5 Ways to Improve Bar Exam Essay Scores Podcast with BarIssues.com (Episode 020)

Today we bring on another special guest to help you out with your essays, this is Nadine from barissues.com who is going to come on and tell you five ways to pass and five things you can do to improve your essay score. Also at the end of the program she is going to tell you lot about here awesome, awesome cool program they have called Bar Issues and how it can help you out on your bar exam so be sure to stay tuned at the end there to hear about that and also how you can get a discount on your copy of bar issues.

You will hear more about it on the show but just briefly if you want to know what mostly like to be tested on your bar exam and also if you want to take practice exams that test specific issues, so let us say you have specific issues you want to practice like common law first amendment or contract UCC questions, then you definitely want to listen up at the end to hear what Bar Issues is about because they created a great service to help you practice those and to be better prepared. So without further ado let us go into the interview with Nadine from barissues.com.

Hi, hello and we are here with Nadine from barissues.com that is going to come on today and tell us the five ways to improve your essay scores this bar exam season.

Dustin: Hi Nadine how are you?

Nadine: Hey Dustin I am great thanks for having me.

Dustin: Thanks for coming on great to have you here today

Nadine: Yeah

Dustin: So tell the listeners kind of your story about when you took the bar and kind of how you struggled through and how you made it through and just generally speaking some of your background on that.

Nadine: Okay sure. Well you know there is just so much to study on the bar exam as we all know, particularly the California bar being three days long and I think one of the biggest challenges I found was just the whole overwhelming aspect of it all and what really, really helped me was one of the things I am going to talk about which is planning in advance and  kind of visualizing what I am going to be doing and really, really getting….I probably spent inordinate amount of time on the planning, but it really, really did help a lot. So that was something I think that really helped me and being able to use the tools that Angela and I developed, bar issues helped a lot too as far as knowing what issue were important, and just staying focused in general I think is really important.

Dustin: Right. When you say overwhelm what were you overwhelmed by, I mean I can make a guess but just specific idea.

Nadine: Well I think the fact that there is 15 subjects and we kind of count them as fifteen, we still separate some of the subject although they have kind of been combined now, I am thinking of corporations and partnership and that, but basically we looked at it as 15 subjects and yeah I mean it is overwhelming especially knowing that when it comes to the essays you are not going to be necessarily tested and all 15 subjects and it is just the rules of law, the number of rules of law, the amount of material is what I found really overwhelming.

Dustin: Right and how do you kind of I guess deal with that, because there were other students out there they are probably dealing with the same thing, how did you guys…..?

Nadine: Well, what we did was, we kind of came up with an action plan here and we really like I said, we spend a lot of time on the planning in advance just so that we knew….I was really afraid of running out of time to get everything, to study everything to make sure that I covered up all the subjects so by planning in advance and that is one of our first tips. Get out your calendar, plan it in advance, figure out exactly what subject you are going to study, when , how many practice essays you are going to do and which days. It really, really helps to put things into perspective and just knowing that you really do have enough time on the calendar to cover it all is a big help already.

Dustin: Okay that is interesting. How did you guys plan that out, like how far in advance did you plan out and also did you guys kind of stick to that schedule or did you modify it as you went through?

Nadine: We did modify it. Angela and I both actually took the bar exam at different times, she took the February one, I took the July one, but yeah we did pretty well stick to it, but we did re-planed and re scheduled, we used spread sheet to actually know what, how many essays we had plan to practice and how many we actually did practice, same for the MBE’s, how many we planned to do and how many we did and same for the performance test. So we really, really worked on making sure that we had enough time to get it all done.

Dustin: I am curious. When you guys talked about planning in advance as your first tip, how many did you guys planned for essays, MBE’s, performance test and then how many did you guys ended up doing?

Nadine: Well we both actually honor…on our website we have an essay tracker where I wanted to list all of the essays since 2001 on a chart and I listed them by subject and with a brief little blurb on what the essay was about and my goal was to actually cover off every single essay starting with 2001. I did not practice writing out every essay, but I can say and Angela too that we either wrote, practiced or at least issues spotted every essay which we think gave us a good foundation going in.

Dustin: That is a great tip because I think a lot of students missed that point about the importance of doing essay, so the fact that you hit every essay I think that is great.

Nadine: Yeah, yeah, and the nice thing about having a chart like that is to just be able to check them off as you do them it kind of you know it is kind of boring having to study all the time, but you can kind of make a game out of it by oh gee, today I got three done I am going to check these off and it just makes you kind of feel like you are getting somewhere with everything.

Dustin: Cool awesome. So that would be your first tip, planning in advance. Some student email me like 6 month out like should they start studying now or should they start studying 2 months ahead like when should they…..?

Nadine: We kind of looked at it as a 3 to 4 months period. I would recommend at least 3 months personally, maybe 4 if you can do it. Maybe some people think that is too long but most bar prep courses I would think are also in the 2 to 3 month range.

Dustin: Okay cool. What would be your second tip?

Nadine: Our second tip is endurance. You really have to give yourself total commitment to just staying on track and if you are studying for the February bar exam coming up that means you are going to have to come to terms with the fact that you are going to be a party pooper throughout the entire holiday season and if you are studying for the July bar exam like I did then, you are going to have to realize that there is a lot of summer activities that …maybe you have a young kids or whatever family that are out of school you are not going to be able to necessarily partake. So if you kind of set yourself up for that in advance and know how to deal with the fact when your friends or family might tempt you with offers of going out. Be prepared on how you are going to deal with that and it will just make things so much easier.

Dustin:  What is a good way to be prepared, like how did you kind of handle that one distraction to another?

Nadine: Well, one thing is and Angela and I talked about this a lot, one thing that Angela did because she was during that Christmas time studying, she told everyone in advance look, I am only going to two functions this holiday season, I am going to my law firm’s Christmas party and one family party and that is it. So she knew that those were the two that she had planned to attend and any other offers no matter how tempting, no matter how people, no matter how people saying, oh come on, just for a little while or just stay for dinner, she was firm and said nope sorry, I am committed to this and that was her and it worked for her.

Dustin: That is awesome. You guys are planner, planner aheader …

Nadine: Yes, yes, yes (chuckling)

Dustin: You guys have this plan…let us say you woke up one morning, you have like this plan to do something and then you just like did not feel like studying or you could not study, how did you deal with that? Did you just or take a break what did you do?

Nadine: No I think it is important to if you really wake up feeling like that to take a break and yea I admit there were times when did not follow my plan exactly and you cannot beat yourself up about that, you just have to realize that sometimes you do need a mental break, a physically it is very demanding as well. So along as you kind of look forward and readjust, okay so I did not get this done today, let me put on for my tomorrow plan and let me squeeze in an extra hour to do that so, I think that is perfectly fine.

Dustin: Okay cool. Anything else for enduring or making sure your endurance make it through?

 Nadine: No I think you know of course the obvious thing is being physically fit to see it through taking care of yourself, nutrition, exercise and make sure you get enough sleep that kind of stuff is important in order to have your mind be able to be mentally fit as well so I would just add that.

Dustin: Okay awesome. Thank you for sharing that one and what is your third tip?

Nadine: Well the third tip I can offer you is all about timing and when you think about the essays on the California bar exam they make up 39% of your score so you really need to make sure you do well on the essays in order to pass the bar and what I recommend is really get used to timing yourself in advance if you are doing these 1 hour essays try out the software if using your laptop, the software called exam soft and figure out in advance how to set your timing intervals because the last thing you want to do is run out of time of course on the essays.

Dustin: That is such a huge tip because some people though spend a couple more minutes even going 5 to 10 minutes more on one essay can be detrimental is that right?

Nadine: Exactly, exactly. So what I recommend and I found this really work good for me is, think of it as two time intervals, first set your timer for 15 minutes which is the amount of time which you are going to give yourself to reading the question, making your notes as you go through, maybe circling dates names, whatever your method is briefly outline on your scrap paper, you may even need a diagram subjects like wills, trust, properties when there is so many parents, children, stepchildren all that keeping the name straight can be a challenge so, take that first 10 to 15 minutes and do all that , then set your timer for the second interval of 45 minutes where you are actually going to write out the essay and you have got to watch the clock constantly and like you said you just do not even want to spend more than 5 minutes on any given essay.

Dustin: When you were practicing, did you do like 3 hour block or did you do for an hour 1 hour?

Nadine: Yes. In the beginning I first just did 1 hour essays, but you do need to just simulate a bar exam experience in advance by challenging yourself to sit down and do three in a row because it is quite demanding, so you really do need to do that definitely.

Dustin: Yea, when I was practicing I did, I typically did only 1 hour sessions, but when I got on the bar it is a little bit of a different dynamic when you have three back to back, not only…..

Nadine: Exactly

Dustin: ……stamina wise but also timing because it is so easy to spend that extra 5 to 10 minutes, even for the most discipline of us, but you really got to cut yourself off after the hour.

Nadine: True, true I have talked to so many students who said yea I spent 10 minutes extra on the first one and then I ran out of time on the third one and oh yea it can be a nightmare.

Dustin: You really need the hour and if you do not have the whole thing you are going to miss writing something.

Nadine: Because you never know what the next question is going to be, do not think oh gee, this question is such a race horse and I have really got to take that extra 10 minutes to like get it right. The next question could be more of a challenge you just do not know so stick to 1 hour, just watch the clock constantly and use the timer feature in examsoft if you are using your laptop, because it really, really works really good.

Dustin: Okay, awesome. What is tip number 4?

Nadine: Tip number 4 kind of goes back to the initial planning and it is to come up with a systematic approach and what I mean by that is, look for the tools that are going to make your process as easy as possible and for example let us say you are doing a contract’s question, what I was able to do by using bar issues is I was able to just click on the contracts box and in the software and it gives me a listing of all the exams that are published by the state bar and then I would just select the exam that I am going to work on print off the first page for the question and then start working on that particular essay and this way I was even able to just quickly issue spot the essay if I only wanted to do that and test on, hey did I actually get all the issues in this essay? I could just click on the essay name in bar issues and up would come a neat little pop up giving me a list of just the issues so that I could quickly go through and see oh gee you know I miss that or yea I got them all. So just figure out a really good systematic approach.

Dustin: That is awesome! I looked briefly at Barissues idea and we will talk a little bit more on it as well. That is so helpful because knowing which issues are going to appear, I think it just really helps a lot, so you are not studying everything else out there, but you kind of can ….not only just which topic show up the most which bar issues provides, but also which specific issues within the topic.

Nadine: Right, right and you will find certain patterns too, you will find that there are certain issues and sub-issues that just always get always get tested together so that if you are finding that you spotted one issue if you know hey, this is often tested with something else it would much easier to look for that in advance.

Dustin: Also then of course people can save time because they are focusing on the stuff that actually get tested not everything in that book or everything under the sun.

Nadine: Right exactly.

Dustin: Very good. And what is tip number 5?

Nadine: The final tip is something that I think a lot of students often neglect and it is learning to spot cross overs a cross over is an essay that covers more than one subject and this is really becoming more common on the bar exam, actually our stats show us that the average number of cross overs essays questions on the California bar exam, starting from 2001 to 2014 was 1.7 so you are likely to have at least one cross over on the bar exam maybe even two and again using bar issues it is really easy to spot them and to figure out some of the patterns that cross overs often take.

Dustin: What are some specific keys to spotting a cross over because sometimes…I remember take I do not know if it was the practice exam or actually bar like I was reading something and something was like, it was on professional responsibility but I felt it read to something else but I could not quite pinpoint it so, how do you figure that out?

Nadine: Well, the key to figuring that out is to really look in advance to see which historically, which types of subject have been tested often as cross overs, for example remedies is always going usually be with contracts, or torts, community property is often going to be together with wills, you mentioned professional responsibility, that is often tested with another subject often it is corporations and this is so easily apparent when you do look at our website and you just run down the list of every subject and see, oh yeah you know criminal law of course with criminal procedure and evidence, look for those three together. So when you are looking at the call of the question and know that one of these subjects is definitely in the call, look for the other possible cross over as well.

Dustin: Ok awesome. Good those were awesome tips. Speaking of bar issues tell us a little bit more about the program, kind of who it is for, what are the offers and things like that?

Nadine: Okay, okay. Well you know it is…like I said in the beginning there are so many legal issues that are tested on the California bar exam and it is often overwhelming you know it just feel like you cannot possibly learn them all. Angela and I actually counted based on our you know some of our out loan books that we came up with, it was about 3000 rules of law that span the 15 subjects tested on the exam. So we knew that we could not possibly memorize everything perfectly, so by using bar issues you are able to actually really drill down to what is most important and as we like to say focus on what counts and make sure that you know the top 20 to 30 issues within each subject cold, because most likely you will be tested on those. Not to say that you should not know all the rest but you definitely want to make sure that you focus on what is really, really key.

Dustin: That is awesome. So what I briefly looked at bar issues, so it shows not only like what main topics come up and how often like I think was the evidence I think was one of the most tested essay subject?

Nadine: Yeah, yeah exactly. You can find out from bar issues which..not only which subjects are tested most frequently and like you said evidence is one that seems to be at the top all the time lately, but also which issues and sub issues are tested most frequently, so you often have a gut feeling or you may hear your professor say to you, oh this issue is frequently tested on the bar exam. Well, you know gut feelings are not always are what we want to go by, so let us really look at the stats and look at the data and that is what we have done. We have gone back and analyzed all of the essays, like I have said we read through all of them, read through all the students answers A and B and methodically categorized all of the issues and sub issues and you can rank them so you can look at any given subject and rank then in order of frequency to see which is tested the most, and then you can easily hone in on a weakness that you may have. Let us say you are really struggling with a particular area in contracts, you can actually click on a given issue and it will give you all of the essay that have had all that issue tested and then you and practice more easily.

Dustin: Yea and I love how easy the interfaces you guys made it. It is very easy just to go in there and search and then you actually pop up the essay right then and there. Tell me which essay it is and you pop it up right then and I have to like go back and click (cross talk) …

Nadine: I remember when before we even started studying for the bar exam, we did frequently go on the state bar website to view some of the practice, to view some of the essays and it was so hard to just sieve through, pages and pages, like some of those files are almost a 100 pages long and if wanting to zero in on a specific essay or a specific category  it is really hard so yea, you are right we make it really, really easy to just find what you are looking for within just one click.

Dustin: And every little thing of technology helps when you are overwhelmed by the bar exam.

Nadine: Exactly, exactly this can really make life much easier for the essay portion, definitely.

Dustin: Very good. Also the listener too because you are giving a discount code for my people, is that right?

Nadine: That is correct, that is correct.

Dustin: So at the end of the call I can get that as well. That is great so great tips. Thank you so much for coming on.

Nadine: Well, thank you for having me and hopefully everyone can check us out and we wish everyone the best of luck.

Dustin: Thanks Nadine and tell Angela your co founder we say hi and we will talk to you later.

Nadine: Ok great thanks Dustin.

Dustin: Thank you, take care.

Nadine: Bye

That was Nadine from barissues.com giving you her 5 tips. I checked out bar issues they look like a great program, there are three people are three reasons why you may want to get your hands on a copy of Barissues, for one you want to see what is most likely tested. What is really great is that you can go through their list of essays that they have, they have lot of issues, basically you do a couple of clicks and you see within each category whether it is contracts, common law, torts or whatever, you can see which issue is tested the most and when they came out specifically.

For example when you go to contracts, you can look under contracts and look at the most tested issues, I will tell you that the second most highly tested issue for contracts since 2001 is the statute of frauds. It has shown up 10 times on 10 exams since 2001 for common law for example standing and strict scrutiny they are also the most tested, they have shown up 9 times since 2001. So they have this for every single topic and every single issue that shown up in California in and you know they may extend to other state at some point, but right now I think California that have shown up, you can get that  for every single issue.

So you know what to kind of prepare for, where to focus your energy most, and what is also great it tells you the specific essay that it showed up on and you just click and that is it, it pops up right there. If you want to practice specific issue in those areas, you can just go in click and it shows up, and you can do that for any kind of issue that has ever shown up. Maybe it is the common law first amendment you want to practice or contracts UCC questions, so that is the second reason why you may be interested in this program because of the very specific issues that you can search and if you want to practice it you can go in there find where that showed up rather than trying to dig through year and years of exams where showed up and when.

You just go to their search database very quickly; just a couple of click and it will tell you where those specific issues showed up so you can go ahead and practice them. The third one is you want to take, if you want to practice your issue spotting, you can go through and search the years of these essays and you just click on the essays and it pops up all the issues that showed up on that specific essay, so that is another great way to practice your issue body, so go click, bam there are all the issues that show up so after you take a practice essay or you practice issues body for an essay you click it and you could see what has shown up and what has not.

For those reasons I think it is a great program something very cool to check out and you could save $10 on your subscription to bar issues just head on over to ipassedmybarexam.com/bi and that will pages put your email in and I will email you the coupon code. They do not want the coupon code going viral so you got to email me or just go to ipassedmybarexam.com/bi and I will automatically send you that code so you can use it on your subscription.

Meditation Meets the Bar Exam with Kim Nicol Podcast Episode (022)

Meditation Meets the Bar Exam 

Today we are going to be talking to an individual who is not only a lawyer, but she is also an expert in meditation and she is going to come on today to tell you why you should meditate during the bar exams and how that is going to help you throughout your bar exam. You know meditation is finally coming to mainframe as being at level of science is being a great way to reduce stress, so she is going to kind of describe how to go through meditation, how to use it for your bar exam then stay tuned towards the end because she is actually going to do a short meditation with you on air while we do that so without further ado let us talk to Kim Nicol who is a lawyer and meditation expert.

