By Sarah Valdes • May 30, 2020•Ms. JD, Writers in Residence
There is no denying that those of you taking the bar exam this summer or fall are under an incredible amount of stress. You are tackling a significant milestone in your legal career, and you are doing it against the backdrop of truly unprecedented times. This is tough. But so are you.
Below are some of my tips on keeping yourself connected and sane during bar prep. Everything I suggest may not work for everyone, but I do think they are worth considering.
Celebrate. Before you start putting oversized post-its covered in bar prep notes all over your bedroom wall (Yes, I did this. Yes, it did look like a scene from A Beautiful Mind. Yes, it actually did work so you are not alone if you are trying this.), take a moment to reflect on how far you have already come. I know that graduation ceremonies and celebratory gatherings did not look like you anticipated. However, remember no one and nothing has taken away the amazing accomplishment you have just earned. And it is perfectly ok to take some time to fully reflect and relish on what you have done.
Remember your law school community. Do not be shy about utilizing whatever resources your school has to offer. Consider participating in any study groups, classes, or mentorship programs that the school has to offer.
Find your study tribe. I was blessed to have a dear friend in law school who shared similar interests. We had similar (but not identical) study styles. I found it helpful to have someone that I could discuss concepts with and who made some of the rote memorization necessary in law school a little more interesting. I often found that I could tie concepts to where we studied, the jokes we cracked, or even the coffee we were drinking. You can “meet” with your study group virtually and still adhere to physical distancing guidelines. Study safe and study smart.
Call your mom. Or college roommate or neighbor with the screaming toddler. Stay connected with both the people who supported you throughout law school, and people who are not taking the bar exam. It’s important to stay grounded. While you may be rambling about the rule against perpetuities with your study buddies, a quick chat outside of your study group about what to get Grandpa Ed for Father’s Day can bring you some needed perspective and relief.
Set your boundaries. While I wholeheartedly support having a study group if that works for you, it’s important to set your boundaries in terms of you spend your time with. It’s ok to cut a virtual study session short for some alone time. Don’t forget to schedule some time for self-care. This is a time to work very hard, but that does not mean you shouldn’t be kind to yourself. I challenge you to consider this experience as practice for how you will approach your career. Surround yourself with a positive network. Stay grounded. Take care of your body and your mind. You got this!