On Professionalism

The scene: A little get together. A "party," if you will. Music in the background, not too loud. Drinks in hard.

The characters: An elementary school art teacher, a college sociology professor, and a young lawyer.

Art teacher (to lawyer): So, are you, like, officially an actual lawyer now?
Lawyer (a little confused): Um, yeah. Officially, I guess.
Art teacher: No, I mean, did you pass the bar and everything?
Lawyer: Oh yeah, I did that a few years ago, actually.
Art teacher: Really? A few years ago? When did you graduate from law school?
Lawyer: A few years ago. I took the bar that summer.
Art teacher: Really? And you passed it the first time?
(Around this time, another lawyer wanders into the conversation.)
Lawyer: Yes. I passed and got admitted that year.
Art teacher: But isn't that rare? I mean, it's hard, right? Didn't J.F.K., Jr. fail the bar like... six times or something?
Lawyer: Nah. I mean, it's tough, but depending on where you went to law school, something like 80-90 percent pass on the first try.
Second Lawyer (somewhat jokingly): Hey, don't say that. It's hard. It's really hard. Don't make it sound too easy.
Lawyer: Oh, yeah. Well, I mean, I guess it is hard. Yeah, really hard.
Sociology professor: And, there you have it. The history of professionalism, right there.

And, those of you studying for the bar exam, keep this in mind. A lot of it is just hype. And someday you'll be guilty of creating hype to make it sound like you too accomplished something that was practically impossible.


  1. I think I love you for that . . . said the frazzled bar studying person.

  2. Are you trying to suggest that art teachers are stupid, or that they just don't realize when they're in the presence of greatness?

    Or maybe just this one is a moron.

  3. That's how I feel about law school. When people ask me if it's/was hard I always say, "I guess, I don't know.. not really."

    It didn't live up to the hype.

    As for the bar exam, ask me how I feel in a few weeks.

  4. No, art teachers aren't stupid. She just doesn't know much about lawyers or how lawyers become lawyers (unlike most of my friends who are lawyers). On the other hand, I have no idea what you have to do to become an art teacher.

  5. Jen I'm with you. I tried to be honest with my friends who weren't in law school about it not being as hard as advertised and no one believed me.

  6. Maybe SecondLawyer didn't pass on the first try?

    I feel like a lot of the hype surrounding the bar is to make people who don't pass feel better, and reassure their clients that they're still competent.

  7. Heh. Almost everyone I meet who asks me about the bar exam asks if I passed it on my first try. They think I'm really smart when I say, "Yes." I still think the bar exam is hard, but most people study so much for it, that a large majority will still pass.

  8. The bar exam ( at least in NY) is hard. I passed the first time I took it and let me say that while that was a relief it was no honor. Any one who thinks a lawyer is smart because he passed the exam at all much less the first time is kidding himself. What stupid exam makes a person responsible for knowing 50k different legal principals and laws tests approximately 1000 and passes someone who can remember 660 of them. That does not denote excellence. I will take a kid who can think and act and research like a lawyer (and write like any other educated human) over a first time passer without those skills. There is a kid out there right now preparing to take the exam for the second time. He thinks he is a failure because he failed the first time. All I can say is that I am and will hold his job open for him until he passes because he is a quality person, and a good worker who knows how to open a book. He researches a law and gives me the right answer everytime I ask. I will take him over anyone who thinks they know any law on any given day and does not know how or want to look it up. Good luck John. And good luck to all you others like him.

  9. The Bar Exam is easy if you know how to take tests. I studied for about 30 minutes per day and took 5 practice tests and passed NY and NJ on the first try.

  10. Great Post! IMHO the Bar is a mental thing as opposed to an intellectual thing. If you can graduate from law school you can pass the bar-- what I think happens to those people who do really well in law school and then don't pass is that they have trouble flipping all those facts into what you DO in a particular situation....and they freak out about it. I had a Wonderwoman Pez dispenser on my desk and any time I would feel stressed I would just look at wonderwoman and smile :)

    And I did get really happy when that wench who made fun of me in law school for not being a gunner didn't pass and I did. heheheeh.

  11. I hope I have the same fate as all of you. Because I'm studying my ass off and I still don't feel great about anything. Not one damn subject do I think I could count on right now. Maybe Con Law.