We are here with Kim Nicol, Hi Kim how are you?

Hi Dustin I am good.

Dustin: You are a meditation practitioner and a lawyer so you kind of have a unique experience of both you know, what lawyers go through in terms of their day to day life and also how to help them through meditation and what not, so if you want to tell a little bit about your story about kind of how you got into this meditation in your story of law school and being a lawyer and handling the stress.

Kim: Yea I love to and you know as your listeners know being a law student is not the easiest thing in the world and being able to have that mental clarity and that focus and being able to not freak out and have a melt down when things get intense. It is a really useful skill to have and so kind of by default when I was in law school and handling the stress and challenge of taking on so many projects, one of the things that really helped me was having a Yoga practice. Having some kind of body movement practice because I notice that when I was either exercising or just like moving my body that tended to help kind of calm me down and make me just feel much, much better and it helped me to handle the stress.

Then when I became a lawyer and I actually learn pretty quickly, I started to observe the lawyers around me and I thought you know I think I could be really good at this job, but I actually think that it would not create in me the kind of personage and characteristics that I want for me and I was really struggling to find role models who looked happy and healthy and like thriving in their life who were also lawyers.

So I pivoted pretty quickly and I when to work in legal publishing for one of the big legal publishing companies here and I continued to do my Yoga practice and someone introduced me to the guy who became my meditation teacher and you know it is kind of funny because I have been very resistant about this idea of meditation, it seem kind of like this hippy thing that people who are not connected to reality used to do and it was not until I found who kind of broke it down for me in a way that made sense and I started to do these little tiny practices like a minute, two minutes, three minutes a day and I started to feel how it changed like my inner state, like my mindset, my energy, my mental clarity and then it was like, oh my gosh this stuff is amazing, it is like unlocking these super powers that I did not even realized I had and what happen for me and my journey is after a couple of years I do it really well in the publishing company and continue to have my own practice that I did just for me.

I had kind of like a reality mortality check when my aunt died of cancer and my little brother was hit by a car and he is okay, but it was just these moments of kind of clarity where you realize life is really short and how is it that I want to be living. That was what made me kind of find the courage and the desire to leave what had been familiar and kind of secure, this corporate study job and move more fully into this place of you know of  really wanting to share meditation and mindfulness practices with other. I really want other people to be able to know how to use this stuff in their own lives and lawyer and law students are really close to my heart because I understand and I have seen my friends, my cohort, my colleagues struggle to be a happy healthy human and a successful attorney at the same time.

Dustin: Awesome a very powerful story. What kind of specific stresses you were dealing with or you saw others deal with that meditation kind of helped you overcome that probably other bar exam students, lawyers, bar students were dealing with as well that helped?

Kim: The biggest things were either feeling overwhelmed like there were not enough hours in the day to do all of the things that have to get done and also especially with law you are always needing to learn new things. You finish law school and it is like I still know nothing (laugh) after 3 years. I have JD and I pass the bar grade and you are like I know nothing. There is so much to learn, there is always so much to learn and with being a lawyer there is a specific kind of anxiety because this idea of failure of getting it wrong of either losing a case or reading the case law wrong or misinterpreting a regulation or statute or drafting a contract in a way that creates more risk than you intended.

Like all of those potential things that can go wrong, all these potential failures they are all extremely public, like everything that you do as a lawyer is highly, highly scrutinized and people who tend to be drawn toward law school and become lawyers have a bit of this like perfectionist tendency and a desire to kind of control things to know exactly what the deal is and then to like work within that frame. So this ideas of public failure creates in the back of your mind this massive anxiety, did I read all the case law, do I have all resources, like did I cover every possible potential problem and so I think that being in that profession tends to bring with it specific kind of anxiety that a lot of other people cannot relate to because it is just a part of the work. You are trying to manage risk, you are in conflict very often and if it goes wrong it is like everybody knows and that is such a lot of pressure and it is a really uncomfortable feeling.

Dustin: Right and I know you help a lot of law students, lawyers and bar exam students and most of the people listening this will be taking the bar and I know there is a ton of stresses that they deal with especially with the overwhelm, the fear of failure and fear of putting in all this months and time in hard work and waiting a few more months and then not getting results that they maybe want, so there is that pressure as well. For someone who is kind of new to meditation and what not, what is it exactly? Can you help clarify and define what that is?

Kim: Yea, so I like to think of meditation like when someone says they meditate it is kind of like saying they exercise. There are a lot of different techniques and there are a lot of ways to do it so when some people say they do meditation they mean they go on a silent retreat for 10 days, for some people when they say meditation they mean oh I sit on the floor in lotus position for 45 minutes and I watch my breath. For me when I am explaining meditation to someone who is really new to it and is curious and they are not sure of what it all means, I basically says it is about bringing  your body into stillness and then just noticing whatever is arising within you.

This can be like as a practice, it might be sitting in a chair at your kitchen table or sitting in a chair like before you open your Barbri or your bar prep study books, before you dive in you take a moment to sort of close your eyes and just feel and notice whatever is going on on the inside of yourself. Your thoughts are going to be something, your emotions are going to be something, your physical sensations, you are going to feel something in your body. Meditation is really just a practice of slowing down to fully experience and notice what it is that is happening in this particular moment.

Dustin: We are going to do a meditation exercise for everyone in a few minutes later on in the interview here. I want to also emphasize the point that there is a lot of science right now finally coming out about how the beneficial effects of meditation in terms of reducing stress, providing clarity of thinking, reducing the overwhelm something that a lot of law students, lawyers and bar exam students will face.

We were talking earlier you said it is a good habit to develop a form of way to combat the stress because we are dealt with it as law students we all dealt with it as bar exam students and like you said it never goes away as a lawyer at the same time right?

Kim: Yea I mean once you get to law school and you celebrate for 5 minutes and then you are stressing about the bar exam. Then you study for the bar exam and you celebrate you know you finish that and then you wait and then you stress about whether you get your results whether you pass or not. Even if you pass you pass you celebrate for like 5 minutes and then all of a sudden you are like stressed again, because as you know like finding a job and you get a job and then you celebrate and then the job is stressful.

It is kind of like being stressed and having these different stressful situations becomes a part of how life goes especially for lawyer and so developing different strategies  and tools to help support you and handle that becomes really the key to long term success. You might know other attorneys who burn out or who just look really haggard (chuckle) and really old like old before their years, because stress has a very physical effect on your well being. It is correlated with so many different kinds of health problems, so finding different ways to handle it is really helpful and it is cool too because it is kind of like we have so many examples of professional athletes who meditate.

We have this big football players and NBA champions and Olympic athletes and it is because when you are able to work with own inner game, your own mindset, so that you are able to have your head in the best possible place to do the work that you know how to do without any interference from the inner anxiety, life becomes so much better and you are able to perform at a higher level because you are not kind of burning cycles in the space of being anxious and stressed and worried.

Life becomes much richer and much more vibrant and much more enjoyable and at the same time your physical health and like you said we have all the science now that is telling us in very measurable ways that meditation and mindfulness can really be amazing for your long term health.

Dustin: In fact Jaime Anderson I think she won the gold medal this last winter Olympic. She was saying how she was freaking out the night before her event and she did some Yoga and some meditation that really calmed her mind and she ended up getting the gold medal.

Kim: Yea

Dustin: With me too, I am always a huge fan of meditation. I started developing it in law school because of the stress and I definitely use it on the bar to help me pass the bar and I use it right now as an attorney as well.

Kim: Yea, and I have one tip and one like reframe that helped me so much when I was preparing for the bar and I want to share it with your listeners because that might help them too, but you know there are so many questions right and you sit down and you are like oh my gosh all of these questions, it is like over a hundred questions today like just today I have to answer a hundred questions.

When you look at that initially it can feel really overwhelming like how I am going to get through all of these in these in the short amount of time and I was talking to my brother who had been a long distant runner and he was training for a marathon and I said that is incredible I could never run a marathon, I could never run 26 miles and he says oh you do not have to run 26 miles to run a marathon you only have to run 1 mile 26 times and I know that when we study for the bar we often talked about how it is a marathon not a sprint, right you have to be in it for the long haul, and it occur to me that, that is also the same attitude when you are actually sitting down to take that test like you do not have to answer a hundred questions you just need to answer one question, the question that is in front of you and then you let it go and move to the next one.

That attitude was so trans-formative for me because suddenly I did not have to freak out; it was like oh I can answer one question like I know how to do that. One is manageable; it is just about doing it over and over again.

Dustin: Yeah I love that, that is very helpful for the bar because they get 12, 13 topics like oh I have to learn all these laws like no, you have to learn this one rule or take this essay right now and I know a lot of professional football athletes will say we are not trying to win the super bowl right now, we are just trying to go 15:05 they just focus on what is in front of them to move forward. That is great so can we do a meditation exercise?

Kim: Yea absolutely

Dustin: Let me just give the listeners a heads up because a lot of people like to listen while driving. This is not something you should listen to while driving correct, they should either pull over or pause or make sure they are not driving or operating any kind of machine right now when they are listening to this.

Kim: Yes, because I will invite you to close your eyes and that would be a very dangerous choice if you are operating a motor vehicle (chuckle) so yea, if you are driving pull over or just remember to come back and do this part later.

Dustin: Okay awesome so go ahead and take it away we are all yours.

Kim: Alright, so find a comfortable seat and if you are sitting in a chair go ahead and let your two feet be flat on the floor and find a way to sit so that your spine feel effortlessly light and lifting so that the internal structure of your spine is perfectly and gently aligned with within your own body and then allow your eyes to close and we close the eyes in order to take a break from all of this visual stimulation.

As your eyes are closed you might become more aware of all of the difference sounds in your outside environment. Notice all of the different sounds and allow your breathing to be effortless without needing to control it (breathing sound) and bring your attention inward and be really curious what does it feel like to breathe. In your physical body see if you can feel this gentle expansion through the low belly and the upper chest with each inhale, as you exhale feel that gentle release through your entire body as the breath releases you and notice that as you breathe you do not have to control it or make it different just enjoy how it feels. If you discover that your attention has drifted that is okay simply come back to noticing this physical sensation of the breath.

You are human and you are going to have thought and different emotions allow yourself to notice your thoughts and emotions in the same way that you noticed your breath they come and they go and right your only job is to very curious in your observation and very kind everything you observe (breathing) and when you are ready choose a breath and allow your eyes to slowly reopen (breathing) and you just meditated. (chuckle)

Dustin: That was awesome.

Kim: Hmmm

Dustin: I feel so calm right now.

Kim: Laughing

Dustin: So that was meditation I know a lot of people sometimes they do not really what it is and I think like you said they think it  maybe hippy or weird. That was just a basic calming relaxation exercise.

Kim: Yeah and you know what is cool is that it really becomes like unlocking a super power because you are breathing all the time anyways (chuckle) like you do not need to learn how to breathe and you do not even need to like the burden of practicing can be really, really light, but then the benefit can be huge because it can bring you back into this grounded relaxed restful place.

It can kind of turn down the volume and the anxiety and the worry and when that is kind of managed then you can meet any kind of challenge or situation from this place of grounded strength and confidence and then you just like get out of your own way and do what you know how to do. This becomes a tool and a skill that you carry with you all the time like always. It is amazing.

Dustin: Right it is an integral part of I think of bar prep and like you said it is a tool in your tool box you can use it anytime you want for free right before you go into your bar exam or at the end of the day whenever the heck you want to use it. It is all yours.

Kim: Yeah and you know you can get the same kind of benefit from just taking for example like 3 deep breaths and you can do that with your eyes open and you can do that right before you walk into that exam room. You can do it right before like the people you know say alright now go ahead and start and this is really useful because we also know from science that emotions are contagious and this means when you are surrounded by a crowd of really stressed out anxious people you can get kind of infected by their anxiety, which doesn’t help, right?

It is like you have your own to manage and really do not need anyone’s stuff to making you feel more anxious. So this is something that you can use as a tool to keep, it is like a buffer zone that even though the people around you are kind of in their own head space and they are anxious, you can still stay in this kind of like comfort zone of being relaxed of getting ready to do what you know you have been preparing to do and it just help so much.

Dustin: That is awesome. What are some general tips that you have for people when they go meditate like when should they do it, how often, how long, where?

Kim: My basic tip is start small because you want it to feel good and you want it to feel easy. Starting with 1 minute is great, sometimes if the minute feels not look enough like you want to unwind more maybe start with 3 or even 5, but initially I would not start with more than 5. You can set a timer, I use my smart phone and I will just set the timer for a minute anywhere from 1 minute to 5 minutes and then I will let my body become really quiet and sometimes I sit in a chair and sometimes I lay down if I am feeling really anxious I really want to kind of unwind to help me sleep, like if I know I need to get a really good night sleep then sometimes I will do this practice right before I go to bed.

Set your timer and then you find a place for your body to be either sitting or lying down closing your eyes is super helpful it is like it reduces the visual stimulation and then in that time span for whatever time you have given yourself to meditate you can just notice the physical sensations that are in your body. That is a great practice for meditation if that is kind of difficult for you like if you are kind of struggling with that instead focus on let me see if I can notice all the different sounds that are happening around me.

Once you start to bring your awareness just to labeling and noticing all of the sounds that creates a little bit of a resting place for your brain because it is giving your brain a job, but like your focus and attention is on this one specific place. It is good to know that your thought will be still kind of moving in the background that tends to be the case and that is not a problem it does not mean you are doing it wrong, it just means that that is just the current state of your mind right now. When you first start do it small, set a time, and choose to either listen to all the sounds around you or focus on the physical sensation of your breath.

You can practice in the morning to kind of set the tone before you dive into your studies and you can do it in the evening to help you unwind so you can really get a good night’s sleep. You can even find little moments in the day like I have a friend who teachers professional poker players to meditate and you know they got a lot got stress and high pressure situations too and he often tells them to go to the bathroom take 2 minutes to meditate and people will just see you in the bathroom but you are actually like tapping in you know to your super powers. The nice thing about when you practice small as you can find little places to tuck it in to your day and then feel how the effects support and help you.

Dustin: Should people also talk to themselves kind of like how you were guiding us through or just kind of just listen to the physical body sensations or the noises around them?

Kim: I would say experiment and find out what is most helpful for you. I tend to like having a guided meditation for me, but some people just want to feel the different sensations or just hear the different sounds. The real sort of core part of meditation is becoming observant, so however you happen to get there that is awesome, but it is really just about being observant, observe your emotions, observe your thoughts, observe the moment, and observe your physical sensations and breath.

Dustin: Fantastic. So for those people who liked it and want to learn something more about you, you also have a self study course, correct?

Kim: Yea I do it is called Five Mindful Minutes and it is all about how to learn on your own, it is like training wheels to develop your own five mindful minute’s meditation practice.

Dustin: What is involve in the course, is it an online course? Are there modules? How does it work?

Kim: So there are 7 different guided meditations and each one builds on the next and each one is about 5 minutes except the one at the end which is more like 13 minutes. So the idea is that every day you will listen to a different 5 minutes meditation and so it will guide you through the experience and then after you listen to the meditation, you take some notes of what happen for you and what you noticed and then after you go through the course you would have meditation for an entire week.

If you do it every day you will get like the practice of doing it for an entire week and then you can just repeat because you get to download the audio and find the meditations that work best for you and because it is kind of guiding you each step of the way, you do not have to think about what am I suppose to be doing now, you just get to feel along for the ride and then discover your own self discovery and insight. Once you get like the hang of it you will start applying this practice in your own life in ways that work for you.

Dustin: Sounds like the perfect supplements to bar prep studies.

Kim: Yeah I mean I like to think that it is the key to unlock your super powers and you certainly need every strength and advantage you can get (chuckle) when you are studying for the bar.

Dustin: As you can hear in the background there is an emergency going on over there, so your meditation would be very helpful for that. So I will put a forward link, I will post in on the blog also for those of you who are listening; it will be ipassmybarexam.com forward slash Kim K I M and that will send you over to her study course. How much is the course for people if they want to take it?

Kim: Well the thing is before I let people buy it, there is a little homework assignment you have to do first.

Dustin: What is the homework?

Kim: The homework is when you email me I will send you a free 5 minute meditation and you have to listen to it 5 different times and each time you listen to it you will to write down one word about your experience. If you complete that homework assignment then you will send me your 5 words and what you noticed about your experience and then and only then if you still want the course I will tell you about all that.

Because I want you to only have what works for you and the best way to find out is actually get a little practice in, because if you do not do the homework, if that is not like fun for you then the course is not going to work for you, it will not be right for you. So yeah, I have this little kind of assignment and if you want to take that you can just mail me or connect with me and that is how we get you started.

Dustin: That is awesome. She is taking care of all you guys making sure it is something you actually will like. Very good. I guess that is it. You have a great voice by the way, very calming and soothing for that meditation.

Kim: Thank you.

Dustin: So I will put a couple of links on the blog. You also got a certified California continued education teacher in meditation for lawyers, is that right?

Kim: I did and here is kind of the funny thing as I did continuing legal education course on sustainable success mindfulness for lawyers and the California bar actually revoked the approval for it. They decided that it did not meet their requirements for product, but the good news is that the company who produced it is so much in support of the program that they are now offering it for free and because they are offering it for free, law student and people who do not have bar numbers can also get that program free. It is a 1 hour presentation and I can totally hook up your listeners up with that if they want it.

