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I didn’t pass the Bar Exam! It’s ok. You’re in elite company.

by Dustin on

So you logged on Friday night, hoping to see your name on the bar exam pass list, but instead your name was ‘not found.’  Believe it or not, you’re not the only one.  Not even close.  Every year many talented, smart, hard working graduates fail the bar exam.  Even people in the top of their class fail on a consistent basis.  We know it’s not where you want to be, and we know it can hurt.

But do know that it’s ok.  People aren’t going to think you’re not capable or good enough.  What’s important is how you respond after.  After all, it’s not falling in the mud that matters, but how we pick ourselves back up that is the true measure of who we are.

The great Thomas Edison was asked how he succeeded in inventing the light bulb.  He replied that his success came after over 1,000 failures.  So, lucky you, you have a lot more failures to go before you can be even close to a failure like Thomas Edison!

So don’t take it personally.  People still love you.

Let’s take a look at some of the very elite company you now join:

Who else didn’t pass the bar exam?

The following is a list of others who also did not pass the bar exam:

  • Jerry Brown – newly elected Governor of California
  • Hillary Clinton – New York Senator and current Secretary of State
  • John F. Kennedy Jr. – Son of USA President JFK
  • Kathleen Sullivan – Former Dean of Stanford Law School
  • Pete Wilson – former California Governor (failed 3 times)
  • Antonio R. Villaraigosa – Mayor of Los Angeles (failed 4 times, still hasn’t passed)

For all you California bar exam takers, approximately one half of your July bar exam colleagues and approximately 70% of February bar exam colleagues also didn’t pass.

So good news for you, you’re not the only one!  Even better news, you can still be very successful and happy in life even though you didn’t pass.  And for all you wishing to run for public office, congratulations!  It seems you have just accomplished the first step!

How can I do better next time?

Now, it’s time to focus on what you can do to pass next time.  Look back at your mindset and what you did the last few months.  Honestly ask yourself what you didn’t do that you know you should have done.  Write down ten things that you’ll promise yourself you’re going to do next time.  Here’s an example:

I, ___(name here)______ , will do the following when preparing for my bar exam:

  1. Not engage in negative talk with other people
  2. Complete all my homework assignments on time
  3. Believe in myself
  4. Surround myself with positive, supportive, encouraging people who bring me up
  5. Improve my writing by reviewing exam answers
  6. Subscribe to my email list for helpful tips on passing the bar exam

Email me if you want, and we’ll send you a prettier version of this sheet you can fill out, print, and put on your wall:

Give yourself time to heal.  Time heals all wounds.  More importantly, don’t make the same mistakes twice.  If you want some more stories to relate to, check out this guy’s blog who failed four times:

For a great resource built for bar exam repeaters, check out the California Bar Exam Repeaters Resources.

And please keep us, in mind the next few months.  My goal is for you to pass, and I will be there to help you reach it.

I wish you success in passing your bar exam!

“This name appears on the pass list”

“Like the eye of a hurricane, he stayed calm and ready while all else around him was in disarray”

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 ariesofwar November 23, 2010 at 4:06 am

I feel like looking up the Mayor of LA’s speeches to see if he joked about not passing while he was campaigning :)


2 Dustin August 9, 2012 at 10:13 am

That would be interesting to know!


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