dreams of becoming an attorney

I want to talk about dreams.

The world is changing and so must we. We can’t stay the same and can’t pretend everything else will stay the same.

Changing means not staying complacent.

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”—Charles Darwin paraphrased

Do our dreams have to change? Your dream of becoming an attorney doesn’t have to change… BUT how you get there might have to.

First of all, what are your dreams and motivations to pass the bar exam?

  • “I want to pass the bar because I have to pass the bar. Never having to do this again.” Fair enough—you should try to get this last hurdle over with ASAP (Make This Your Last Time, if you will) and move on to your free life.
  • “I want to serve my community and impact people’s lives.” Saccharinely idealistic and would probably make the admissions people roll their eyes but will admit you as long as your LSAT score is good enough. (But law school applicants are evolving… don’t let them show you up!)
  • “I want my friends to think I’m cooler than I am by making being an attorney my entire personality and posting incessantly about it (and mY pAraLeGaL) on social media. I am very cool.” Why do you think I have a second job I actually enjoy: running MTYLT and making a direct impact on people’s lives.
  • “I want to (let’s be real) make a lot of money and pay off my student loans.” Doable if you’re on the right side of the bimodal curve #biglaworbust! Wait, you could have avoided the loans by not going to law school in the first place. Squid Game anyone?
  • “I want prestige and make people at least pause a bit before swiping left on me on dating apps.” Some will think twice before swiping right because you’re an attorney. A tortured existence lies ahead of you.

These are all valid despite what anyone says. Bar preparation is personal. Your motivations are personal. What’s yours?

Your most urgent drive right now may be to be seen as worthy by the examiners. Your self-esteem on the line…determined by cold and cruel numbers that say whether you pass or not.

I thought I was doing it right my first time taking the bar. Kaplan wouldn’t let me down, right? WRONG

There’s nothing more DRAINING than trying to stay focused during droning lectures.

There’s nothing more unsettling and frustrating than “knowing” something but not knowing how to USE it.

I was humbled by the bar exam in 2013 and decided to figure out this bar thing.

You know what? My second time studying was much more relaxing, much more productive, and much more (dare I say it) fun.

I fulfilled my dream. I checked results at my part-time job and strolled into my boss’s office with a thumb up. He showed more emotions than me and threw a pizza party.

I was able to experience the joy of being a freshly minted attorney, with new adventures ahead, without any idea of even greater challenges ahead (but who cares about that right now…one dream at a time).

I want you to experience the same thing. Just promise to celebrate with me when you do… to look forward to screaming excited words at me that you passed the bar exam.

If you didn’t pass the July exam, your dreams of the world acknowledging your genius and being paid for it currently lie shattered at your feet. 

But you actually have an advantage over first-time takers because you survived to tell the tale. I don’t believe repeaters are doomed to fail.

That said, where do you go from here to clean up the mess?

Like I said, your dream doesn’t have to change, but HOW you get there might have to. What didn’t work for you before isn’t going to work now. It’s time to change the variables.

Here’s your exercise for today:

1. What was your approach last time? Think about what you did every day. Was it a structured plan? Were you clear on what to do on any given day? What kind of resources did you use? How did you feel every day? Were you on pace, or did you fall behind? Where were your weak subjects and portion of the exam (refer to your score report, if any)? Did you completely forget about the performance test?

And also, why are you doing this? There’s actually no one forcing you to take the bar exam.

2. Were you learning or “studying”? Did you feel your brain squeeze from testing yourself? Or were you simply absorbing things passively and pushing off the real work to your future self, and it caught up to you? Be honest.

It’s not putting in the time itself that makes you better. Improvement comes from constant feedback and learning every time you try to solve a difficult problem.

3. WHAT CAN YOU CHANGE? Don’t ask ME to figure this out for you. Here’s what separates passers from everyone else. Think about it on your own first.

If you want, you can write all this down and send it to me to keep yourself accountable.

“To my mind, science, properly pursued, only deepens the mystery. It doesn’t take the mystery away. It shows you how mystery exists profoundly at every level.”—Dennis McKenna

In other words, the more you learn, the more mysterious it gets. That’s a sign you’re heading in the right direction. Complacency is a sign you’re a turkey being fattened up to be devoured by the bar examiners. Changing means not staying complacent.

Here are some specific ways to become the dean of your own studies (including 4 common mindsets that hold you back from changing your approach to bar prep).

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