Studying for the California Bar exam feels like training for ultra marathon. There are moments when I despair at the enormity of information. In a nutshell bar prep takes what you learned during law school and funnels it into core concepts. It is a lot of information and nowhere as detailed as classes, but it is just a ton.
After law school a graduate is also in professional limbo. A law grad is expertly qualified for a job they cannot do (until they pass the bar) and other employers will not even interview you because “you are going to leave anyway.” I cannot argue with the soundness of that logic; but being on the other side of it is unpleasant to put it mildly.
I am fortunate that I have somewhere to go after the bar. I accepted a post bar clerkship at the Riverside Public Defender. I previously clerked for the Public Defender and the District Attorney and enjoyed criminal law. In my opinion criminal law teaches elements of practice not immediately available in other areas of the law.
For example, an associate at a civil firm will do a lot of work but most likely not interact with clients directly because that is done through a senior partner. However, criminal law allows for interaction with victims (DA) and defendants (PD) live and in technicolor. Learning to effectively communicate with a person with skin in the game is substantially different than watching from the sidelines. I think the experience has given me greater respect for lawyers that do transaction work. The courtroom is a very artificial setting and civil or immigration practice requires managing client expectations in the real world on a regular basis which sometimes can be more difficult that the courtroom.
I do not know what sort of law I will practice. I want a job that allows me liberty to think and work toward goals that help others. I know that is really general and vague but that’s the point. The law, unlike many other professions, has a place for everyone and we often don’t know where it is until we toe the line.
Speaking of the line. My training volume is better and I am glad to report the class that caused me to miss the Santa Clarita Marathon in November, Remedies, resulted in an A-. I missed the marathon because we had an assignment to write a Temporary Restraining Order. I had no clue what I was doing, but it did force me to kick into high gear and figure it out. Subsequently, I have kicked my running into gear as well.
I am averaging 15-20 miles per week and a lot of it on the treadmill. I am not a fan of them, but I cannot deny they are an efficient way to get the miles in and right now its my connection to the outside world. I know it is not the huge numbers I was putting up a few years ago, but since then I have had a few things happen so I am good with it. The consistency is really slowly paying off dividends. My average pace has dropped and my body recovers more quickly after runs despite the 10-12 hours of sitting I do studying. Well, there is the update, now back to it.