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The Bar and Failing Up

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The first question should be, why would a woman in her mid-40s even want to go to law school? I’m still not clear on that one. Next, why would a woman turning fifty even want to be a lawyer? I didn’t really want to be a lawyer; I just wanted the choice of whether to be a lawyer. I didn’t like some collection of Bar Exam Mavens to limit my potential. Turns out, they limited it alright, they limited it five times. I didn’t go back for a sixth time.
The California Bar Exam is worse than its rep. The first time I took it, the new Dean of Stanford Law School who was a constitutional scholar from D.C. also sat for it. I failed. She failed. The dumbest guy in my class passed. I’m talking about the guy who rarely showed up, offered way too little money for my notes, who brutalized the English language every time he opened his mouth despite a degree in English...from my alma mater. If you need someone to bail you out for DUI in SoCal, he’s the go-to guy. Remember Jimmy the Grunt from The Practice? That’s him.
Me, I’m a writer who makes an embarrassingly low income despite working like a peasant. But my earlier career of writing TV news was not good enough for me, oh no, I had to stretch my learning muscles. I was tired of writing 30 seconds of pap to accompany forty seconds of pointless tape. I was tired of getting fired, something that happened exactly the same number of times as getting hired.
Getting fired in local TV news is no fun but it is no badge of shame, either. It happens to the best and the worst. It happened to me four different times at the same station over the years. Good thing Los Angeles has a lot of TV stations. You just sort of make the rounds and then start over. They welcome you like you are the finest writer ever to grace their computers and, bingo; a year later you are garbage.
The final time I was canned, no one told me because prooducers are essentially cowards. How did I figure it out? Well, one day I came to work and the usual schedule for the next week was not waiting on my desk. However, it was waiting on the desks of all the other writers. Well, duh. Welcome to the wonderful world of being a per diem writer. My husband has endured far worse, but that’s for another day.
What does this have to do with law school? When I didn’t get a schedule and I asked my producer what gives, he shrugged like the world’s biggest dope. So I looked up the home phone numbers of the executive producers. I think I taught them to never, ever pick up their phone on a Sunday afternoon. I told them precisely what I thought about them because I no longer had anything to lose. i wanted to sue them into oblivion. Sue them? Yeah, law school waits.
So I dug in for four years of night school, summers included, read and briefed every single case to ever have been adjudicated in England and the U.S. Turns out, I was wasting my time, learning all the things that were not important and getting a headache, neck ache and eye strain.
Instead, I should have been skipping class, leaving at break when I did show up, never crack my books, never be prepared, talk quietly on the phone during class, and played Solitaire instead of taking notes. And I should have been texting my friends for answers during the tests. Then, I might have passed the Bar just like so many of my classmates.
Two and half years after graduating law school, after sitting for ninety-eight hours of exam questions, three days at a time, after waiting a total of twenty wasted months for the Bar results, I stopped the madness.
I returned to journalism and have been one happy clam ever since. I just stay away from television news. I intend to spend the rest of my life tapping away at the keyboard, making fun of lawyers, and hating the entire legal system. Makes me feel better.


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