Dustin: Yeah that would be awesome. I will put a link where they can download that as well.

Kim: Great.

Dustin: Thank you for coming on Kim and I am sure listeners loved it and hopefully they apply some of the techniques to help them relax and focus during the bar.

Kim: Yeah thanks for having me and it was a pleasure and you know the bar is a challenge, but it is one that everyone can make and hopefully you have gained a little bit of extra tools to help with that journey.

Kim: Absolutely thanks again.

Dustin: Alright you heard it here first that was Kim Nicol teaching you about meditation and the bar exam. You can get access to all the things Kim talked about in that episode by going to ipassmybarexam.com/kim to get access to those links. Also head over to ipassmybarexam.com/12 keys and get your free guide to 12 keys to bar exam success. It is a free pdf download.

5 Bar Exam Tips for Early Bar Prep with Dr. Mary Campbell Gallagher Podcast (Episode 019)

This week’s episode features Dr. Mary Campbell Gallagher giving her tips on early bar exam prep.  You can check out her Amazon best-selling books here.  Check out Mary’s essay tips here.

5) Get rid of the kids

4) Clear your Space

3) Get your Money in Order

2) Get your support team to support you

1) Be ready for the emotional ride

Click here for tips on the MPT.

Mistakes to avoid on the Essays

5) Don’t rush through the facts and call of the question

4) Explain your reasoning

3) Only issue spotting instead of solving the problem

2) Only just reciting the facts

1) Losing track of time

Click here to check out her Bar Write Course.

Here is a full transcript of this interview:

Intro: You’re listening to the IPassedMyBarExam.com podcast. Helping you pass your bar exam with ease and confidence; episode number 19.

Dustin:  Greetings, future bar exam passers! My name is Dustin Saiidi, founder of IPassedMyBarExam.com and author of the number one Amazon bestseller The 7 Steps to Bar Exam Success, and today I’m going to be talking with Dr. Mary Campbell Gallagher, who is a long time tutor for the bar exam. She is also the author of two very highly rated books on Amazon, Scoring High on Bar Exam Essays and Perform Your Best on the Bar Exam Performance Test. She’s going to come on today and share her 5 tips for early bar prep and then stay tuned because she will also share 5 bonus tips on the bar exam essays. So without further adieu, let’s get talking to Dr. Mary Campbell Gallagher.

Alright, welcome and we are here with Dr. Mary Campbell Gallagher, who’s going to come on today to share her 5 tips for early bar prep and her 5 bonus tips for the bar essays. How are you doing Mary?

Mary: I’m doing very well, thank you very much Dustin, delightful to be here.

Dustin: Yeah, delightful to have you on, and I’m excited to hear what you have to share today.

Mary: Well, I knew that a lot of people are wanting to prepare early for the bar exam, whether because they are working or because they have had a bad experience in the past and they want to make sure that the next time they take the bar exam is the last time; or for some other reason. In any event, many people ask me, “How do I start early?” And my approach is to say that even before you start studying, you have to start earlier than that. There are 5 things you have to get really straight before you start preparing for the bar exam. You shouldn’t lift a contract book or an MBE sample question until you have these things out of the way.

Dustin: Awesome! I’m excited to hear that and I must say that your books on Amazon have very very good reviews so if people want some help on that area, I definitely recommend. And you’re going to share some tips with us today.

Mary: Absolutely! The MPT book at the moment, you know, God knows somebody could come along and give it dreadful reviews tomorrow but at the moment it has 18 5-star reviews and 2 1-star reviews and one of those guys says he didn’t read the book. So, it’s – the people who read the book liked it. In any event, what would you like to know Dustin?

Dustin: So, you’re going to share with us, to start off, your 5 tips for early bar prep. So I guess one of the 5 things that students can do to start preparing early for the Bar?

Mary: Okay, one of them is that they can send their children away. Send your children away! It’s not cruelty, it’s the best thing you can do for them and for you. You don’t want to have distractions. And saying send your children away is short hand for saying get rid of the distractions in your life. If you walk the dog, hire a dog walker. If you cook, talk your spouse into cooking or sign-up for a service that will deliver the food everyday. But with the children, you know, they’re the biggest distraction. So, you can send them to the grandparents. Grandparents love taking care of little children. One of my students sent her 15 month old baby to China, and her parents took care of it. She came to New York, she visited the baby on Skype every week. She passed the bar exam, and it worked. Those children will be so proud of you when you pass the bar exam, but you can’t do everything at the same time. You have to have undistracted, focused time if you are going to pass the bar exam.

Dustin: What if your child is called Facebook, and you can’t just send them away. What do you do then?

Mary: But you can. Facebook is a very demanding child. It’s constantly pulling at your clothes and screaming in to your ear. I understand that. And there’s a great program called Freedom that you can buy for $10 that – yeah Freedom, that’s what it’s called. You can buy it for $10, works on either the Mac or a the PC. You put in to it how many minutes of freedom from the internet you want, and it will turn off the internet for that period of time. Go for it! You cannot be doing email or anything else on the internet, and studying for the bar exam no matter how much you tell yourself you have to do a search at the same time. You don’t! Get away from the electronic gizmos and focus on preparing for the bar if you want to pass. If you don’t, get it on and do Facebook. But if you want to pass, turn off the internet.

Dustin: I like that and I agree. I think the focus block time is key, and I think if students are going to take a break, I think, set a timer for that break and just focus on the break. But when you’re studying, focus on the study.

Mary: And when you take that break, run around the block. Don’t go on the internet.

Dustin: I like that too. Cool, I like it! So send the children away, what is the second thing to do?

Mary: Okay, second thing is, clear out a dedicated study space. You cannot share your space with a dog, with the laundry, with your bicycle, with a drying machine. You have to have a place where your desk is clear, where your book shelves are clear, where you can have your studying materials all set-up in front of you; and it’s going to stay that way. If it’s something that other people are using, it’s not going to work. It has to be dedicated for your preparation for the bar. It has to be clean. It has to be organized. If it’s junk right now, clear it out so that when your bar study begins, you are working on a clean surface.

Dustin: I like that as well because that is, I think, that has a lot to do with psychology and mind set too. If your space is really cluttered, I think it just increases the overwhelm and anxiety. But if you have a nice clean space it is easy to study in. I think that it’s a hidden thing but very important for students to do.

Mary: No television, no internet, no telephone, no email, no nothing like that. And so you just have to tell people you’re not available for two months. You love them, and they will love you even more when you are a member of the bar.

Dustin: That’s true, and you can celebrate with them when you pass. Uhm, cool! What’s tip number 3?

Mary: Number 3, get your money in order. If you are – if you’re serious about passing the bar exam, you have looked in to this and you know that failing the bar exam is a financial catastrophe. But preparing for the bar exam is also expensive and you can’t study effectively if you are worried about making car payments in California or paying the rent in New York. You also can’t prepare well if  you are looking for the cheapest fix, and know where your money will come from for the entire period. And if you have to ask for help or get a loan, do it early.

Dustin: That’s great! And how do you recommend students handle that if you know, they have been taking the bar for a second or third time where maybe they’re not getting that student loan that’s kind of carrying them over. What should they do? They’re not working, probably because they don’t have jobs; what should they do in that situation?

Mary: It depends upon the facts, and the facts  are all different. I always ask people in detail about they’re factful situation. But people who are taking it for the manyth time may want to put off taking the bar for a year until they can really focus on it because there is nothing worse than taking it every 6 months and never seeing your children. It’s one thing to send them away, it’s another thing for them not to know what you look like.

Dustin: Yeah, that’s true. Okay, cool! So get your money in order. What is tip number 4?

Mary: Tip number 4, if you are working, get 2 months off and this is another reason why you may need to put off the bar for a year. Take 2 months off. If you’re a first time taker with a job, you need at least 8 weeks away from your office, preferably 10. And watch out, watch out, because senior lawyers have what Freud calls traumatic elation. They forget that the bar exam was hard, they think it’s easy. And they will, you know, bosses will say “Oh, study for the bar! We’re so delighted you’re going to study for the bar exam. Use your office, just work in the morning, you can use your office for the rest or the day.” Or, “Work at home during Monday to Thursday, come in on Friday.” They say things like that because they don’t remember how hard it is. And I say, don’t fall for it, those are traps. If you have a job, you are thinking at some level about your job all the time. People who are self employed are the worst, they really have their business on their mind all the time. So you have to get your mind clear. Get away from the job 2 months minimum.

If you are 10 points away out of 665 in New York, obviously we have a little wiggle room. But the technical person who is taking the exam for many many times is not 10 points away.

Dustin: Right, so it seems to be going along with the theme here making the bar exam your primary focus.

Mary: The bar exams has to be your only focus. You have to eat and sleep but the bar exam has to be it. And if you are not dedicated to passing the bar exam, you won’t.

Dustin: Right. How would you say, kind of going along with taking that time off. How many hours a day, I know it’s kind of, again, fact specific. But how many hours do you recommend, generally speaking, that people study?

Mary: At least 8 and not more than 10. You need to take a little time off everyday. Play with your dog, you know, run around the block. You need to take exercise everyday because the bar exam is a physical challenge so you need to be in shape for it. You also need to take it so seriously that your spending a little bit of time.

Dustin: Awesome. Alright, tip number 5.

Mary: Number 5, this is a really tough one, and that is to persuade your family and friends to be on your team and support you. They will think you’re crazy. Okay, I know you’re crazy because you’re cutting them off. You’re cutting off the telephone, the email, you’re not able – you have to tell them. “I’m sorry, I cannot go to Uncle Ben’s for Sunday dinner. I would love to but I can’t. Please tell him I love him. I can’t be there. I’m studying for the bar exam.” And they won’t know what that means. They will think you are an exempted. You have to tell them, “Look, this is really outside of ordinary experience. There is nothing else like this but when it’s over and I pass the exam, I’ll be a lawyer. And you will come to my swearing-in, and you will be so proud of me. So please support me. It’s really hard for me and I need help. Please help me.” People like to help other people, so ask your family and your friends for their help. And explain that you need help because you can’t do all those others things that you would love to do with them, and that when you’re done and they’ve helped you, they will be happy too.

Dustin: Awesome! So really these 5 things all about getting your life in order before the bar. Sending the children away which means getting rid of distractions, having a dedicated study space, getting your money and finances in order, making sure you have 2 months off, and then also getting your family and friends to support you and not necessarily distract you.

Mary: That’s absolutely right! And you have to be prepared as well, there’s something internal that’s a little hard to talk about and that is, you have to get ready for the emotional ride that you will go through highs and lows, often in the same day. Sports psychologist talk about clutching and tanking. Clutching says, “Oh my God, I should have never gone to law school, I should have been a dentist, I should have married Harry, I should have gone in to the family business.” And tanking says, “This is really easy. I can take the evening off, I can go surfing, I can go to the movies, I don’t need to worry about this stuff. And often times those two types of wacky thoughts will come at you on the same day. You have to expect it and just say the damn, “Thank you for sharing.”

Dustin: Right. How do you recommend people deal with the emotions? Like, I recommend people do meditation, visualization, utilized affirmations to kind of like program their mind and calm their emotions. What do you recommend?

Mary: Meditation is great. Weekly full body massage, if they can afford it, is great. Exercise is extremely important, and it does calm the emotions. So between meditation, massage, exercise. And if they need therapy they get that as well. If there are therapist out there who do more than write prescriptions anymore. Yes, all of those things. And it’s also good to have one safe person that you can talk to for 5 minutes a day. This is somebody who’s not going to tell you you’re crazy for spending all your time. This is someone who’s going to tell you “you’re terrific”, and “go for it”, “you’re doing the right thing”, and “we believe in you”. If you can talk to that person 5 minutes a day, I think it will help too.

Dustin: Yeah, definitely. I think it was Tom Brady who said that, “One’s performance on the football field is the direct corelation of their ability to manage their emotions on their home turf and their personal life.” I think it’s the same with the bar exam. How you can perform in the bar, and even as a lawyer, has a lot to do with how you are able to manage your emotions in personal life at home.

So, cool. Thank you for those 6 tips, Mary. Now, I understand you have some 5 bonus tips for us.

Mary: Sure, 5 bonus tips are mistakes to avoid in the essays and that includes the practice essays, which you will do maybe once or twice a week before the bar exam. Tip number 1 on the essays is, rather, mistake number one in the essays is rushing through reading the interrogatories and the facts. People get so anxious to write more and more and more that they don’t figure out what’s actually in front of them to do. what’s the problem? If you don’t know what the problem is, anything that you could write is likely to be wrong. So you have to solve the problem the bar examiners ask you to solve, and only the precise problem that’s in front of you. If you’re not answering their question, how can you possibly hope for a good score? And if you don’t understand the facts, how can you solve the problem? So, really careful reading 2-3 times is key.

Dustin: Awesome! Read through 2-3 times make sure you get all the facts and don’t rush.

Mary: That’s right. And the interrogatories are really key because they tell you what the bar examiners want to know about these facts. So I say, visualize the story, see it in your imagination, think about the questions that might ask these people, understand the facts and 3/4 of the way because facts are all we have. You have to know law but, if you don’t understand the facts you can’t be a lawyer.

Dustin: Right, awesome! What’s mistake number 2?

Mary: Mistake number two is stating conclusions without showing your reasoning. The bar examiners, I’m sorry, are not really very interested in your conclusions. Strange as it may seem, you don’t get credit for ‘therefore.’ And knowing the right answers earns you nothing. So it’s a terrible mistake to jump in to conclusions without the argument. The grader wants to know what sort of analysis you did to reach your conclusion. So your reasoning is the main thing that counts. It’s like what your grade school teacher said, you have to show your work. Not presenting an argument is a mistake that will knock your essays out of the game.

Dustin: Going along the lines with that, I feel like, at least I did, at least start it off and some people they maybe do too much analysis or show too much work. Is there such thing as you’re doing too much, you’re writing too much versus too little?

Mary: There’s plenty about writing too much but very often they’re not doing analysis, they’re repeating the facts. You don’t want to be sitting there telling the story. They already know that because it’s on the fact pattern

Dustin: Right. If you can give an example; how much is too much, how much is too little. Where is the kind of the juicy spot in the middle?

Mary: Well in Scoring High on Bar Exam Essays, I show that almost every bar exam in the country can be divided in to two parts. Doing – excuse me let me start over again, writing almost every bar exam essay in the country can be analyzed as one part is reading and outlining, and one part is writing. A third of a time is reading and outlining, and two-thirds is writing. So in New York, a third of a time is 15 minutes and 30 minutes is for writing. In California, a third of a time is 20 minutes and 40 minutes is for writing. Then inside, as I show in Scoring High in Bar Exam Essays, inside the writing time you will be writing paragraphs. In California you might write 7 paragraphs. In New York you might write 5. And so you divide that time by the number of paragraphs you’re going to write. Then within each paragraph most of your time goes in to handling the law, and explaining the law, and a much smaller amount goes in to analysis, and virtually none goes in to therefore. Therefore can be 6 or 7 words long.  So to answer your question, rather a round about way, the bulk of your product is the law and it’s direct application to the facts, then you have a much smaller part for analysis and a tiny part for therefore.

Dustin: Awesome! What is mistake number 3?

Mary: Mistake number 3 is doing an issue spotting demonstration. Like you know, law review candidate in law school, instead of trying to solve the clients problem. If the client’s problem is that the map was not correct, he lost his way and his wife died freezing in the desert and it’s not going to help to say that there might be a First Amendment issue about that map if it was a government map. That’s really off. It’s really off, it’s off the wall. So what might count as brilliant issue spotting in your 1st year at a top law school, where you’re competing for the law review spot; is going to count as lunatic, off the wall, blabber if you’re doing an exam where you are supposed to be helping a client solve their problem. This is not a Supreme Court question. This is not a law school exam. This is a try-out for a license to practice law so stay away from crazy issue spotting. Spot the basic issues. Especially in California, California is much more in issue spotting that New York is. Spot the basic issues, do the basic analysis, and make everything you do well organized and you’ll be in the right place.

Dustin: I like it! What is mistake number 4?

Mary: Mistake number 4 is the opposite. It is just reciting the facts. Telling the story. This is the sure way to make the grader angry with you. Not a good thing to do because the grader already knows the facts. They are in the fact pattern. You and the grader both have the fact pattern. You don’t want to tell him again that John went to the store and the guard hit him in the jaw; he knows that. He only wants to hear about it if it’s somehow legally relevant. So you don’t just re-tell the story. You stay in the law, you apply the law to the facts, and that’s your job here. It’s a licensing exam. Do a good job for the client, and you’ll do a good job for yourself.

Dustin: Awesome, and number 5?

Mary: Number 5 is a clincher. It is, you won’t believe this, losing track of time. You can have a lot to say about every question and no one cares. Practitioners do not solve clients problems by rattling on and on. If you don’t finish the essay, how can you get a good score? It’s impossible! So divide your time by the number of essays and put that down in a sheet of paper saying, “This time I’m going to finish essay number 1 and this time going to finish number 2 at this time”, Put down what time you started and finishing each essay. Put down, if possible, what time you’re doing the outlining for each essay. Divide each essay by the amount of time for each section. Write that down and then get straight to the point. Get in and get it out. Not managing your time in a bar exam essay is a mistake that will also be a mistake in law practice. If you are an associate, partners don’t want you rambling on. So this is extremely important for your practice, for your future. Learn how to manage the time because mistake number 5, losing track of time, has knocked many people out of the bar exam. It’s a really fatal mistake.

