January 29th at 1:00 pm
I am currently in the process of being approved to take the Oklahoma bar exam in July. As part of the application, the National Conference of Bar Examiners does a thorough check of every applicant’s whole life. The application itself is long and demanding, asking for information on all kinds of stuff, like past employers (for the last 10 years), past addresses (which was a challenge for me since I’ve had over 20 addresses since age 18), and many other personal details. The NCBE gives law students the option to start this whole process during their 1L year – which I highly recommend, but did not do myself. I didn’t do it because I wasn’t sure at that point where I would be practicing law after graduation, and I didn’t want to spend the money on a state bar application where I wouldn’t eventually practice. But when I eventually decided to stay in Oklahoma, I began the application process (around October of my 2L year). So now I’m less than 100 days from graduation and the process is still ongoing. (Oh, and the cost for delaying application until the 2L year increases dramatically, so there’s another reason to start during the 1L year.)
Yesterday I received a letter from the NCBE stating that they could not locate one of my previous employers, and included strong warnings about the failure to comply and the potential rejection of the application if the matter isn’t resolved within ten days. This caused me more than a moment’s worth of panic! This particular employer was never exactly reliable and I feared facing the daunting task of trying to locate this person. I started to fear what would happen if I couldn’t locate this person, and the horrific domino effect that would follow. I began to do quick calculations in my mind, considering how much student loan debt I’ve acquired over the last 2.5 years and wondering how long it would take me to pay it off if I’m working at Panera.
But since that time, I’ve talked to wiser and calmer people than me who have been through this application process, and they have helped me to trust that all will be ok. There will be a solution, I know it. (I do have an alternate contact for this person, and thankfully, the board allows substitute references that can confirm past employment.) This is just one of many little bumps in the road on the way to that glorious license! I think at this point, 100 days out from graduation, I assumed that I had pretty much passed all of the bumps, and that all of those little nagging issues were behind me. But I’m learning that they are just part of life, and definitely part of law school. The question becomes how we respond to these obstacles. One of the great things about the law school community, and truly the incredibly supportive community at TU, is that there is plenty of encouragement to keep going despite the bumps. Each experience makes us better – better planners, better problem solvers, better students, and hopefully, better lawyers. I know it’s kind of a basic reminder – life is hard, but keep going anyway – but it’s really good to remember through the law school experience… especially for anxious/tired/bored/burned out 3Ls who just want to get it over with already. A bump in the road at this point can feel almost unbearable. But I believe that all will be well, and we’ll be better in the end because of the challenges we faced along the way.