By Jacqueline Leung • April 04, 2017•Writers in Residence, Issues, Balancing Private and Professional Life
I submitted my bar exam application at the end of March. Since I had completed the July 2016 bar exam application for practice, and obtained my fingerprints then, it was a matter of retyping my application with updated information and gathering my paperwork together. I felt stressed when I completed the application, as evident when I kept reviewing the application for mistakes. I checked the mailing address of my personal references several times and corrected mistakes. I recall when I first completed the bar application it took me several hours over the course of several weeks as I had to obtain the correct information. This time, it took me several hours over several days, but I did finish it. The bar examiners move quickly with the application process. Within a week, my work references received their character reference letters and I received my receipt of payment for the bar application.
I started reviewing the “Critical Pass” series preparation. Since I did not have a preference on subject matter, I started with the yellow cards – contracts. When I began reviewing, some of the information seemed familiar while others were entirely foreign to me. After reviewing the contract cards several times, I put it away. Sadly, I have not touched it then. Partially because of sheer exhaustion and getting sick for a few days, but also because I felt intimated. I am going to be in for the ride of my life. The bar exam will NOT be the most difficult experience in my life, yet will be challenging to prepare for.
Rather than panic, I immediately reached out to a dear friend who passed the bar last year with a two-year-old while working full-time. She reminded me her journey to bar preparation. She spent most of her time reviewing the “Critical Pass” cards and working on MBE questions. After each MBE question, she would grade herself, and review the answer whether she got the answer correct. While she did not work on the writing portion including the essays, she did take a few full-length exams to have a feel for the bar exam. After speaking with her, I felt calmer. I know I will need to continue reaching out to womyn such as her for support and advice. I know a few other womyn who took the bar with children, and I plan to continue cultivating my relationships with them as I continue to prepare for the bar.
In the meantime, I am also struggling with finding work. I applied for several jobs, with no luck so far. There are several remote working from home positions that I am considering. I am also considering Americorps and other programs if it helps provide some funds for repayment. My partner and I are still trying to figure out how we will pay rent going forward. We signed a new lease – same place, no new changes other than changing the outside sidings and a weird spray-on paint job, and an additional hundred dollars for the year lease.
My children are thriving and doing well. My second grader received another grant to continue working with anti-hunger initiatives and is excited about the upcoming science fair at her school. We spent the last two weeks preparing and working on her science project. In addition to researching, purchasing supplies, and conducting the experiment, I also helped her put the poster board together. We finished it yesterday evening, giving us a few days to relax after working on the project for so long. My toddler is slowly losing his toddler face as he reaches the next stage: 3 years old. We are looking at pre-schools for him, as he is showing signs of wanting to learn more and attend school especially when he says good-bye to his older sister when she leaves for school. My youngest turned 3 months recently. She is finding her voice, smiling so much for attention, and spinning. She is also trying to turn to her side, and wants to flip on her stomach. Her arm keeps getting in the way. At this rate, I expect her to be flipping over by the time she is 4 months.
While bar exam preparation and securing a job has been stressful, I find peace with my children and partner. There are times it is hard, yet I would not change a thing. I am content, and while we are struggling, I have faith in knowing that I am with my family. For the bar exam and job search, I remember one thing and one thing alone: Do it for them.