Dustin: Yeah, I’ve heard actually people they get sometimes an 80, a score of 80 on the first essay but, they write so much and then by the time they get to the third essay they’ve hardly written anything and they end up failing the third essay miserably and failing the bar as a result.

Mary: It’s a sure way to do it.

Dustin: Awesome! Great, great tips! So the 5 essay mistakes that people make is rushing through the facts and interrogatives and not reading them carefully enough, stating conclusions without the proper reasoning, just doing issue spotting demonstration without really spotting the relevant issues and going in to those, reciting the facts too much was number 4 rather than doing proper analysis, and number 5 is not managing time.

Mary: Yup, those are it! Those are the 5 worst mistakes.

Dustin: Cool! Well, thank you so much. You talked a little bit about your books, you also have a tutoring company.

Mary: No, we don’t do tutoring very much. We do a little bit but, we do large classes, that’s what we really do. We give a large group classes for people here in New York City, who come to us and people who come from very far away to take the classes. People come from very far away to take the MPT class which is, if I do say so, terrific. And so we have a ten day class just on weekend so still they’re only for people in New York and that is largely for re-takers or for foreign-trained lawyers who need extra support. For the New York bar exam, it’s only for the New York bar exam. Then we also have twice in each period, we have 4 days of boot-camp, I call it. In January – once in January, once in February, once in June, once in July. We have this 4 day boot-camp. The first day is for MPT. People come from far away to take that. And the other 3 days are the New York essays. In addition, I give the 4 day boot-camp in Houston. So, starting May 15, I’m going to be giving May 15, 2014. I’m going to be giving the 4 day boot-camp in Houston, TX as well. So we have the 10 day, and we have these 4 day classes. The essays in those classes are all for New York. The MPT part is clearly for the 35, or so, jurisdictions where they use the MPT. Plus, anybody who uses another performance test. I’ve had people take the class and pass the Pennsylvania performance test and good job there. And I’m told by experts on the California bar that my MPT systems also work very well for the California performance test.

Dustin: That’s awesome! Any chance you might move those online so people, maybe in California, can watch them online?

Mary: The problem with that is it’s extremely interactive and there are also long pauses while people write. It’s not exactly dramatic television. Everybody tells me that, that would be great and a lot of people who’s been at it have asked for it. But I don’t know how to do it and get the same results. But I’m thinking about it all the time. I would love to do it if it can be done and be fair for the students. I don’t want to mislead people and tell them they’d get the same thing they would if they’re in New York, and not have it work for them.

Dustin: Right, very true. How much is the price for the 10 day and then the 4 day?

Mary: I’m sorry, what?

Dustin: How much does it cost for the 10 day and the 4 day?

Mary: Oh for the tuition. Okay. Well, it depends upon when you register. If somebody registers very early for the 10 day or the 4 day. The 10 day they might pay $1,300 or $1,400. If they register very early for the 4 day then they might pay $400. And we’re always looking at those tuition charges so people should go to the website which is www.BarWrite.com. Not this week because this week we’re busy but, next week we’ll have the new tuition up for the June and July classes. And they can see exactly what the tuition would be right now. And the earlier they register, clearly, the better.

Dustin: Awesome, and I will also post the links to those on the blog as well.

Mary: That would be great! Thank you, Dustin.

Dustin: Cool! Well, thank you, Dr. Mary Campbell Gallagher. I really appreciate the tips that you gave today and I’m sure the listeners do as well.

Mary: Great. Great to be here.

Dustin: So yeah, maybe we’ll have you come on and talk about the MPT in the future. How does that sound?

Mary: I would love to do that. It’s my favorite.

Dustin: Okay, cool! Well, thanks again and we will have you on next time.

Mary: Great!

Dustin: Alright, you heard it hear first. That was Dr. Mary Campbell Gallagher. To go ahead and view her website head on over to IPassedMyBarExam.com/Mary and it will send you right over to her website. Also, be sure to check-out the blog post to get links to her books on Amazon.

Alright go out there and get it this week. Go work hard. Go crush it. Go do well. And always remember that in time, your name appears on the pass list.

5 Biggest Bar Exam Mistakes with Jessie Zaylia Podcast (Episode 018)

Want to know the 5 Biggest Bar Exam Mistakes? Take a listen to Jessie Zaylia, who failed the bar twice, made a few mistakes along the way, learned from them, and passed on her 3rd time.

Listen to what corrections she made to make her a bar exam passer.

Here is a link to Jessica’s Videos and blog, where she reveals how she passed the bar exam:

Mistake #1: Not Reviewing Bar MBE answers in detail

Mistake #2: Didn’t Nail the Main issue in the answer

Mistake #3: Didn’t Master Time Allocation with Timed Practice Exams

Mistake #4: Didn’t Go to ‘Library’ before ‘File’ on Performance Tests

Mistake #5: Be Honest with yourself about Test Anxiety and Learn How to Handle It

Do you want someone to look at your bar essay answer and give you personalized feedback on an essay by essay basis?

Jessie can help you!

Contact her at http://www.IPassedMyBarExam.com/CBX.  Mention “DUSTIN” to get 20% off your essay or PT review!

Here is a full transcript of this interview:

Intro: You’re listening to the IPassedMyBarExam.com podcast, helping you pass your bar exam with ease and confidence; episode number 18.

Dustin: Welcome, future bar exam passers! My name is Dustin Saiidi, founder of IPassedMyBarExam.com and author of the Amazon bestseller The 7 Steps to Bar Exam Success. Today we’re going to bring on Jessie Zaylia from cbxtutor.com. Jessie took the bar and passed on her third time. She now helps others by tutoring them in a very unique way which we’ll hear at the end of the interview. She also will come on today to share her top 5 mistakes she made during her failed bar attempts, and why she passed on the third time. So without further adieu, let’s go in to the call.

Alright, welcome and we are here with Jessie Zaylia from cbxtutor.com who’s going to come on today to tell us the 5 biggest mistakes people take when going through the bar exam. Hi Jessie, how are you doing?

Jessie: I’m doing great, Dustin. How are you?

Dustin: I’m doing well. Thanks again for coming on today.

Jessie: You’re welcome.

Dustin: So, tell the listeners a little bit about you and your bar exam experience, kind of what you went through, and how you came around to helping people the way that you do now with the bar exam.

Jessie: My experience with the California bar was terrible. I don’t think that anyone has, necessarily, pleasant experience with the California bar exam but mine was awful. I took it three times before I passed, and for anybody who’s a repeater, they know that when they realize that they fail the first time it’s kind of as if your world crashes because your friends are passing and you’re not, with maybe a few exceptions, and it’s a giant blow to your ego and also makes you feel a little bit hopeless like, “Oh my goodness, Am I going to be able to pass this thing? I tried so hard. What am I doing wrong? Yada, yada, yada..” It takes a lot of will power to get up on that horse again. So I did, I took it the second time, and interestingly my written scores did not change, not even for one tiny bit from the first time that I took it. But my MBE scores shot up, and I actually almost passed with my MBE scores. I was 7 points away from passing, so then I tried some things that were very very new for the third time. And when I took it the third time I felt normal. The first two times I didn’t feel normal. I would look at the essays or PT and say, “Okay, this is different and so I can’t answer the way that I normally answer because this is different, and I’ll fail if I answer it the same way. And I learned that’s a little something called test anxiety. That actually it is the same and if you feel like it’s different, you probably need to see whether that’s something that you are afflicted with and then you may do something about it. So, I promised myself that if I did indeed pass the California bar on the third time, that I would post about it on my blog. And my blog is 100% free; there’s no ads, there are no ads, and it’s just not monetized in any way. I want people to be able to find this information for free because the bar is just so oppressive, so that’s what I’ve done.

Dustin: Yeah, that’s awesome, congratulations on passing. And that’s how I found you is through your blog, and you put 3 videos on there about your bar exam experience. They were very captivating, let’s say, when I was watching it. And you know, a lot of people have liked it. I think right now we have 41 comments just on that blog post alone which is a lot in the bar exam space.

Jessie: Thank you.

Dustin: So, what did you do, I know we”ll kind of go into the 5 mistakes in a little bit or unless it’s going to come up during that time. What did you kind of do with the MBE? You said that on the second time your score shot up. Was there something different, specifically, that you did?

Jessie: Yeah, there was. And this is going to be one of my 5 but that’s okay. We can go ahead because that is a good question. Now, I know that this is something that people really disagree upon. The blogosphere is rife with the division between whether to do PNBR through Kaplan or whether that’s a big waste of time. The first time that I took the bar, I did not take PNBR Kaplan because I read so many entries and opinions about people thinking PNBR is a big waste of time. Plus, I was taking Bar/Bri already and they have their MBE component. But the second time I went and took Kaplan, and there is such a difference between the two, I found. I found the questions in Kaplan to be much more realistic when compared to the bar. I found that the questions for the bar we had were too easy. I felt that they do not accurately reflect like, the degree of difficulty that existed in bar exam. So I took Kaplan and they have a combined course, I want to say it’s something like, 5 days at the beginning and then at the very end towards the last week or two before you take the bar they have a 3 day thing that they do. So, I took whatever that’s called. I mentioned that in my blog and I gave a link to it. But, that’s what I did. I also did something very different from what people are typically told. People are told to do 33 questions a day. 33 brand new questions a day to get through that giant red book or to get through whatever book you’re going through. I did not have time to do that, I just didn’t. I needed to focus on my writing which is what most people need to focus on. So what I did instead is, I took those 5 days initially that I took with PNBR. I saved my answers, I always save my score sheets, and I would go back through those. And I would study the rationale behind the answer that was given, and I would look at why I answered the way I did, whether I got the answer right or wrong; it didn’t matter. I went over those questions, and I did that throughout my entire time studying for the bar and even at the very very end. When I took their 3 day tests at the very end, my scores were much better than it were at the beginning, much better.

Dustin: Nice. So, good preparation program which in your case was PNBR Kaplan for the MBE helped you out.

Jessie: Yeah, yes. I didn’t do it the way they told me to do it. I just repeated the questions that I had taken before. I didn’t do 33 questions a day, that was just impossible.

Dustin: Right.

Jessie: To me it seems like, if you do 33 questions a day, it’s not necessarily helpful if you don’t have the time to then look in the back and really study the rationale behind the answers for those questions. That’s so important, the rationale’s critical because you’re not going to see those exact same questions on your bar so it’s not a matter of memorizing that, you have to get in to the bar’s head. So for me that was very important, and if that meant that I didn’t have time for 33 questions that’s just what that meant. And my scores, the second time when I took the bar, since I failed I got my scores back and my scores from the MBE were very good. I think, what is it, they do a raw score and then they do a like, askewed score, they curve it. So I think my raw score, if I remember right, was 138. Something like that.

Dustin: Wow!

Jessie: It is high. So that’s what I did. I did not do those new 33 questions everyday. I did not have time for it.

Dustin: Nice! I think what you bring-up is a very, very critical tip as well. Because I see a lot of people they’re like, “Oh, just try to do like, 2,000 MBE questions.” They’re focused on the number but, what you said is right. You got to – you can’t just, it’s not just the number of questions you blitz through. It’s not the quantity, it’s more of the quality. So you got to go back and look at it; “Why is this the right answer”, “Why are these the wrong answers,” and really absorb it.

Jessie: Yeah, that was my experience.

Dustin: Awesome, awesome tip. What’s the second mistake then, I guess we can jump in to.

Jessie: Okay so, I’ll just sort of go in to the other portions of the bar. My second tip is for the essays. One thing that I noticed is that it’s not about doing this crazy issue spotting, unless you’re in an evidence question that happens to be a race horse. Which the latest evidence questions from what I have noticed from the past 5 years or so, they have not been race horses anyway. They are also going along with the same pattern as the other essays and that is, you typically have one major issue per essay.

One of my friends put it to me this way, “Jessie, the bar examiners just want to make sure that when you get out into the field, you are not going to commit malpractice.” I think that’s absolutely true, now that I look back upon my experiences. And you have to make sure that you really are paying attention to the most obvious thing that the examiners are trying to kick you in the teeth with. So when you have an assault issue, they’re talking about assault in that paragraph, the next paragraph they’re probably going to talk about a battery, you might have a second assault appear somewhere in the next paragraph. But I’m just going to give an example.

When you take the bar, the same people who annoyed the ever living crap out of you during law school, who would talk about the exam immediately after the exam do the same thing with the bar. It’ very annoying.

And I remember, I had this issue, it was a civil procedure question, and this was the third time I took the bar. And there was a very very small collateral estoppel issue. The big issue was not that, there was a bigger issue. I can’t remember what the bigger issue was because it does not fit in to the story. But I had time so I mentioned that there was collateral estoppel, or that it was an issue and that it did exist and why did it exist. But I took two sentences to deal with it. Seriously, didn’t take a lot of my time.

Then I was done and after that period was over, even before we were let out of the giant room, this jerk behind me he said, “Man, did you see that res judicata question?” So if we remember back to law school there’s a difference between res judicata and collateral estoppel, there’s a difference. And sometimes the two are fit under the giant umbrella called res judicata, but there are actually two separate issues. And so this guy was talking out res judicata, res judicata, that he was freaking out everybody around him. I saw the beads of sweat pour upon our faces and I thought, you know what, that guy is not going to get any points for what he think is brilliant about res judicata. And he’s probably spent way too much time talking about that because he’s so impressed with himself, as opposed to the giant issue of, you know, whatever the hell it was i have no idea. You know, let’s just say, jurisdiction. Something like that. I’m sure he probably missed the very giant issue because he was so proud of himself for finding this very small issue.

So don’t do that. Don’t listen to people and them thinking that they are so brilliant that they found this very tiny nugget of something. First of all, they’re probably wrong. Second, they probably spent way too much time addressing that rather than allocating appropriate time to discuss the major issue in a forward manner.

So that is my third piece of advice, is to make sure that you can look at the paragraph in front of you and think, what major issue are they waving a flag about. And then the same question with the next paragraph, and the same question with the next paragraph.

Dustin: Right. They’re also probably re-taking the bar.

Jessie: Who knows. This guy was so cocky that it makes me think he was a first timer because I don’t know if any repeaters are very cocky. Maybe I’m wrong about that but, I know I wasn’t. It just blew my confidence down the ground.

Dustin: Awesome! I’m sure we’ll get in to that later as well. Great, great tip on mistake to avoid. What is the next one?

Jessie: The next one, since it ties in so well with what I was talking about earlier regarding time allocation is, time allocation. And for this I have a story, I like to have stories that are examples of the mistake because I think we learn better from examples.

Time allocation is so very important and people think that they don’t need to practice timed exams. I think that probably, I would think that it’s a small percentage of people who feels this way but I’m learning more and more as I’m helping candidates for the bar, I’m learning that more and more people are actually not doing that. They are not taking timed practice exams.

There was a study that came out from Harvard and I linked it to my blog, and it said that practicing exams is a better way to learn the material than actually sitting down and studying and reading the material over and over again; it’s taking practice exams well. If that’s true, then by extension, I would imagine that since the California bar is a timed exam then you can do nothing but benefit by taking timed exams.

One of my friends, who is brilliant by the way, she’s very very smart and she eventually did pass the bar but she failed twice. The second time she took it, was the second time that I took it. And there was a contracts question, she and I both love contracts, I don’t no anyone else who loves contracts but we love contracts. And after the first portion, it was the very first essay, she came up to me during lunch and she looked like she was about ready to pass out. She was gray and I said, you know, “What happened?” She said, “I set-up this beautiful contracts answer. It was perfect. It was just step, by step, by step. It was a perfect outline of everything, all the issues, adequate discussion on all the major issues – everything. And then I looked up and I have five minutes left.” When you take the bar exam, similar to when you take a law school exam, time does not fly by more quickly when you are taking one of these exams. So you must, must, must practice timed. Very important that you do that.

Dustin: That’s awesome! And I think, that’s actually one of my number 1 tips I give as well. And for me is the number 1 reason I passed was taking timed practice exams over and over and over, as opposed to just learning the law and studying the law and trying to figure all that stuff out. Once I figured out that it’s the essays and what we’re actually tested on is kind of like, walking in to that room, take a 1 hour essay and, you know, issue spot and being able to write a good legal analysis. That’s when everything changed for me.

Jessie: Right.

Dustin: Great, great tip and interesting story with your friend. Did she end up passing, eventually?

Jessie: She did. She took it the very next time. Didn’t make that mistake and she passed.

Dustin: Awesome! What is the next mistake that people make?

Jessie: Okay so number 4, I’m going to go ahead and jump on to the PTs that we were addressing you know, one of each part of each exam. So the second time that I realized that I failed the bar, I finally checked my ego at the door 100%. I emailed some of my friends bout practice essay. I called one of my buddies about the writing as well and he called me back and it’s my friend Noah, he won’t mind me mentioning his name because now I just call this the Noah method. He spent an hour on the phone with me, explaining how he does PTs. And I explain it more thoroughly on my blog but I’ll just give you the quicker tip.

And the quick tip is to always, always, always, always go to the library before you go to the file. I think that this is going to apply to everybody but, I think the trick attached to that is going to apply more to your laptoppers than your handwritters. I hate to say that for I know there are handwritters out there but, let me just explain to you why. When you read a case in law school, chances are you wrote a little case squib or you stole somebody elese’s case squib or something like that to learn more and more and more. Then you’re given a law school exam, you know the law already, and you apply the facts.

