As many of the readers of this blog will know, this past week was BAR EXAM* week.
I don’t think sitting for the bar exam was fun for anyone. I walked out so convinced I had failed that Mr. DebtFreeJD had to talk me out of canceling my results. Good thing he did, too.
There’s a tradition among law school graduates of taking a fancy bar trip to an exotic location after sitting for the bar.
Instead of shelling out thousands of dollars to travel abroad, after I sat for the bar, Mr. DebtFreeJD and I went to visit his aunt and uncle on the Jersey shore for a few days.
We were so happy we did. First, Mr. DebtFreeJD’s aunt and uncle are fabulous. It’s always a ton of fun to visit them. It’s great to go swimming on the shore, the food’s great, and the company even better.
Plus, I spent about 90% of the first 72 hours after the bar exam asleep.** I would have felt pretty stupid doing that in a European hotel.
There’s a pretty good case for going on an expensive bar trip. It’s the last opportunity a lot of people have to take a three- or four-week vacation. It’s a great way to celebrate being done with law school and a stressful test.
I think the case against is even better.
First, when I just graduated from law school, I had no money. It is possible to take out money to cover you during the bar exam. Some people I know took out a bar loan, and then used the money to fly to the tropics. Borrowing money in July to fund a fancy vacation in August is not crazy if you are starting a BigLaw job in September. *** However, a vacation you have to pay interest on just was not appealing to me.
Second, if you are a recent law school graduate who has just taken the bar exam, you are probably exhausted. The August after the bar exam is done is a time for:
- Sleep (lots and lots of sleep)
- Eating healthy food (after probably months of munching late-night fried foods during study sessions and copious consumption of adult beverages in the days before graduation)
- Exercise (see #2)
- Seeing family members and friends you haven’t seen at all during the crazy of bar exam study
- Generally being as low-key as possible
I think those things are harder to do while touring Thailand or visiting 15 European countries in 15 days. Going on a vacation from which you’ll need a vacation is a terrible idea when you are sleep deprived, probably a little burnt-out, and about to start your first job as a lawyer in a couple of weeks.
Third, after just graduating from law school, I needed time to THINK. As in, I spend a whole chunk of time lying on the couch and processing the fact that I’d graduated, was about to start my first legal job, etc. etc. etc. (Plus various personal things like “Holy #%@ I’m getting married in a few months!!!)
My gripe with a fancy bar trip is really two-fold. First, it’s expensive, and when you are not earning a pay check, things should be cheap. Second, after the bar exam, you need low-key R&R. And I think that’s much easier to accomplish on your own couch than during an elephant tour of southern Africa,
* Imagine ominous music playing here.
**The other 10% was spent eating. Some people eat when they’re stressed. I’m the opposite – I’m not hungry when stressed, and then eat like a boa constrictor once the stressful event is over.
***Under any other circumstances, it IS crazy. I’m sorry, but them’s the facts.