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Released on Apr 1, 2024
Monday Morning Message 4.1.24 The Secret to Getting Ahead

“The secret to getting ahead is getting started.”  - Mark Twain

This is a message to our students who will graduate in less than 60 days. The Ohio Bar Exam is not until July 2024, so it may be surprising to some that this morning’s message is about preparing for that exam. But the 2-day exam is probably the most difficult test you’ll ever take, the stakes are high, and there isn’t much time between graduation in May and the bar exam in July.

It’s not too early to prepare. Studying for the bar exam is a marathon, not a sprint. There are no shortcuts.

However, rather than give my advice, I prefer to pass on some wisdom from one of our most recent graduates who passed the exam. So we asked Katey Hach ’23 for her perspective as a recent successful bar taker. 

Hello Bar Preppers!

For those who don't know me, my name is Katey Hach and I just graduated from our fine law school last year….. I'm here to send along my words of support as you enter what I thought to be the most exciting, and most terrifying, part of your law school career: getting deep into bar prep.  Having just taken (and passed, thank heavens) the bar exam in July 2023, I'd also like to impose some wisdom upon you that I gained with the benefit of hindsight.

Four months out from game time last year, I was starting to feel a little bit nervous. Okay, that's the understatement of the year. I was thinking about it pretty much my every waking moment, be it during my last semester's final exams, while I was walking the stage at graduation, or even while I was brushing my teeth. It was my metaphorical sword of Damocles. If you feel anything like how I felt, I'm here to tell you that being nervous is totally normal. Hot take, I know, but the bar is a big deal. Anyone who tells you they aren't at least a little nervous is lying to you. (Or impressively zen.) 

As I started bar prep, I found that the only way that I could look past the nerves was to prepare, both state of mind wise and substance wise. Right now, it's like you're at the bottom of Mt. Everest. You're looking up at it and you've got the skills from the last three (or four!) years of law school. Now, you just need to load your pack (aka, learn the law ~ the BARBRI way ~ ) and focus your mind on reaching the summit.

Substance wise, I recommend you get on your BARBRI Personal Study Plan (PSP) as much as you can, as early as you can without disturbing your last semester of law school. Seriously. The benefits of getting an early start are immeasurable, as you can identify your strengths and weaknesses early and set the tone for the months ahead. Make use of Academic Support and the Bar Mentors they supply you. 

State of mind wise, I recommend you get used to - and even embrace - being wrong, as being wrong in bar prep is the only way you'll be able to be right on test day. During BEST (Bar Exam Strategies and Tactics, the 3rd year bar preparation class taught by Bar Preparation Director Jenna Hosier), putting it gently, my essays and multiple-choice numbers were not great.

My first instinct was to be frustrated by this. If you know me, you know I'm a very confident person - sometimes to a fault. I thought to myself, "These graders are going to come in and tell me how to IRAC? No way." Yes way. I implore you to explore the notion of markups not as criticism, but as a step in the right direction. Remind yourself that, heading into the bar exam, it doesn't really matter what kind of a law student you are right now since it's a whole different beast. The sooner you learn how to successfully play the bar exam's games, the sooner you'll know the joy of never having to take another test ever again.

Further, do what you can to make this time of your law school life as fun as you can. Try to find a nice balance with your law school friends, while not getting distracted from your prep. I recommend making memes about the BARBRI presenters with your friends. (Hint: penne alle vodka will likely become a triggering phrase for you.) Like the rest of law school, shared misery during bar prep strengthens bonds.

Finally, I encourage you to do anything you can as soon as possible to shift your nerves from fear to anticipation. Schedule that post-bar time off. Make your to-be-read/to-be-watched list. Write your name with Esq. after it like a middle schooler would do with their crush's last name. This isn't going to be a fun few months, but I know you can do this!

You've got the class of 2023 behind you. I'm sure you're already killing the game, so keep up the good work. If I can do anything to help any of you on your journey, please reach out. I'd be happy to chat or grab a cup of coffee with you to talk bar exam, post grad life, etc. 

Katey        

Have a great day. Have a great week.

My best,

Lee

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