Monday, March 22, 2010

The bar exam, by the numbers

....Or, "How The Bar Exam Saved California's Budget Crisis."

I am taking the California Bar in July (to clarify: in May, June, and August, I will be going to California bars. This is not the same experience, though both leave you poorer and headachey). I've been bopping along this spring, doling out all of my shiny new tax refund right back to the fine state of California. I'm in the fortunate position of having a bar-study stipend, so long as my firm doesn't fire me (I love you, Work Hard Play Hard, LLP. Call me.), so mercifully, this will eventually get reimbursed, but the idea of shelling out this much money for 3 days of total misery still smarts.*

In the meantime, I'm absolutely certain that bar fees are a tremendously good indicator of the fact that the legal profession only vaguely remembers what it was like to be a starving student. That, or lawyers are just assholes.

Read it and weep, 2Ls. This is you next year. Save your birthday money.

Registration ($97)
: Presumably, California needs fair warning that sometime, in the not-too-distant future, I will be sending them more of my money. I can't figure out another good reason to be paying this fee. Also,

Laptop Fee ($125): This makes sense, because it is the only normal looking number in this list, and after all, it is so much more expensive and time consuming for the bar examiners to read a printed version of your answers, rather than your manic scrawling. Right? Of course right. Or there's the blood-sucking money leeches approach, but the first idea makes more sense.

Bar Exam Registration ($556):
For this much money, how much fun would you expect? I haven't done the research, but it seems like this should go pretty far in a strip club. I know it's several bottles of nice wine for me, and a couple of terrific dinners out. The hidden cost here is that the State Bar has to put all of these people in rooms, see, with these tiny desks, and turn the lights to the right level of irritatingly low/glaringly bright, and then pass out paper. And paper, you all know, is very expensive. So are lights.

Character and Fitness Application ($453):
Yes, it does cost $453 to call each of my former roommates (thanks, guys!) to have them aver that, no, she doesn't have a substance abuse problem, and no, we don't think she's committed any felonies. That she's been caught for. Or something.*

Sidebar: Is anyone else irrationally afraid that, during this process, there will be some terrible mistake, and some dark, not-you record will come out of the woodwork, and then you won't be able to be an attorney because someone with your name robbed a nursing home and then declared bankruptcy and then got convicted for dealing cocaine to school children and oh god how will you pay off your student loans with Not-You running around keeping you from being a lawyer oh no oh no?

Just me?
Right. Ok, then.

Moral of the story: I think the California State Bar might be running a pyramid scheme. Someone alert the authorities.

*I know! I'm still employed. Believe me, it's as crazy to me as it is to you. This is due entirely to dumb luck, and has very, very little to do with my actual credentials (although I think the hiring partner was looking for someone who could pick out a nice bottle of wine for him).


Legally Fabulous said...

I just posted about my utterly ridiculous experience with the Illinois State bar. It's all totally out of control

John said...

It's another $200 once you pass (for the rest of the year), and $400 per year after that. So you're still not done.

December ♥ 3rd said...

You forgot: almost $3400 for Barbri (if you're taking it). I locked in my fee and paid slightly less but it still hurt.

Once you're admitted, fill out the fee waiver. You get your first year for free, as long as you made less than $20k. If you made less than $40k in the last year, you can get a "discount" and pay around $300. I got approved for the waiver and I figure it's one small victory. I'm surprised more people don't know about the waiver. But I'm sure they get us with MCLE because it's required and friggin' EXPENSIVE!

Good luck!

Tree Hugging 2L said...

ohmigod. and these numbers don't even include the amount of money you have to dish out to prepare for and not fail said bar. clearly i overshot when i decided to become an attorney. apparently, barbri is where it's at.

Virgin In The Volcano said...

I'm assigned to Century City. If you're there too, how about a beer after?

ImNobody said...

For a beer and bitching about Barbri, I will get myself to Century City.

In it to my eyeballs said...

I will confirm for you, after THE VERY BAD NIGHT BACHELORETTE PARTY, that is roughly how much you can spend for a goodly amount of time at a middling quality strip club.

Lauren said...

I am a 2L in law school now--thanks for reminding me to start saving now.

Barbri's cost is awful, but what I think is the worst is that the bar examiners just won't take our money, we have to hassle us with all the forms and background checks.

All rights reserved to my snotty and generally self-deprecating writing. And if your comments bother me, I'll delete them. That's right, pumpkin.
...How dreary—to be—Somebody!
How public—like a Frog—
To tell one's name—the livelong June—
To an admiring Bog!
-- Emily Dickinson