The same thing is going to happen here, that when you very first start a job, kind of the opposite happens. Your boss gives you some details just like it does on the instructions and in the memo that you get in your PT. And then he’s giving you some of the facts and you’re thinking, “Oh God, I need to look at this facts.” and you don’t know what you’re doing because you don’t know the law of whatever particular firm or field that you’re working in, chances are. And then you try to research the law and it takes so much longer to do that.

I have the benefit of working for a firm the entire time I was taking the bar exam all three times so, by the time the third time came I thought, you don’t do that. It makes sense that you go to the library first because you know the law, and afterwards you apply facts. So what do you do? You should go to the library if you have statutes there, if it’s just a couple of statutes, a couple of code sections, then okay read the code sections or whatever browse through them.

If you have a whole bunch of a longer list of code sections, that’s not going to be helpful to read through those. It just isn’t. It’s going to be a grandiose waste of your time. The cases are going to point to the code sections, I think a lot of us knows this already but, that’s true. So you need to go to your cases and you need to write a little case squib. Always start out your rope part with whatever statute is going to apply. But you will know that because the cases are going to tell you what statutes are going to be the important ones.

So you want to do that, and then after you’re done stating the black letter law in the statute, then you can talk about how the case interpreted that. You do a little case squib and then you do that for the very next case, and you do that for the very next case. So if you’re a laptopper, obviously you’re able to do this and leave quite a bit of space between your case squibs. What I actually like to do, I’ll just back-up a second, is while I’m reading the memo I’ll do an outline of how that answer should look like right there and then. My answer is outlined, all I need to know is where to plug-in that case squibs when I write them. So when I read case number 1, I’m going to know whether it’s going to fit to issue number 1 or issue number 2 or issue number 3, whatever. So then I’ll just plug-in that case squibs where ever it needs to go.

So by the time I’m already in the file, I’ve already got my outline which are going to be your issues. I’ve already got my case squibs, which is going to be your goal. Now all I need to go and do is to find those facts. And there is a way to figure out, you know, what things are more important. You know, if there is a transfer then that’s probably what’s really important so pay attention to that. But that’s going to be the most important thing is that you go to library first. Always do that.

Once he told – once my friend Noah told me this is what he does or what he did and he passed the first time, I went home, I did exactly what he said. I did it timed, very important again, and then I looked in to the sample answer and it was so good. It was so good!

And I have never had that easy of a time on a performance exam, ever, before that moment. But once he talked to me, it made sense in my brain, I put it together by practicing it once and then I never touched the PTs from that moment until I took the bar exam. And when we talked was the day after I found out I failed the second time. So I didn’t touch a PT from that day all the way until I took the bar exam for the third time and it was like, it all made sense. Much easier.

Dustin: Nice! Sounds like a very simple way to break down all the irrelevancy that’s put into a PT, and just finding what’s important and put it down.

Jessie: I hope so, it definitely worked for me. It just makes sense, the worlds came together, cosmos aligned, whatever. It made sense to me.

Dustin: Cool! We’ll get people your email and contact at the end of this so that they can contact you if they want to know the Noah method from you as well. Cool, and what is the fifth mistake you made or somebody made?

Jessie: This one actually is something that I made and I’m sensitive about this one, not personally, but I’m sensitive to the fact that others might want to hear this. When I spoke earlier about test anxiety, I just did not think I had it especially because in undergrad, I was so good at what I did. I made straight A’s. I was given all these awards by the faculty, faculty voted me for most outstanding graduate and everything.

And so I thought, “Oh, I know what I’m doing.” I think a lot of us who go to law school come as rock stars, a lot of us do. And then most of us get kicked in the teeth. I like to use the metaphor being kicked in the teeth a lot when I talk about the law, in case you haven’t noticed because it’s what it does. Anyhow, I thought for sure, test anxiety would not apply to me because I was always very very good at taking test when I was an undergrad. Now when I came to law school, I was not as good with taking my test but I did not attribute that to any idea that I could have test anxiety. Instead, I attributed that to me not being good, oh I don’t know, any other sort of self-defeating how-horrible-am-I appeal that I have to my self.

That’s what I would do but I wouldn’t want to show it because everybody thought I was very smart. So I didn’t want to show that I had this doubts by myself. And even professor, I had a couple of professors come up to me, after different semesters and they said, “Oh my God, Jessie you’re so smart, I can’t believe you have a B on this exam.” And they would sit down and they would talk to me, and when they are talking to me it made sense that I was able to talk to them about the exam.

I had ideas, I’ll be like, yes that’s right. But when it came down to the test, I was all over the place. Again, I didn’t realize that. I did not recognize it for what it was. Finally when I took the bar and when I fail it the second time, I had somebody telling me, “Do you have test anxiety? You need to check this out.” And I was like, “No I really don’t think I have it. I just think that I’m bad at this, I’m not good at this.” He said, “You need to figure this out immediately. It’s worth it for you to do that.”

So the third time I took the bar, I did everything differently, except for the MBE obviously since that worked for me before so I kept that exact same thing for MBE. But everything else I did differently including going and getting medicated. I talked to somebody about it. They said, “It seems to me that you probably do have test anxiety if you’re sitting down during the California bar and when you’re getting the same information. The essays are, they are not exactly the same content but, you handle them the exact same way every time essentially. And when your looking at that and saying, “Oh my God, this is so different. I can’t answer this the same way or I’m going to fail.”

That is test anxiety by the book. So I got medicated. I got put on a daily, low dosage. And that just helped me maintain for those 3 months or whatever. And then I got put on an as-needed which was Ativan. And I practiced taking Ativan too. I practiced everything.

So I did a fake bar exam the week before the actual bar, the third time. And I practiced getting up in the morning, taking an Ativan, and then taking the test to see how I did. And I did okay. With the exception of one where I didn’t really know the law and I didn’t know what hell I was doing, but I didn’t get as bad scores as I thought I would.

And so I practiced that and that’s exactly what I did for the bar. I continued taking my low dosage everyday the entire 3 months, and every morning I would take one Ativan and I sat down for the bar and I felt like a normal person. It was unlike the prior two experience, completely. It was just, I felt normal, and I just can’t tell you how re-assuring that was.

Dustin: Wow! Thank you for sharing that. I know, I appreciate, and I’m sure the listeners can appreciate that as well. So thank you.

Jessie: Well that’s my pleasure. It’s better that you go and at least just see if this is something that might apply to you. It might not but, you know, it might. And you’ve got to get over yourself, to get over the bar you just must do that. It’s worth it.

Dustin: What were some of the symptoms? I know you mentioned a little bit when you’re sitting down on the test and you start having those worry thoughts. What are some other symptoms you had that maybe led you to believe that you may have test anxiety?

Jessie: I wish I could say. I don’t remember any particular symptoms that would have otherwise tipped me off. All I remember is, when I would sit down for the bar. So unfortunately, this may apply to the repeaters better because you practice exams even though they’re practice, they’re not like the actual bar. And that it is the exam itself.

So if you’re sitting there and if you’re thinking, “This really is different. This is actually not at all the same what I’ve been looking at before. So I can’t answer the same or I’m going to fail.” And so you start answering differently. That’s going to kick you in the butt.

And that is the symptom. And that’s the only symptom that I recognize. It’s not like, sweaty face or my heart started beating really weird. People might have that too but, that’s not really what happened to me. Although, now that I think about it, I remember feeling more physically comfortable when I was sitting for the third time. So, I wish I could say that there are particular symptoms but I don’t think there necessary were.

Dustin: I see, I think I had former test anxiety, at least in the beginning of law school. Sometime in tests I would get sweaty palms or my heart would bit a little bit faster. But I never really linked it to test anxiety because in undergrad I never really have those issues but, now that you bring it up, it may have been test anxiety. I use personally, different types of meditation and just different type of relaxing exercises.

Jessie: I tried that too. I did try to just relax but I think that I was perhaps not good at that or maybe I needed something a little more extra because, again, it’s very hard to – I’m not a doctor so I’m very hesitant to give any of this advice but it’s not really advice it’s just really my own experience and I think that it could apply to others.

I think that people probably did very, very well in undergrad and so this is probably something that’s under-diagnosed in a lot of bar takers. They think like, “Of course, I don’t have test anxiety. I graduated Magna Cumlaude in undergrad so, of course I can’t have test anxiety.” But it’s a different animal. California bar is a different animal. Law school is a different animal. So I think that, that’s something that people – it won’t hurt them to look in to it.

Dustin: Definitely, yeah. That’s a great great thing to bring up because you know, I think that people should be more honest and introspective of themselves and what they’re going through during the bar exam so that’s great.

Jessie: Well yeah, so those are my 5!

Dustin: Oh I did want to ask you this too, I know you said you worked during your bar exam prep all three times?

Jessie: No, not all three times.

Dustin: The last time?

Jessie: The last time I worked. The first two times I did not work. And the first time I’d say, I did not deserve to pass the bar because I was going through – I say, “Don’t go to personal stuff.” Well if personal stuff happens, you can’t not go through. Don’t add additional drama but, I was coming up, my last semester in law school was very difficult.

I was taking care of my grandmother that was dying from cancer and she passed away probably about a month before I started studying for the exam. My dog that I loved dearly, she was put down by my ex and it was terrible. And all this different things were happening and I found someone new who was wonderful and you’re not supposed to find someone new but I did.

So, I wasn’t studying nearly as much as I should have the first time. The second time, I took off work – I’m sorry, I got hired before I took it the first time but it wasn’t actually working, so let me just clarify that point. But the second time I took it, I was at my firm and they were very supportive and said, “If you need extra time off it’s fine.”

So, I took my time off and I studied my butt off. You know, it really pisses me off when on the bloggosphere, I see some jerk say something like, “You know, all you really need to do to pass the bar is have dedication and will power or whatever. It just takes time and dedication, time and dedication. No, it does not take time and dedication. It takes that in a minimum.

Time and dedication for philosophy majors out there, those are necessary components but they are certainly not sufficient at all. If you’re studying the wrong law, if you don’t have good time allocation, but if you have a lot of time and dedication you’re going to fail because that’s exactly what happened to me the second time. I could not have studied more than I did the second time.

The third time, again my bosses were very very supportive I was extremely lucky, and they said, “We’ll, you can bill a minimum of 130 hours a month. And we’ll support you studying for the bar.” I ended up billing about 150 hours a month just because things have to be done to not commit malpractice in law, if I was lawyer.

But I did, I worked on that paralegal stuff basically while I was taking the bar. And as soon as I was finished I would get up early, go to work, bill until 5:00, 6:00 at the the very latest, go home. I also rented out a room about ten minutes away from work. I lived 45 minutes to an hour away from work at that time. But instead, I just rented out a room for a few hundred bucks, for those three months I was studying for the bar. So it was just 10 minutes away. I drive home, I would do something relaxing like eat and then I would

study, study, study, study, study; until I fall asleep. I did that everyday and then every weekend I just studied. I studied all the time so you have to be very harsh with yourself and that’s what I did. And it worked and I did passed and I have a friend who passed while she was working too. So it can happen, absolutely.

Dustin: That’s awesome! And now you help people pass the bar exam. You’re a tutor, correct?

Jessie: I hope so, yeah. I tutor and I actually have some tutors working under me. We started, me and my fiance, we started a tutoring business just for the California bar exam informating some of the principles that I’ve spoken about already but a little more detailed.

So, when I was going through the bar, one thing that frustrated me to high heaven was the idea that I could not even pay somebody to sit down and talk with me for an hour. There was no by the hour tutoring out there that didn’t also come attached with a giant package where you have to spend $5,000 to $10,000 for this giant package. Oh it will include tutoring or you can add by the hour tutoring after that.

But hell, I already spent thousand of dollars, I was already enrolled and my overall general bar prep course. I didn’t have that extra thousands of dollars and you know, the only people who have that or who come from families who have that available to them, I simply do not. So I was frustrated by the idea that I could not pay somebody to pick their brain or to say, “Hey, look at my essay. Can you please tell me what am I doing wrong with my essays. What am I doing?” There’s nobody out there.

And I searched and searched. So I thought, you know, after I pass the bar I’m going to do this. Now I’m an attorney so I don’t have time to really tutor people but one person who was looking at my blog, this is how it all started, he wanted my help. So he did that same thing to me that I did wanted to do to somebody. He gave me his essay, he said, “Please, please, please help me. So I agreed to do it but I understood that I don’t have time to do that for everybody in the whole world. Especially for free I just can’t do that, I can’t.

So I told him I would do it for free for him in exchange for me using his essay as a sample for free for others to use and hopefully benefit from. So we have that example to give for somebody who’s interested in getting tutoring, and you can see the detailed feedback that we gave and it’s very very personalized.

We’re able to look at what you’re doing and see if you have any patterns or if you’re just rushing through it or if you just clearly have a lot or you don’t have a lot, or if you are not seeing those big facts or if your chasing after small irrelevant – not irrelevant, but very unimportant issues. We can see what people are doing so we do have some tutors who have gone through a rigorous process to work for us.

The company is called CBX Tutor and you can find it on cbxtutor.com. And for those who don’t know, CBX stands for California Bar Exam, it’s kind of an internet thing. But that’s what I do. I’ve got some great feedback, people are passing the bar and I’d like to think that I helped and maybe they would have passed it anyway, I don’t know. But, it’s something that I wished that I has and so I had decided to create it.

Dustin: That’s great! So it’s more of like they can come one or a couple of times like lower price and they can just, “Hey help me get over this.” and they can come to you and help them out. That’s awesome!

Jessie: Yeah it’s about, I think it’s about $150 an hour and some things take longer than others. So if you want an hour just to pick our brains about anything. About what’s it going to be like when I get there or what things should you bring that’s not on the California website but, I you sort of want to just pick on any of our tutors’ brain about anything, you can do that by the hour.

And so that’s $150 per hour. During a solid thorough essay review takes 2 hours. It takes a long time. Not only do we have to get familiar with the question that you’re writing an essay on, but then we have to look at your answer. We’re going to need to look at the sample answer so what people do is they look at the California bar, and they pick one of those questions and they will send us the question that they answered and they will send us the sample answer in the California bar supplies and then they will send us their written answer.

And then we also, we do the essay ourselves, so it takes a lot of time to do all of that and then to go over your essay very very thoroughly to see what’s going on and then to give you very very detailed feedback about what you’re doing that’s good and what you’re doing that is not good and how to improve. Because that is frustrating when you’re told by your general bar exam person, your grader, when your told, “Hey, need more analysis.” “Need better analysis.” that pisses me off because that’s wonderful and how is what I wrote not analysis.

Everybody thinks that they’re doing it right. So it’s not he what that I need, it’s the how that I need. And you’re not providing me with the freaking how. So frustrating so, what we do is we give you the how and we do this for the written portion of the exam so the essays and the PTs. The PTs take 3 hours. They are beasts, it takes a long time. So we go ahead and do that in 3 hours. You’ll see that it takes 3 hours, at least. We only charge 3 hours for the PTs and we only charge 2 hours for the essays even if it takes as longer. Often times it takes as longer.

Dustin: That’s awesome! You guy’s really break your back for it and really really get in there to help them out. That’s great! So you guys also have discount for my people, is this correct?

Jessie: Yeah, we do. We are offering a 20% discount off of your first order and all you have to do is to mention Dustin and mention this webnar or mention Dustin’s book. And Dustin’s book, for those who are not already aware of this, is The 7 Steps To Bar Exam Success. So if you mention any of those 3 things we’ll go ahead and give you the 20% discount off of your first order.

Dustin: That’s awesome! And I’ll have a link that I’ll announce here shortly and also on the blog that goes straight to that page where they can order from you guys or contact you for more information.

Jessie: That sounds great. Thank you!

Dustin: Cool, Jessie! Well, fantastic tips! Than you for coming on and being your authentic self in revealing what you went through and I’m sure the listeners really appreciate it.

Jessie: Well it’s my pleasure. I would love for people to learn from my mistakes, better than learning from they’re own skin. It’s so much better to learn that way.

Dustin: Yes that’s true. Well thanks again for coming on and we will talk to you later.

Jessie: Okay. Thank you, Dustin, Take care.

Dustin: You too. Bye-bye.

Jessie: Bye-bye.

Dustin: Alright, there you go and that was Jessie Zaylia. You can head on over to her blog. I made a quick link for you just click on IPassedMyBarExam.com/CBX and you can go ahead and check out her tutoring program that she has. Also, mention the word Dustin to get your 20% discount. Also, head on to IPassedMyBarExam.com/12Keys and get your free 12 Keys pdf to passing your bar exam. So that being said, thank you for listening. Go out there and get them this week. And remember that you’re all bar exam passers and that your name appears on the pass list.




Pass or Fail the Bar Exam? The First 3 things to do with HappyGoLegal.com Chelsea Callanan Podcast (Episode 017)

Chelsea Callanan from HappyGoLegal.com helps law students and lawyers create successful and sustainable career paths.  In this episode, she shares the First 3 things to do if you fail the bar exam and the First 3 things to do when passing the bar.

You can also sign up for Chelsea’s 30 Days Goal Challenge and Right Path Laser Assessment to help you get on a path of sustainable success for your career.

To determine how you can balance life and law, take the Law Fit Assessment.  This program is also included in Chelsea’s coaching program.

