Is Failing the Bar Exam the End of My Legal Career? - JD Advising
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End of My Legal Career

Is Failing the Bar Exam the End of My Legal Career?

If you’re wondering if failing the bar exam is the end of your legal career, we’ve got a simple answer: no! Many successful attorneys fail the bar exam and then go on to have successful legal careers. This list includes former presidents (Franklin D. Roosevelt), former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (she passed the Arkansas bar, but was never able to pass the D.C. bar exam), former First Lady Michelle Obama, and many other highly successful individuals. To help you follow in their footsteps, we’ve put together this list of steps to take after failing the bar exam.

Is Failing the Bar Exam the End of My Legal Career?

1. Take Some Time to Process

When you found out that you failed the bar exam, you probably felt a thousand (or more!) different emotions. When you receive a negative result like failing the bar exam, it is natural to go through a grieving process. Give yourself the time and space to do this and remind yourself that your feelings are valid.  There’s no reason to make a decision about what to do next the same day you receive your results!

2. Figure Out What Went Wrong

When you prepared for the bar exam, you probably put tons of time and energy into bar review (if you didn’t, that may be a reason why you did not pass!). Your next step is to figure out what went wrong. Your test results are useful for learning your scores in various sections — note where you did well, and where you did poorly. You should also think about your study process itself. Were there certain concepts you felt never clicked? Did you feel burnt out by the end?  All of this may play a role in the final result, and it’s important to identify what might have gone wrong so you know what needs to be addressed moving forward.

3. Figure Out What Will Work for You

Once you’ve taken stock of what went wrong, you can begin preparing for your next attempt. Since what you did the first time did not work,  you’ll need to make some adjustments for success in the future. At the very least, you’ll need to do more than just rewatch your bar review lectures from your first attempt.

4. Create a Plan for Success

Once you have some ideas on how you can improve, start planning for success. This may mean enrolling in a different bar review course, working with a private bar exam tutor, or supplementing the materials you previously used. If you’re not sure where to start, we can help you find bar exam materials that will work for you.

5. Don’t Neglect Your Health

As you prepare to take the bar exam again, be sure you’re caring for your mental and physical health. All of the preparation in the world won’t help you if you can’t perform your best on test day. Take regular study breaks for exercise, healthy meals, and catching up with friends and loved ones.

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