed on his 3rd attempt.
12. Charlie Christ, a former Attorney General and former Governor of Florida. Governor Christ, who graduated from the Cumberland School of Law, failed the bar exam twice. He passed on his 3rd attempt.
13. Anthony Scaramucci, former White House Director of Communications. Director Scaramucci, a graduate of Harvard Law School, failed the bar exam on his first attempt. He passed on his 2nd attempt.
The bar exam is not an intelligence test - it is A SKILLS TEST
The names above are just a small sampling of successful people who failed the bar exam at first, but did not give up, and did not give in. They are perfect examples of the fact that anyone can fail a bar exam, because the bar exam is not an intelligence test or a test of one’s expertise in the law. If it were, all bar candidates would pass.
Rather, the bar exam is a test of analysis and writing skills that every bar candidate must demonstrate in a time-driven environment over multiple grueling days. It is for this reason that preparation is more than just memorizing and regurgitating legal rules.
While it is true that memorization is an essential skill necessary to pass the bar exam, it is also true that all bar candidates generally master this skill. Thus, this skill is one that rarely separates those who pass from those who do not.
To achieve success on any bar exam, a second skill is also essential. That skill is the ability to apply the law to facts in a time-driven setting, on both multiple-choice and written exams. It is this second skill that dictates whether a bar candidate achieves success. Thus, effective bar exam preparation demands active test-taking practice under timed conditions, rather than just memorizing rules of law.
The list of famous people illustrated above demonstrates that being able to respond positively in the face of adversity is the true measure of success. It is easy to give in to failure, to become discouraged, to lose the “mojo” to pick one’s self up and do it again with the same vigor as before. Nonetheless, for those who understand academics, and life in general for that matter, failure is the true path to success.
Learn from mistakes - correct - pass
We rarely learn much from success. Many times, we stumble into success without really knowing why. However, failure gives an insight into what went wrong and what we need to do to correct it. Correcting is the measure of character and the cornerstone of success. Those who learn this valuable lesson go on to succeed, and so will you.
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