Here are Chelsea’s tips on getting onto an informational interview.  You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Podcast, and her blog.

Here is a full transcript of this interview:

Intro: You’re listening to the IPassedMyBarExam.com podcast. Helping you pass your bar exam with ease and confidence, episode number 17.

Dustin: Hello and welcome, future bar exam passers to today’s episode. Thank you for coming on and listening today. This is Dustin Saiidi, founder of IPassedMyBarExam.com and author of the amazon bestseller The 7 Steps to Bar Exam Success. As you probably guessed, we have another special guest.

Today we will be speaking to an attorney who helps lawyers and law students create sustainable and successful career paths for themselves, her name is Chelsea Callanan, and she is the founder of HappyGoLegal.com. And today she’ll tell us what are the first 3 things you should do if you fail the bar exam and what are the first 3 things you should do if you pass the bar exam. So pass or fail, what are the first 3 things you should do to move forward in your legal career and legal path. So without further adieu, let’s go straight into the interview so we can hear the wise words of Chelsea Callanan from HappyGoLegal.com.

Hi Chelsea, how are you doing today?

Chelsea: I’m doing really well, thank you for having me. I’m so excited to share some information with your audience.

Dustin: And I’m excited to hear it. I got a little preview before hand of what we are talking about and I’m excited because these are some tips that I definitely could have used during my bar exam.

Chelsea: Awesome!

Dustin: So, tell the listeners a little bit about yourself, how you got to be where you’re at and some of your background before we go into the tips.

Chelsea: Sure! So, I live in Portland, Maine. I split my day and my week between a bunch of different exciting projects, one of which is that I still practice law. My husband and I have our own law firm, Opticliff Law, and we work with start-up and growth phase companies which is really exciting.

And I also have kind of an entrepreneurial side to me where a couple of years ago I won a business plan competition and it just gave me the bug of wanting to create and start businesses, and so kind of got me thinking about how can I marry some of my interests. Some of the things that I really enjoy doing is helping people.

I started connecting with a lot of coaches who work with different entrepreneurs and people who are supporting my legal clients, and realized that what I want to do, at least part of the time is that to coach lawyers and law students. I definitely didn’t always have a great balance in my career, and for the first several years of my career was bouncing from firm to firm without really knowing what it was that I wanted when I was making a change.

I don’t know if that’s ever happened to anybody listening, but just kind of looking for the grass to be greener but not really knowing what I was looking for. And working with a coach really started to change my life and how I was thinking about the direction of my career. And so being a type A personality, as many lawyers are, instead of just continuing to work with a coach I decided to become trained as a coach and bring that skill and resource to law students and lawyers; and so was born HappyGoLegal. And so now, I split my time between creating resources for lawyers and law students to help them get on their path, practicing law with my clients, and having my hands in a couple other exciting little projects.

Dustin: That’s awesome! Like myself, entrepreneurial  minds we like to do different things. But it sounds like you kind of created a nice space and following with yourself on those specific areas, so that’s really great.

Chelsea: Yeah, yeah. It’s working out really great so far.

Dustin: So now, in terms of your experience with the bar exam yourself, and then also the lawyers and the law students that you coach, you probably dealt with people who did not pass the bar exam. So let’s go on to the 3 things that they should do once they find out they don’t pass the bar exam. What are the first 3 things that they should do for themselves?

Chelsea: Yeah, so this is a tough one and it’s good, let’s just deal with the bad news first. So if you find out that you fail the exam, the first thing that I would really suggest is actually dealing with it emotionally.

That’s not something that we, as lawyers, really typically think of – is that this is basically a pretty big loss in your life, something that you really worked hard for, set aside time, maybe took out loans to be able to do. It’s good to honor that and have a little bit of grieving time.

What I would definitely suggest not doing is letting that expand into a bender or a pity party. But you know, for a good solid week, if you feel crammy just let it okay to feel crammy. Something else to consider during that week is you probably don’t want to make any big rush life decisions about whether or not you want to take the bar exam again, whether you want to throw in the towel and become a baker. So, just giving yourself that week of emotional buffer to really honor what you’ve gone through. And that just because you fail does not mean that you’re going to be a failure as a lawyer, it just means one particular test didn’t got that well for you.

Dustin: I like that. You’re right, we’re not really taught to deal with our emotions and especially lawyers, generally in society, but especially lawyers. It’s a part of who we are. I like that, just to honor the emotion of it and not make ourselves feel wrong or bad about being upset. And I think that helps with the healing process to go through and then we can think with more clarity moving forward, so I like that a lot.

Chelsea: Yeah, and then I would suggest shifting from dealing with it emotionally to dealing with it practically. You know, this has a very real impact on your life.

If you had accepted a job offer, you got to sit down and have a really tough conversation with the employer that you were planning on working with as a licensed lawyer.

Your offer may have been conditional upon passing the bar exam or they may be only able to take you on at a paralegal rate for pay if you’re not licensed because you can’t do full work. So you’re going to really sit down and have that conversation. And from my perspective, your employer is going to be looking at the passage rates and the list that goes up on the board of bar examiners site as well, and so don’t put this off.

Even if you’re still not quite emotionally over of what’s going on, you’re going to have to call them. They’re going to go on and see that your name isn’t on there and feel pretty crammy if you don’t call them for two weeks, and feel like they don’t know what to do. So dealing with that, if you have a job lined up, is going to be a hard conversation but one that you’ve got to do right away.

And then on the flip side, if you’re getting kind of a double whammy of you know, you didn’t pass the bar and you don’t have a job lined up, this is going to be a very big time of introspection for you of what it is that you want to do because for better or worse the word is your oyster. So you know, does this impact what type of job you want to consider?

There may be some practical reasons why you need to consider a different type of job that doesn’t require having a law degree or having pass the bar. So, short term, can you afford to just study for the exam again or do you need to find a job? Long term, does this make you re-thinking whether you want to be a lawyer, and it’s totally fine if it does.

Again, avoiding that knee-jerk reaction of, “This didn’t work out so I’m going to do something else.” But really thinking about, “Maybe part of the reason I failed was because I don’t actually want to be a lawyer.” Maybe. I’ve definitely talked to people who, when they failed felt kind of a relief come over them because they didn’t actually want to be a lawyer and dealing with that. And if you are on the job hunt and you didn’t pass you know, again, for better or worse you have a lot of time in your hands. So, really taking some time to think about what does this mean for the impact of your career plan. And getting some structure in place around what it is you actually want to do.

Dustin: That’s right. Sometimes it can be a blessing in disguise to not pass because like you said, if you got this kind of relief feeling when you log-in you’re like, “Oh I didn’t pass, I don’t have to practice law.” Then there’s nothing wrong with that. I know it’s hard because I practice law right now but it’s on a part-time basis.

But it’s hard to deal with going through law school and even passing the bar and then telling people, “Hey I don’t actually want to practice law.” And a lot of people will give you a flack for that, and you don’t really maybe know how to handle that but you got to go where your heart tells you to go. And if it’s saying, you feel relived you don’t have to practice law or you didn’t pass then, you kind of want to listen to that and see where it guides you in that way.

Chelsea: Absolutely! And you know, there’s no shame in considering alternative job, careers, or you know, different ways that you can use your degree. And at the end of our interview today, I’ll make sure to list off some resources that I would suggest if you’re in this category.

Dustin: Yeah that would be great. Yeah, a lot of these are very practical and useful regardless, you can use it in many many different areas. You don’t need to be necessarily licensed to use your law degree. So that’s great.

Chelsea: Absolutely! So then the third thing that I would suggest is you know, figuring out what went wrong because there’s that kind of a fork in the road of “I failed, do I want to take the exam again or do I not want to?” And I think, instead of just flipping a coin in deciding, really thinking about what went wrong can be so helpful for you in the long run. You know, maybe you just didn’t have an environment set-up to support you in studying successfully. Maybe you are studying in a house hold with 5 kids running around, maybe that’s actually a factor of why you didn’t pass.

It could be that you didn’t have the study skills, you didn’t put the time aside, maybe the bar prep course that you took was not a good fit for your personality or learning style, maybe you had complete jitters and have like a day of freak out. All of those reasons are good reasons to think about, “Okay what’s the source of that?” If it’s just environmental, if you just think your learning style wasn’t supported, maybe it is worth taking the exam again and correcting that. But if you just sign-up to take the exam again, and you haven’t really figured out what went wrong and do it again, your likelihood of succeeding the second time aren’t that much higher.

And then as we just talked about, is one of the reasons that you failed, is you didn’t really want to be a lawyer. You know, our psyche does actually speak to us. This can be a major factor if you don’t believe in what you’re doing then there’s a high likelihood that, that can come through in the results of your exam. So really thinking about what went wrong, if you kind of get into the bottom of that and think that, “You know, I still do want to take the exam. I still have career goals that require me being licensed.” Then making sure that you’re supporting yourself with some new resources. You know, tweaking your plan so that the next time, hopefully, you’ll be more successful.

Dustin: Yeah, I like that one especially, like if you don’t know – what I had to do when I was taking the bar, I could feel it inside that I needed something big to pull me towards wanting to pass. And so I sat down, actually wrote down, why do I actually want to pass the bar exam because I didn’t want necessarily to practice law at that time so that was hard for me.

That pull, that internal pull to push me, to help me pass the bar exam; I had to answer that question. So, when I sat down and wrote it finally, my reason was that the bar exam results would come out the day before we would walk for our graduation ceremony and also the day before my brother’s graduation and I thought, “Wouldn’t it be just a great weekend for my Mom, who’s really put in so much effort into us and especially helping me with the bar, if the same weekend I pass the bar, I graduate, and it’s my brother’s birthday, all in the same weekend.

And I thought it would be very special to our family. So that was my big reason. It wasn’t even to practice law but it’s a big reason, it was outside of myself. So I think its a huge huge thing that people should answer is, “Why do they want to pass the bar exam?”

Chelsea: Yeah, absolutely. That motivation is so critical because even if it is outside of your long-term career goals, tying something positive to that result goes a long way for actually creating that result.

Dustin: Right, and you mention some other things too. How do they know, maybe they don’t know necessarily, what went wrong. Maybe there’s things in their environment or their bar prep program or the time or something that may have caused their downfall, but they’re not very conscious of it. How do they kind of become aware that, “Hey, this really did cause this for me, and how do I correct that?”

Chelsea: Yeah, well one resource that I would suggest that people check-out, and I think you’ve interviewed Lee Burgess, is bar exam tools. They have some great tools to look through, and some great blog post of thinking about what happened and what went wrong. Also you know, it’s really, sometimes just about sitting down and doing some thinking because if you really assess your environment you know, kind of go into it as like a crime mystery of like, “What went wrong?”

Sometimes in our day-to-day we completely ignore things that are so obvious. You may just be completely glossing over the fact that every time you are trying to study you got interrupted, there could be very apparent things. Even asking friends and family like, “Looking at me during my studying process, was there anything that jumped out to you as surprising that I was doing?”

You know, just being open to really thinking things through. When it comes down to it, you can read 1,500 blog posts and if you’re not actually thinking about what you did, it’s not going to be bringing those glaring obvious things out. Of course, if you get through that assessment and you don’t see anything glaring then it’s just looking at what other resources could be a benefit and that’s you know, tapping into resources you create and bar exam tools.

And there’s a host of new options for actual bar review prep. It’s not just a one company game anymore. There’s lots of different options and maybe you’re more of a vision learner. Just thinking about what it is that you have succeeded with in the past, like, I know I have been studying all through high school, college and law school; I was a notes card person.

I never outlined. I’m a very visual person, I need that note card with everything written down. And sometimes when we’re getting to the point of studying for the bar, we assume we should just do what works for everybody else but sometimes, you really just have to do what you know and your gut works for you. And so if you can kind of look back and think, “I totally abandoned my traditional studying pattern of X for whatever the company I hired said I should do, and maybe I shouldn’t have. And so really thinking of what works for you in the past, and looking for those glaring kind of red flags that you just may have just ignore during the crunch time.

Dustin: Yeah, that’s great. And those are some things that we don’t always think about. That’s one of the things I talk about in my book The 7 Steps to Bar Exam Success and one of them is environment as well. There’s a lot of things that are set-up in our environment which we don’t think twice about that end up to causing us to suffer, and sometimes it’s just a layout of the room or we have so much clutter around our desks that cause that extra stress and anxiety, and removes our clarity of mind. So yeah, those are all great self-assessment things to look at.

Chelsea: Awesome! And as people are going through, if this was your reality, and you’re looking at needing to make some of these big decisions and do some of the self assessment, I’ve actually created a 30 day e-course called The 30 Days Goals Challenge and it basically walks through a lot of these questions that are hard to force to yourself to do on your own.

Some questions about the environment, the resources and skills, your motivation for why you want to do this, and so it might be a helpful tool for people who – you know it’s very easy to say, “I don’t know what went wrong.” But if you really put your mind into it and listen to questions that have been created to kind of probe some of that information, it might be a helpful tool which I recommend.

Dustin: That’s awesome! Do you recommend people to take the bar right away as well? Take that week off and then try, and take that the next time around, do you recommend they wait a couple of months or what do you recommend?

Chelsea: You know, it really depends on the person. It really depends, let’s be honest, on their financial situation. If they you can’t afford to jump right back into studying or if you’re going to have to take a job, and that means you’re not going to be able to study properly and dedicate the time it takes.

It really comes down to you know, I think psychologically, the benefit of just getting it over with the next time is much better. If you can just sign-up, learn from your mistakes, get into a new program, get into new habits, you know zap those tolerations or those environmental problems whatever it was that you kind of assessed was a mistake.

But getting it over with, is going to be in the long run, much much better. But you might not be able to financially do that, and just creating a plan that’s going to work for you and it’s going to be very unique is what’s really important.

Dustin: Awesome! Let’s go into the good news, if people pass the bar exam what are the first 3 things they should do when they find out they pass?

Chelsea: Yey! Well, even before you jump into the 3 things, what you should do is celebrate! As lawyers and as very serious responsible adults sometimes we forget that it’s okay to celebrate and be happy as well, just like it’s okay to grieve and be bombed. You know, this is a very major and intensive goal, and focus of your entire life for months. So, taking a small break and then shifting into putting yourself on a course for success.

So the first thing I would suggest, just like self-assessment was helpful if you failed, it’s really helpful if you pass. What is it that you really want to do? You might be in a position where you have a job lined-up, and doing some self-assessment can be really helpful to really think about what it is that you want your day-to-day to look like. What do you want some boundaries to be at work? You’ve just been in a complete vacuum most likely of studying for 2 to 3 months, and you may be completely willing to throw yourself into a job where you have no boundaries but that may not be actually healthy in the long run. So really thinking about what it is, looking at your calendar, what do you want to come back into your life if you’ve already taken it out for a while.

Maybe you haven’t been getting to yoga class because you were studying so much. Well, as you started looking at your day-to-day in your new job, what do you actually want to be part of your life? And doing a little bit of pre-planning is really helpful. And if you’re in the position where you pass the bar exam, but you do not have a job lined up, then some self-assessment is going to be really important for you. Okay, one hurdle down and now getting a plan in place to keep that job search motivation going.

Dustin: Awesome! Yeah, I think a lot of people are actually, if they don’t have the job they feel the stress like, “Oh, what am I going to do for work?” But I think it’s a very beautiful and valuable time because you can create what it is that you want. You have no restrictions right now, you can create what it is that you want. So, how do you recommend people deal with – goes to that self-assessment, after they find out they passed?

Chelsea: Well, in the same way that the 30 Day Goals Challenge works for people who have had that failure. The 30 Day Goals Challenge is actually really helpful for just setting goals. You know, some of us don’t really think about the fact that, achieving work-life balance is a goal, just the same as getting more clients is a goal. And a lot of times people get caught in the cycle of you know, I can look back to many New Year’s Eves where I have all of these great ideas of the goals I wanted to have over the course of the year. And then I would hit this cycles of maybe hitting a challenge or forgetting about my goal or my resolution for a short period of time, and then getting frustrated, and then maybe abandoning it and doing something else.

So you get into a cycle where hurdles and challenges kind of knock you off course, and so something like the 30 Days Goals Challenge or something like kind of motivates you on going, helps you overcome those challenges and be even prepared for them to come up. And so as you’re thinking about what you want your day-to-day to be, whether you have a job lined up or not.

Kind of getting those questions asked to you to keep you moving can be really helpful. Also, there are so many great books that you can read about goal setting and how to be more efficient at work. And you know, kind of being a sponge at the beginning of your career and really just looking at what is it that I want my life to be like. Listening to what’s working for other people, reading books.

You know, both you and I straddle the world of lawyers and entrepreneurs, and entrepreneurs are much much more open to setting goals and seeking professional development than most lawyers are. And I think that’s something we could really learn from entrepreneurs. You know, not only doing the education that we need for CLE credit but also doing some kind of personal development and professional development and on going learning.

Dustin: Yeah, getting good at developing one’s self and defining the clarity of where we want to go as oppose to just jumping straight into a job because we’re only as good as lawyers as we are as good a people. Our business and our job is merely an extension of us so, I like that. The better you are as a person the better lawyer you’re going to be as well. Cool, what’s the second thing?

Chelsea: So the second thing is – the first one is kind of thinking about what you want your day-today to be like, the second thing is where you want to work because you may have a job lined-up and it may be your perfect ideal job, but it may not be. It may be what you took to pay the bills when you graduate, but you also may be in a position where you’re still looking.

