Don’t Get Too Caught Up
Once you’ve taken the bar, pause and take a deep breath. Remind yourself that it’s not overwhelmingly important in the grand scheme of your life.
Solo practitioner Evan Walker has passed three bar exams in three states. His stance on the bar exam is not to stress the test itself and trust in the time you’ve spent preparing.
“It’s all about perspective,” he stated. “It’s not the end of the world.”
Walker feels that taking the bar exam was another step in his career, but still, a test is a test. “It was just something I got done,” he noted. “And after, I waited for the results. It was out of my hands.”
Despite saying this today, Walker remembered feeling that it would have been apocalyptic if he hadn’t passed the first bar exam he took. But by the time he took his most recent bar exam in California, the stress of waiting for the results waned.
In fact, Walker wasn’t so sure he’d passed. “I told my wife I didn’t know if I passed,” he said. “I just didn’t know.” (He did.)
Acknowledge the Physical Toll
Walker understands the physical toll of test taking and remembers being physically exhausted due to the psychological pressure. Sure, you haven’t physically exerted yourself as you’d do running a marathon.
But for Walker and many others, the process led to physical exhaustion. “It’s not because I’m digging ditches,” he said. “It’s the psychological stress of going through the exam because it’s stressful, very stressful.”
Returning to work and a routine can help you readjust. Resume an old hobby. Returning to things that allow you to decompress and recuperate will bring the most significant rest. If you’re feeling ambitious after such a significant accomplishment, start a new hobby. Whatever you choose, channeling your residual nervous energy can make all the difference in allowing your body to reset.
Lawyer Claire Parsons advised taking the time to do something meaningful to you. “That doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot of money,” she explained. “It can mean getting away to a state park near you and getting outside.”
The United States has many beautiful national, state, and regional parks. Spending time outdoors can have significant impacts on your health. Returning to a calm state will trigger the relaxation responses necessary for stress management and recuperation.
Parsons also advises recognizing the tools you have at your disposal. “My understanding of wellness and stress has drastically advanced since I took the bar exam,” Parsons stated. "When many of us take the bar exam in our young twenties, we don’t realize all the life experience we don’t have.”
Attorney Daniel Wiig took two and a half months to recover from taking the bar exam. Wiig took the New York and New Jersey bar exams during the same exam period for a grand total of three days of testing.
“It was vacation time,” Wiig stated. “It was summer, and I socialized before resuming life in September with my clerkship.”
Plan Something to Look Forward To
Many attorneys suggest planning something to do after the bar exam. Parsons planned to move in with her now-husband after taking the bar exam. “We were making plans and arrangements for the apartment,” Parsons stated.
Joshua Mertzlufft got married two weeks after the bar exam. His advice for the post-bar period is to catch up on the things you put on the back burner during the months you were preparing. Mertzlufft spent those two weeks finalizing preparations for the wedding.
Other attorneys didn’t turn to big life events after the bar. They settled into the wonderfully mundane parts of life. Enjoying time with children, family, and friends can refresh and reset your mind. Returning to your values will bring about the best peace.
Walker resumed life as normal. “I just went about my business,” he said, “I didn’t party. I didn’t write a book. I just went back to work.” After taking his most recent bar exam, the California test, Walker enjoyed time with his infant son before placing him in daycare.
“The best vacation you’ll ever have in your life is between the time you finish the bar exam and start your job,” Wiig asserted.
Chances are, you didn’t have much time for travel or vacations during law school. Before beginning your career as an attorney, carve out some time for travel.
The odds are that the things you’ll do after the bar exam will be greater than you could ever imagine for yourself. To prepare you for what lies ahead, take the time you need to return to yourself and your values.