Wednesday, March 4, 2009

VA vs. OK Bar Exams

After a week to recover, it seems only fair to briefly recap the bar experience for those that helped me through it. However, most if it is not particularly interesting if you are not one of the ones slaving away. The most interesting part to me this time was how different the attitude of the exam site itself was between VA and OK. A few basic differences are highlighted here:

Attire: VA suits only, possibly with sneakers so it is quieter. vs. OK - whatever you want, but no caps or visors and should be "appropriate" to the occasion. This translated to very casual. I discovered after day one that all the cool kids were wearing hoodies from their respective law schools and joined the fray on day two. Luckily a GW hoodie was one of my last purchased before leaving DC.

Ziplock baggies: VA - basically could have your ID, pen/pencil, eraser and maybe some money in a one quart clear ziptop bag. vs. OK - I brought a VA style bag only to discover that nearly all my comrades had bags that were at least gallon size and some much larger. They also had any manner of things from water bottles, to candy and stress balls. Luckily for me the young lawyers division was handing out gallon bags full of necessary goodies including water.

Rule enforcement: VA - very strict, hauled someone out bodily for opening their test book to soon vs. OK - day one was very relaxed and people had more things in the room/at their desk than I think was strictly allowed. Day 2 was a big more rigid, but not nearly as much as VA. In fact they made an error in handing out the booklets which would have blown the VA bar examiners minds, but I'll spare you the controversy.

Administrators of the Bar: VA - old, white, southern gentlemen with thick accents vs. OK - younger, nearly all female both as to the examiners and the other proctors.

State Day Exam itself: VA - 7 essays and 10 multiple choice I think vs. OK - 16 essays (which is both too many and sort of handy if you don't know too much about one of them).

Number of Examinees: VA - my vague memory is that maybe 700-800 people took the exam in February. I think the summer number is closer to 3500-4000 vs. OK - there are two sites in OK, but the total for February is probably less than 150 and maybe three times that give or take in the summer. The good news from this is that we get our results back a bit sooner.

As to my colleagues I admit I don't remember much about the demography of the people taking the exam with me in VA, but was interested to note in OK that they were about 50/50 male and female. There was one other very visibly pregnant woman and another woman that pumped in the restroom during breaks. The face of the law I believe has definitely shifted in the last generation or two!

Overall, I'd say the OK bar takes itself significantly less seriously than the VA bar, but that is probably a good thing all things considered.

As for my performance, while I have lots of thoughts about it I'd briefly say that day one went pretty well I think and day two a bit less so, but I always feel less confident about day two. Just under a month until results come out so we shall see. In any case, I am very very glad to have it behind me and be shifting back to regular life. Thanks for all your encouragement, kindness and support during that difficult time.

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