And what I would suggest is really basically going on a listening-tour, is what I call it, of informational interviews; talking to people in different fields and practice areas, different job settings. Because even if you have a job, it’s great to make this connections for networking but just using the informational interview as tool to learn more about your profession, about people who inspire you, maybe about people who are miserable that you want to avoid going down that same path as them.

People in our industry are how we make money and they’re also our biggest resource to know where we want to go in our career. And so if you’re just throwing yourself from studying intensively into just working at your desk intensively, you’re missing that big component of people that really drives where you want to go. And so, I would suggest using tools, including people, to figure out really what it is that you want to do. What’s a good match for you, and then kind of on going just being really open to listening to people and doing informational interviews even if you’re not in a job search, just to connect with people who are in your industry.

Dustin: How would I go about doing informational interview? Let’s say, I just passed, I’m at home and I want to do some informational interviews at different places. How can I go about doing that?

Chelsea: Yeah. Well, I have actually a pretty nice little post on how, kind of some of the logistics that you don’t think about, of how to set-up an informational interview. You can definitely link to that for people. But in general, what you’re just trying to do is create a sit-down or a phone call with some expectations and so you could – the first thing is to figure out who you want to talk to.

And you can use LinkedIn, you can research different firms where you want to meet somebody or different practice areas, use your State Bar Association maybe the new lawyer section has a list of people and where they work, or your alumni department at your law school.

And just starting to find some people who you want to reach out to, and then it’s just about giving them a call or shooting them an email and being clear what your expectations are, just to say, “Hey, I’m a brand new lawyer.” Either, “I’m looking for what practice area’s going to be a good fit for me.” if you’re still at a job search. Or “I’m just starting at this firm, working at this area. Just looking to connect with other people in the area or in the industry.” Just being really clear so that they know you’re not pushing them for a job offer because that definitely turns people off.

And just as you go in to that meeting, having a clear ask of them, “I chose you, and I really want to sit down and talk to you because X. Because you just have this great settlement, and you’re such a young lawyer. And I just want to hear how you’ve risen up the rank so quickly.” You know, playing the people’s ego a little bit never hurts to get them talking. And so really thinking about a genuine reason why you want to meet this person and then continuing that conversation after that initial coffee or chat.

Dustin: Cool, perfect! I love it. I imagine joining bar associations and networking too, could open up a lot of doors.

Chelsea: Absolutely!

Dustin: Awesome! So what’s number 3?

Chelsea: Well, number 3 is also a people tasks so for any introvert out there this may feel like a big challenge. But you know, you’re doing informational interviews, you’re looking for people who inspire you and one of those persons, you’re going to want to find a mentor. It doesn’t have to be formal. Maybe in your law firm, if you’ve gotten a job, there’s a formal rotation or mentor assignment. And that may be all well and good.

What you want to find is someone in your area, it doesn’t have to be locally; it can be your practice area, it could be geographically close. You want to find someone who really inspires you and resonates with you. Someone who you can be really honest with, and so sometimes that means maybe it shouldn’t be someone in your firm, and you can make that judgment call. But someone who you can just go to, of like, “Hey, my work-life balance is way out of whack. How do you handle having 2 kids and you know, managing your practice?” You need to have someone to ask those questions to.

Who you can trust and feel like it’s not going to negatively affect you. And so, part of the reason why I dubbed hailed tip 2 and tip 3 is because someone out of your informational interviews may turn into someone that you really trust and want to talk to, and have that on-going relationship really expand into what feels a little bit more like a mentor relationship. And a mentor doesn’t have to be a 30 year practicing lawyer.

A mentor could be someone who graduated last year, who you admire and has some of the skills that professionally that you want to acquire or the balance that you want to have. It’s just finding someone who you can navigate your career path through, who’s got a little more experience than you do.

Dustin: That’s great. I know when I graduated I kind of went on my own for a little bit, and the legal world is a whole different world than bar exam and law school because, especially if you don’t have that mentor – that support structure. You’re thrown in to the big fishes right away, there’s no learning curve really there.

If you step out there, you’ll go up against lawyers who’ve been there for quite a while. If they’ll know you’re new, I think a lot of them will be excited and come after you, rather than trying to help you if they’re on the opposing side. So I think, mentorship would have helped me big time because I made a lot of mistakes and went through a lot of stressful times that first year. So that’s a great idea. Do you provide mentoring services for people?

Chelsea: I don’t provide mentoring. I do some one-on-one coaching for people. But mentor relationships typically need to be pretty organic. There are master minds and different group coaching programs that exists, but typically the most successful mentor relationship will be something that happens really organically. Maybe it is within your office or your firm, where a senior associate really seems like they’ve got it all together and you could really trust them.

That’s going to be a much more valuable relationship than paying someone to listen as a coach or as a consultant in any way. But there definitely are resources. If you’re feeling like you’re struggling, you’re alone, you’re in the wrong practice area like, “Oh my God, I wake-up everyday and hate my job.” Of course you’re not going to want to talk about that with someone who’s in your office if you’re not ready to make that leap yet.

So there are definitely a lot of resources. One thing that I would suggest, kind of pairs a little bit of coaching, a dose of coaching with a great resource that I found to be very successful for my coaching clients. If you’re at a point where you’re searching but are not sure where to go or if you’re in a position and just feeling like it’s not the right fit but you’re not sure why, there’s a career assessment tool called the Law Fit Assessment that has been created by some lawyers and industrial psychologist. And it is a spot-on assessment of helping you to identify the practice areas that would be kind of in-line with your strengths and interests, and also office settings that would be in-line with how you like to work. And what’s really interesting about this is, if you’re in the job search process and you’re like, “Okay, well I should do some informational interviews.”

This can actually help you pin down, if you’re not sure, what practice area you should be focusing on. So you might be thinking, “Oh there’s these 50 people I could talk to but they suggest that real estate in an in-house setting would be my strongest match, so let me try to find someone like that.” And so it can really help you to hone your search.

It can also help you if you’re in a firm or an office setting that’s not feeling right, it can help you to stay within that position but make some tweaks because maybe you realize through this assessment, just like we ignore somethings that are very obvious to other people, you may realize that you’re in ligation but you hate being contentious.

And gosh, once you see that on the assessment it’s like, “Oh yeah, I don’t like that.” Maybe within your office you can make a shift to another practice area, and so it can be a really great tool. So what I’ve done is paired up the Law Fit Assessment with a half hour Laser Coaching Session in the Right Path Laser Assessment. And if you’re feeling you’re at a point of either in the job search or kind of feeling like things aren’t just feeling quite right but you’re not sure why, that could really boost you in to putting a career plan and place for yourself in a place where it does make sense for you.

Dustin: Cool! Tell us more about that. What exactly do you do with the coaching and what kind of people would it be good for?

Chelsea: So basically, the Law Fit Assessment you know, law students take it all the time, I know they do a lot of marketing with law schools providing it for their schools. And I’ve had some senior partners work with it. I’ve had some 3 and 4 year associates who are at the point of like, “This isn’t the right job. What should I do?” It just asks a lot of questions about your personality strengths, your practice area of interest, how you like to work whether it be a autonomously or with a lot of management, do you like to be in teams or by yourself. So it asks a lot of these questions and then create a pretty robust report that’s probably about 15 pages long.

And so what I do is work with the people who’ve taken the assessment to do a half hour kind of review of what that is over the phone. So it might be helping them to tease out, you know, “Did you ever have interest in to working with a non-profit? Because this is saying that’s a really strong fit for you.” And kind of talking through what that might mean or how that might shift their job search. So anybody who’s in a job search plan or feeling like your job just isn’t quite the right fit but you’re not sure why, without launching into a whole coaching campaign for yourself, this might actually be a good way to kind of re-direct yourself.

And during that half hour, I try to get some next action steps for the person to think about whether it’s having a tough conversation because you have a personality conflict in your office, and that’s really why you hate your job because it’s a good fit otherwise. Or whether it’s saying, “You know, I think you’ve got to start setting a side some time for job a search. How do you feel about that? How are we going to fit that in your life” And so it’s kind of, for some people, a catalyst of considering getting back in to a job search, out of a job that’s not a good fit. And for people who are in a job search, it really helps to focus that search so that you’re not feeling so so overwhelmed.

Dustin: Great, so basically having someone to coach and talk through to give kind of a clarity on where it is that they want to go and the next steps.

Chelsea: Absolutely.

Dustin: Awesome, and how much do you charge for that service?

Chelsea: The 30 Days Goals Challenge, which we talked about just a short while ago, is $90.95. And the Right Fit Laser Assessment is $149.95, and that includes the cost of the assessment and the time for the 30 minute coaching session.

Dustin: Okay, awesome! And tell us a little bit about the 30 Days Goals Challenge. What is that exactly and what kind of people can benefit from it?

Chelsea: Sure. So the 30 Days Goals Challenge is a 30 day e-course. So it goes right into your inbox, and I know that people try to respect their weekend, so it only comes out on the weekdays. And what I try to do is walk through what I think about is the 6 categories that you need to focus on. If you want a successful and sustainable legal career, we can definitely just push you hard to achieve goals. But if you’re really unhappy because you’re out of balance or not working out, this e-course will help you to think abut all of those competing interests in your life.

And so everyday, for 30 days, you get an email coming in to you that kind of gives some background about what challenge we’re looking at today. Whether it be finding skills and resources, or changing your environment, or thinking about your expectations for your goal and helping you avoid that cycle of getting into finding a challenge and then falling off the wagon; so that you can really plow through and expand your goals and have some success. And if you have some failure, it also helps you figure out how to learn from your failure, so that it’s a stepping stone instead of a complete road block.

So trying to help people set goals that are realistic, that are meaningful to them, and then helping them achieve those. And in my experience using it, and the experience I’ve had of people using and sharing their results by email, it can really help you to have a different perspective about where you want to go in your career. So regardless of whether you’re super excited about your career and your job, or needing some more guidance. From law student to 60 year old politician who I’ve worked with, people just find it as a helpful structure. It’s interesting because as lawyers, we all have an inherent inclination for structure.

We all learn how to use highlighters and color code our case briefs the same way. We all learn how to sight check the same way. But then when we get out to thinking about setting and achieving goals in our career, we’re left completely blind. And so, I think the biggest value out of the 30 Days Goals Challenge is it helps to provide a structure that you can apply to any goal. And so that way, you can kind of fall back on it. You know, you take the course once but you get the emails, you go back to them later. Each email is really suggesting about a 5 to 10 minute exercise so it’s not a huge time commitment. You know, getting up in the morning having your coffee, it helps you to create a habit that respects your goals instead of only doing what everybody else thinks you should do.

Dustin: That’s awesome! Cool, I’ll have links to both the coaching and the 30 Days Goals Challenge on the website too.

Chelsea: Awesome. And regardless of whether you find out that you failed or you passed the bar, my hope for you is that you respect yourself enough and are excited enough about your career as a lawyer to want both success and sustainability. You know, the most successful lawyers who go out burning bright right away could totally burn out, and people who are only wanting to be really you know – not lazy but, wanting to be really flexible in their time you may not hit the success that you want. So thinking about those two tracks of always continuing to move forward to be a leader in your field and making sure that you’re not burning out, I think that’s a big challenge especially for new lawyers in today’s day and age.

Dustin: That is awesome! You heard it first from Chelsea Callanan of HappyGoLegal, the success and sustainable coach for lawyers and law students. Thank you so much Chelsea for coming on and sharing your wisdom and your tips with us.

Chesea: Yeah, thank you. I appreciate it! And if people have questions you can definitely find HappyGoLegal on Facebook and Twitter, we have a blog, we have some former podcast recordings, so tap in and see if there’s something that might help you in your own journey.

Dustin: Cool! Well, thanks again and I’ll put the links to all those on the blog post when this podcast will be published, and we will talk to you again in the future at some point.

Chelsea: Awesome! Thank you, Dustin!

Dustin: Alright, thanks Chelsea. Have a good one!

Alright and there you have it from Chelsea Callanan from HappyGoLegal.com, giving you her tips and advice. So go out there and apply those tips this week. Hopefully, you only need to apply what she said on the second half of that podcast and not the first half, but get out there and apply that. If you want to sign -up for Chelsea’s 30 Days Goals Challenge, head on over to IPassedMyBarExam.com/HGL30 and start her 30 Days Goals Challenge. If you want to sign-up for her Laser Fit Assessment coaching, head on over to IPassedMyBarExam.com/HGLFIT. Until then, go out there and go get them this week, do great this week, and be great this week. And I will see you in the next podcast. And always remember that your name appears on the pass list.

5 Bar Exam Tips to Go from Repeater to Passer with the Grand Poobah Podcast (Episode 016)

Today, we go 1-on-1 with the bar exam legend, the Grand Poobah.  He will share the 5 things he did that took him from Bar Exam repeater to Bar exam passer.  Take a listen!


1) Review actual sample answers

2) Study the MBE topics first

3) Focus on Improving the Weak areas

4) Finish Outlining Before Writing Essays

5) Be Very Complete, at least at beginning of essay


6) Don’t neglect a topic you originally passed on prior bar exam

7) Focus on Writing Answers, not reading outlines

8) Write Like a Lawyer


Visit the Grand Poobah’s Blog and send him an email at bllypoobah@gmail.com.

Here is the full transcript:

Intro: You’re listening to the IPassedMyBarExam.com podcast. Helping you pass your bar exam with ease and confidence, episode number 16.

Dustin: Hello and welcome, future bar exam passers! My name is Dustin Saiidi, author of the 7 Steps to Bar Exam Success. And today we’re going to bring someone on the call today who went through a lot of mistakes as he was preparing for the bar exam, and he’s going to tell you what those mistakes were and how you can avoid them. So, this individual actually took the bar exam 10 times, finally passed on his 11th. He’s a well known legend in the bar exam space and he goes by the Grand Poobah. So without further adieu, let’s here what the Grand Poobah has to say about the bar exam.

Alright, hello and welcome to the call! We’re here with Brian Johnston a.k.a. the Grand Poobah, that you may know from bar exam prep who has been kind enough to come on to the call today. And today, Brian is going to share the 5 things that took him from being a repeater into becoming a bar exam passer. He took the bar exam 10 times, didn’t pass. But the 11th time is the charm, he was able to pass. And he’s going to share with us today kind of what happened in that 11th time to make him a passer. So, how are you doing Brian?

Brian: I’m doing well, thanks.

Dustin: Thanks for coming on the call today.

Brian: Sure, Dustin. No problem.

Dustin: If you want to just give a little bit of background about you and kind of your experiences with the bar exam in general, so people get to know who you are.

Brian: Well, most of who I am is already up on the blog. I think I shared most of the publicly available information. I’m a 55 years old, and I went to law school at 45 and graduated on time and then it took me a few years, 5 years I guess, to pass the bar. But prior to going to law school I worked in information technology as a programmer and did technical support for a large memory company in Orange County, and migrated to web design – the old acronym for web master. That’s what I did, I maintained a website. And then as my skills became stagnant, I decided I had to move on to something more lucrative for my future and something that I can do until I’m old and gray, even though I was already old and harshly gray. And so I cashed in before ??? and paid up my bills and went to law school with the hopes of being to now work until my feeble years until I could barely get to court and represent people or do whatever I wanted to do.

So I guess much more flexibility was my thinking, and it would ensure me that type of maintaining a consistent stream of income throughout my life, instead of having to rely on the fickle I.T. Business industry to keep that up.

Dustin: Wow! Well, I admire you for having the courage to take the leap at that point in your life, and then also the discipline and persistence to keep fighting through it until you broke through. So, definitely admired the persistence.

Brian: Yeah, after 2-3 years of trying I had – many people had suggested that I quit or go do something else. I mean if you’re familiar with the blog, you’re familiar with the naysayers on there, and a lot of them suggested I go off and do something else. But at the point I have so much time and money invested in it, it was really not a realistic option to quit. And so, I was almost forced into continuing and I’m really glad I did because I’m extremely satisfied now. Things couldn’t be better, well they will get better, but right now having accomplished this is a hugely satisfying achievement.

Dustin: That’s great! How was it dealing with that, with kind of going through the process of not passing and/or having people telling you, maybe you should give up or quit. How’s that emotionally, how did you deal with that?

Brian: Well, it’s pretty much as what you would expect, it’s a constant torment. I mean, when you talk amongst people – laypeople who hadn’t gone to law school, they don’t really understand. They don’t know what law school’s like and they don’t know what the bar exam is like and they don’t know any of the associative pressures and the things which go along with that. So I kind of write that off because they just didn’t know. But amongst my peers it was tough because there’s a lot of people out there who went to law school and haven’t yet passed the bar, and there’s kind of a threshold where you’re considered reasonably successful for. I guess your smart or something for having gone in to law school and graduated, but until you’ve actually pass the bar you’re kind of like a second class citizen. People are like, “Yeah great, you went to law school.” But in the change in people’s perception, and the way they treat you and talk to you and everything else, after having passed the bar is tremendous.

So the whole time, I was just dealing with the stigma of having gone to law school and graduated but not having passed the bar exam. And most of my friends said it didn’t bother them and they still, I was still their friend. But personally it was tough to include myself amongst them simply because I hadn’t passed yet and it was an achievement that I struggled with, in a stigma if you will. Kind of a scarlet letter that I attach to myself and I wore everyday. And I think I hid it pretty well, the disappointment of not having passed. But man, it was tough. Every single day.

