Taking the Bar: Or, the Day a Pigeon Fell Down Dead at My Feet

For those of you who don’t know me and have not committed my About Me page to memory, there’s something I have to tell you: I’m a lawyer. Wait, wait. Don’t go. I’m not an overly annoying lawyer – or at least, I’m not overly annoying by virtue of being a lawyer. I only rarely use Latin, and only when really necessary. (Non-lawyers have Latin emergencies, right?) I don’t chase ambulances unless I’m playing trucks with my kids. I even work at a non-profit that promotes victims’ rights. So we’re still good, right? (I kid, I kid. I love lawyers! Some of my best friends are lawyers!)

Today, would-be admittees to the Oregon Bar found out their Bar results, which instantly threw me back to the trauma of taking the dreaded Bar Exam. For those who have not had the pleasure, a little background. The test is usually two days. Based on which state’s bar you are taking, you are expected to memorize between 35,000 and 490,350 random facts, balancing tests and other pointless intricacies of the law. For New York, where I first took the Bar, it’s closer to the 490,350 end. When you begin to practice law, you will rely on your memory of these factoids exactly never. You would probably end up being disbarred if you did. So, in a nutshell, super grueling stressful two days of testing to take an exam that you need to pass in order to practice the law and that in no way equips you for being a lawyer. Super fun times. But I digress.

In order to memorize all this fun legal trivia, most people sign up for a wildly expensive test prep course. These courses narrow down with a degree of statistical certainty which areas the test is likely to cover on that year’s exam. My year, the test prep course totally and completely blew it. Will there be a question on no-fault insurance? What, no-fault insurance!? Don’t be crazy. Don’t even bother to read the summary of this completely useless area of law because they have not tested on this subject for 14 years and will never do so again. Oh wait, except this year. The extent of my knowledge of no-fault insurance was that it was something upon which I would not get tested. My answer to that question was: “It should be noted: there may be a no-fault insurance issue here.” I refrained from inserting “Bastards” at the end of my answer. Nailed. It. There were so many more instances of me just staring at the paper, scared and pissed off. Wire tapping? Seriously? If I had a dollar for every “It should be noted” I scrawled across my test, I would be making some good headway in my student debt.

Needless to say, at the end of the second day, I was pretty convinced that I had failed the test. Not only failed it, but failed it so thoroughly and completely that they would not even let me retake it. Even if that’s not something the Bar Association actually does, I was sure they would make an exception for me, the person who I was sure was about to come in absolute last place in the history of anyone who had ever taken the Bar Exam. (Also, I’m Type A – did I mention that?)

I started my slow, desolate walk back to my apartment. I had just crossed 11th Avenue and was passing under an overpass when I saw a blur and heard a “THWACK!” I looked down at my feet and there, writhing on the ground, was a pigeon. I stared at it in shock as it drew its last breath and lay motionless where my foot had been about to step. I kid you not. There could not have been a clearer sign that my would-be career as a budding lawyer was over before it started.

Well, I got that wrong too, because I did pass that exam. They don’t give test-takers their scores, but I’m gonna go out on a limb and guess that mine was not the highest score that year. This, however, was one exam I was fine getting a D+ on, or whatever it was that it ended up being. Just so long as I never, ever had to take that frickin’ exam ever, ever again. Ever. Because it should be noted: One dead pigeon sign was enough for me in this lifetime.

10 responses to “Taking the Bar: Or, the Day a Pigeon Fell Down Dead at My Feet

  1. Ha ha I remember when this happened 🙂

    Miss you Ali! Love the blog! You’re doing much better at it than I am 🙂

    Sent from my iPad



  2. Oh my gosh, haha! I’m dying over here. SO funny! I’m one of those type A’s who is used to doing well on tests, etc. as well. Kudos to you for passing the bar however you needed to do it! You’re an incredible woman, cheers!


  3. Great post! I totally relate to your feeling of dread about taking your bar exam. I’ve taken similarly grueling tests for specialized teaching endorsements and left completely sure that I failed, only to find – after a week or two of sweating and stewing – that I passed with flying colors. I have never had any avian drop dead at my feet, however, so hats off to you – both for passing the bar and living through that!


  4. I was having a bad day at work, but it made me feel better to hear about this worst day in your past that now you can look at humorously. I hope I can feel the same way about this stage of my life one day in the future!


  5. I don’t even know what to say except that you are a fantastic storyteller! Thank you for this entertaining read!


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