And plus, me starting my blog and having my face up there, going to the bar exam every time people will recognize me. Some people will talk to me and some people will just point and kind of talk to their buddies.So there was a little more pressure because of that as well. It was tough but you just have to log-on, just forget about it and put your head down and keep working, and know that someday you’ll get through it. And that was the attitude that I had. I knew I was smart enough. I knew I know enough about law. I knew I had to keep going and so I did.

Dustin: Awesome! So let’s talk about what are the 5 things that really, you feel that you did differently that time that you passed, that took you from repeater to bar exam passer. What are kind of like the top 5 tips that you give?

Brian: Well the first thing, as I mentioned on the blog, was that I gave up on my manic adherence to the strict direct method. Being a programmer and all, the level of attention to detail that you have to employ in that business to be successful is immense. You have to cover all the options, all the basis, you have to code for all the different possibilities and all the different variable, the way people will input it and the way they come out – that kind of thing. So, when I look at a question I would do the same thing. It’s like, “Okay, I have to consider all the facts, from all different angles, and I have to try and code for them if you will. I have to try to write in them my solution.” And I discovered that after a while I wasn’t able to get nearly enough analysis on the paper because I was so busy trying to include every fact and every possible way it could fit. And I just wasted a lot of time, with a lot of extra words I didn’t need.

So i gave up on the strict direct, and I decided to just kind of wing it, if you will. Because I looked at some of the model answers closely, finally, because I kind of been avoiding them. I was just off to myself, “You know my answers should be good enough. I’m not going to look at someone else’s answer.” But I finally forced myself to, and I notice that they had the issues and the rules and the elements there. Once they got the analysis part, they kind of free-flowed a little bit. They showed a level of comfort with the subject that showed the grader that they knew the material. And I think the ability to write in that casual way while still addressing all the facts and relaying all the rules but not in such a strict way shows that I was comfortable with the material and that I can write about it confidently and competently and in a lawyer-like way, like they say you should.

So that was a big change, that was partly due to the fact that I kind of throw in the towel and say “Screw them. Piss off myself and everything else, I’m just going to write what I think instead of what I think they want to see.”

Dustin: Very interesting. So something that changed, again, for you then was look at that sample model answers and seeing kind of how are they wording it and then that helped you cater your writing style in that manner.

Brian: Yeah, and I also looked at some past answer that hadn’t scored so well. There’s a website or two out there that have a collection of past answers. And looked at the way they wrote, looked at the way the passing answers wrote, and notice the same difference. So in the back of my mind I was thinking, “You know, that’s probably something I should aspire to and I just hadn’t done it, hadn’t been able to do it, hadn’t been able to break free of my background enough to do that.

Dustin: That’s awesome. So I hope all the listeners on the podcast go and look at some sample answers to see exactly what is it that looks good. What is it that’s passing, so that they know what to write. And I know that helped me in my bar exam a lot, when I actually saw an actual 65 passing answer then I saw kind of what it is that people are looking for, what’s really need in order to pass. That really changed the game for me as well.

Brian: Right. And right after, they should pay attention to, right after the issue and the rules stated. The bar obviously puts different styles of answers out there, but one thing I notice was, they don’t write – and in the front of the essay packet they say “Don’t just write the law, so that you understand what you are talking about.” And you see that these people kind of go on a risk. They just start writing about the fact and the rules and it become more casual. And that’s what I noticed, and I hadn’t paid attention before.

Dustin: Okay, awesome! What’s the second thing that you did?

Brian: I started this actually in February, for the February exam of 2012. I started studying my MBE subjects first, and I went through all those and made sure I was comfortable with them and remembered all the rules because the MBEs are 35% of your grade and they’re also roughly half or better of the essays. So I thought that, if I knew the MBE subjects, forward and backward, I would cover most of the material. So I made a conscious effort to get those down first before I move on to the other subjects. And I think that helped because, you know, 3 of the essays or so, are MBE subjects and they’re going to be crossed over on 1 or 2 others. I felt like I did myself a favor by doing that because the information was really ingrained in my brain. Of course it all was by that point, I’ve taken the darn thing 10 times. I thought I knew the rules pretty well but I still wanted to re-enforce those.

Dustin: Right. Brian, you should read my blog in 2011, that’s the exact advice I give is to study the MBE topics first.

Brian: Oh okay, great!

Dustin: Obviously, Brian is not reading my blog but that’s okay. Yeah and I agree because if you study the MBE topics first, let’s say you spend 3 days per topic at least getting that first overview, you’ll hit all the MBE topics and about half your essays within the first 3 weeks. So the first 3 weeks you’re almost quote&quote, I don’t want to say half way done or whatever because again you’ll review them over and over, but you have seen about half the materials in the first 3 weeks which is fantastic. So I agree completely with that advice. What’s your third thing that you did?

Brian: Let’s see, I decided to forego studying, well not forego, but I decided not focus or not to study my strong subjects – the subjects I consider my strong ones, so much. And focus on the ones that I feel like I can improve on, and for me that was Civ Pro, and Con Law, and Real Property, and 1 or 2 others. With the thought that I wasn’t going to prove a lot on my strong subjects. I mean, I knew them pretty well and I always score reasonably well, and then of course within the realm of scores that I got were not all that impressive. But I felt like there’s a little room for improvement there, but the subject that I kind of felt I was average in or I felt you know, middle and comfortable, I wanted to get comfortable with those.

So I studied those a lot and I pretty much gave up on the ones I was weak on, I figured you know, the heck with it. I’ve been studying this things for 5 years and I’ve never improved those. So I’m just going to wing it on the bar exam when I get there. So I studied primarily, the subjects that I felt like I could improve on and just consign to the dust bin, if you will, the subject that I knew I was going to do poorly on. And hoped that I could bring my other scores up sufficiently to cover for those.

Dustin: Oh, okay. So when you took the bar, did you find a lot of those topics, like what are the topics did you get? Did you find the ones that you were strong at or the ones that you really didn’t know?

Brian: Well you know, I always complain about Civ Pro and I always say that I really didn’t like Civ Pro; one of my least favorite subject and probably is still is, but I worked hard on that. And then, in this last exam, we had a situation where there was a Canadian corporation doing business in one state only, and these people got injured in a car accident and there was a subject manager takes in personal jurisdiction. And I knew the rules for alien corporations, and I thought when I saw that and I started writing, rules just bubbled out from my brain from what I had just studied over the last few weeks. I was actually happy, I was smiling on myself on that exam. And I was thinking that, “Wow, this is a Civ Pro exam and I’m liking it. And I actually think I’m doing well, this is bizarre.” So it really worked, it worked pretty well for me.

Dustin: Okay, cool! Alright, what’s your fourth thing that you did?

Brian: I outlined completely on my laptop before I started writing. In the past I had  – you know, everybody always says, outline in your laptop or somewhere but complete your outline and outline the essay from there. But in the past I started my outline, and then I had written the rules, and then kind of filled in a couple of facts so I wouldn’t forget. And then pretty soon, 24 and a half minutes later, I find that I’m still filling in some facts and I actually find myself writing a little bit of analysis and then almost half way through the essay, I really don’t have anything concrete on the paper, if you will. So this time, I force myself to complete my outline on my laptop and then go back there and check it.

The one thing that I did was, especially on that Crim Law that we had where the guy had killed that lady – or it was Evidence, yeah it was Evidence. And they were bringing in the married confidentiality privileged and the married communication privilege. The first time through I put both those in the first call. And then having gone through my outline again before I started writing, I realized that the confidentiality privilege was in the second call and the testimonial privilege was in the first call, so that enabled me to straighten up my outline before I started writing so I didn’t find myself halfway through struggling to figure out what I had to re-arrange and where I had to put something and such a way, loose my train of thought. That helped a lot. And on that one and on the Criminal Law one where the guy had the gun, that one as well, it helped a lot. Criminal Procedure that one was, Criminal Law or Crim Pro.

Dustin: Was the fact that you completed the outline that helped a lot or was it the fact that you wrote it in your laptop or a mix of both?

Brian: The fact that I completed it. I would first, try and write it on paper. In the years passed I would try to write it on paper and then copy that on my laptop. This time I just did it on my laptop right off the bat. I’ve never had a laptop failure in the bar exam but I was warned against that. What happens if your laptop fails, you don’t have your outline, and it’s not some place where you can use it. But I decided to roll the dice and you know, it wasn’t that big of a risk, because I’ve never had a failure. Knocking on wood it wouldn’t happen again.

And so I outlined completely on the laptop, and I finished my outline and made sure that I gotten through all the facts and all the fact pattern and gotten the issues I wanted to get and then after I completed it, then I started writing. That was something I hadn’t done before. Seems obvious but I hadn’t done it.

Dustin: Okay, awesome! And what’s your fifth thing?

Brian: I decided to – most of the thing that I was taught very recently, to start really strong on the first page because the grader is going to look at the first page. And they’re going to get an overall information of your essay based on that. And then that overall impression will carry on to the rest of the essays, so really I focused on being very comprehensive and complete in my analysis on the first page and the first issue and then, I kind of went in to automatic mode for the rest of it. And then when about 10 minutes to go, I slowed down and I went back and reviewed everything I had written. Made sure I completed every issue, completed every analysis, I come into a conclusion, did my spell check and everything else and basically closed up properly, make sure I could finish.

So that was a logical way to proceed through the fact pattern that I had employed before, it helped me organized and stay tracked of time. And I think it presented a better picture of what I was writing to the grader, at least I hope it did. I hope my writing improved on this thing and it wasn’t just an MBE score of a 180 that got me by, but that was it. And I also continued to focus throughout on my MBEs. I never let them slide, I kept upon those even though I have a historically high MBE score, relative to everyone who had their MBE score back. I made sure I kept up on those, maintained my skills at there.

Dustin: Okay. So you didn’t – sometimes people, when they fail the first time, the second time they’ll say, “Oh I passed the MBEs but I failed the essays, so I’m only going to do the essays.” or vice versa. So you’re saying to keep up to both of them. Don’t just let one hang and go for the other one.

Brian: Right. And I always thought that was a little risky, and that’s one reason I never skipped an exam. I didn’t want my skills on anything to diminish, I want to maintain the good performance that I have always had. And over the years my MBE scores gradually gone from a low of 123, the first time it was 128, then it was 123 and then it gradually went up and up and up. In February 2012 I got a 149 and a raw MBE score. And I wouldn’t be surprised, and I say this with all humility if that’s all possible, that I wouldn’t be surprised if my MBE scores is closer to 160 this time than it was 150 because I felt like they were very easy. I felt that way before and hadn’t gotten negative scores so, I could be wrong but, I feel like I improved on those so even if I didn’t improve dramatically on my essays and my PTs I felt like I maintained my MBE score. And if I improved that then that might have, well obviously, the combined scores were enough to pass. I don’t know if they were but I still wanted to maintain may MBE skill.

Dustin: I got you. Brian did you ever take a bar prep program at some point?

Brain: Yeah. You know, I’ve taken a number of them. Right in to law school, I was the bar re-lec in our school for my class so I sat through bar re-lectures and I’ve taken a number more over the years. I could recall a few of them but I never felt like I got that much out of them because the tutors or the people who run the programs, I find that typically they just stood in front of the class – in front of the class they were teaching. And most of them lectured from an outline, some of them didn’t take questions. It was basically a re-hash of what we had in law school, professor up there teaching the law. And we had a pretty good grasp of the law at that time, and I would go to the classes and sit there and wonder what I was doing there and what I was learning because I knew everything they were saying. You know, I can follow through on my outline and read, and it was like kind of “Duh, that’s kind of obvious.” Burglary is still a burglary, a murder is still a murder, and homicide is what it is, and manslaughter and whatnot. There wasn’t so much value added to most of them over the years until recently.

Dustin: Did the time that you pass the bar exam which was by the way, this past summer, so again congratulations. Did you do any bar prep or specifically for that time as well or no?

Brian: Yeah. You know, to name names, I used Jason Tolerico’s program. I used him primarily when I started for the February 2012 exam. And I studied a lot starting in December all the way through the exam on that one, and I felt like I rebuilt my foundation; that same foundation I had in law school, when I got in law school, of the material. And then after I failed in February 2012, I didn’t work so much in memorizing. I worked more on my writing, well in fact, I didn’t work nearly as hard as I had before. I try to get more work – work done, more paying more done. But yeah, I used a tutor for the whole last year and I think he was instrumental in my passing because of his philosophy and his attitude and the way he taught how to approach this things and to break them down and attack them and be comfortable with them.

Dustin: You mentioned something too, you’ve said you worked more in your writing not your memorizing, can you clarify more on that too?

Brian: Yeah you know, I’m sure everybody knows, you go through an outline for the hundredth time and it’s de javu all over again. And its’ an outline, it’s what we learn in law school, and you can only get so much out of it through repetition. I mean, yeah it helps to refresh the rules in your brain for each bar exam, but there’s only so much benefit you can get from that. I mean, after a while the rules just pop into your head. So after going through a few outlines, this time I realized that I was wasting my time or at least it wasn’t the best use of my time. So that’s when I started to look at the released answers and a properly constructed passing answer. I think that was where I was really trying to figure out what the heck it is that I was doing wrong. And why my really nice IRAC answers were not given good scores, and try to compare the two and figure out what a passing answer look like. So I was working on my writing, trying to modify my writing style to match the passing answers.

Dustin: Wonderful! That is a wonderful tip! So the 5 that I have here, again; kind of improving the writing, looking at some model answers was the first one. Starting at the MBE topics first was the second one. Focusing on where you can improve was the third one. Fourth one was completing your outline and if necessary doing that in your laptop. And then fifth was really giving a good impression to that grader on that first page so, I think you’re right, they do form a snap judgment based on what they see on that first page and how they’re going to grade it.

Brian: And I try to carry that over to the performance exams too because I always felt like I’ve done decently on those. I’ve never really gotten – well, I got the occasional 65, mostly it was 60s and 55s on those. And this time I kind of carried over my – the damn torpedo is full speed ahead, you know, kind of casual attitude on the PTs as well. And prior to this exam, I had a bad habit of copying a lot of material from the library into my answer which wasted a lot of time. This time I didn’t do that and I just work more on analysis. And I also attacked the library first instead of the file, and I think that might have helped me as well.

Dustin: Very good! Awesome, great tips! Do you have anything else, any other bonus that you want to mention to help law students pass the bar exam?

Brian: I would just say that everyone who graduates law school knows enough law to pass the bar exam and I think the stress of the situation causes people to kind of get out of their comfort zone. I don’t know if you remember those old football games, those little oy games where you put all of this men in the table. You turn them on and it vibrates and it kind of move around, and then one guy touches another and it’s like, “I gotcha!” I felt like my brain was kind of that way when I sat for the bar exam. I would stress a little, I would ramp-up, and I would loose focus and I would be unable to write like I feel like I can write or when I practiced. So you know, calming down, having the confidence level to know that you can pass this thing, and not worrying so much about what the grader is going to think of it but just writing comfortably. Writing like you know what you’re talking about. And I keep going back to that blur right in front of the essay packet that says, “They’re looking for a lawyer-like analysis.” And so talk like a lawyer and write like you’re comfortable with the material and I think that’s a big key.

Dustin: Awesome! Fantastic, I love it! Well, thank you so much Brian for coming on. Oh and I didn’t ask you this, your Grand Poobah. Where did Grand Poobah come from?

Brian: Oh well, when I was a kid, and I was a really little kid, we used to play with carton trucks in the backyard and dirt. And we would always have the names of the characters that died frequently and they would always have the last name of Poobah. And so that was Janie Poobah and Billy Poobah, and whatnot. And then when I was thinking for a name for the blog, I was thinking I had to incorporate some kind of casual name in there that I could use. And then back in the Fred Flintstones cartoons when he was the Grand Poobah and the leader of their lodge, it just seems like an easy pick, an easy name. Not pretentious and kind of self-deprecating, if you will. Even though it’s applied as Grand Poobah in us, but I was kind of a big fun of it myself and it works. It works.

Dustin: Well, it works for your own style I guess. Okay so, and if people want to get in touch with you, what’s your blog site? The name is kind of a funny url.

Brian: Yeah, it started back in 2007. It’s CaliforniaGBX0707@blogspot.com.

Dustin: Okay, I’ll have a link to that in the website as well.

Brian: Yeah, my email address is on there somewhere so anybody can send me an email.

Dustin: Okay. So yeah, if anybody has question or want some advice from you, I’ll find the email and I’ll put it on the website as well. Thank you so much Brian for coming on. I really appreciate it.

Brian: You’re quite welcome, Dustin. Thanks for having me.

Dustin: Sure, and we’ll talk to you again at some point.

Brian: Very good.

Dustin: Alright and there you have it, the Grand Poobah of the bar exam giving his more than 5 tips to go from repeater to passer on the bar exam. If you want to visit his blog, it’s got kind of a funny url, you heard him say it. Also, you can go to IPassedMyBarExam.com/GrandPoobah, and you can take a look at his blog. Also his email is bllypoobah@gmail.com so head on over to the site and see if he has some advice or send him an email if you want to ask questions about the bar.

Alright, and don’t forget to sign-up on my newsletter for the IPassedMYBarExam.com and get your 12 Keys to Bar Exam Success, go ahead and do that now and I will send you the 12 Keys to Bar Exam Success. And also, quick tips about the bar exam throughout your bar exam prep. So get out there and crush it this week. Go do a great job, and in time your name too, will appear on the pass list. Take Care.