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"It seems clear that plaintiffs have established a right to some form of remedy -- damages to reputation come to mind -- but it would seem that the harm has already been done." U.S. District Judge John P. Fullam, declining to issue an injunction in the defamation suit by two law professors against West Publishing.

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Sometime before you sit for the bar exam, you'll fill out a pile of forms that would've made the ol' KGB proud. To paraphrase Arlo Guthrie, you'll be inspected, dissected, neglected, reinspected, corrected, perhaps disinfected... and, with a little luck, not rejected but accepted.

Take this process seriously.

Now is not the time to draw pictures in unused questionnaire spaces (well-drawn though they may be), or write "As often as possible" in the "SEX:" space.

It is also not the time to decide that check-kiting is really more misunderstood than malevolent, or to realize your most radical dreams of restructuring society.

Wait until after you have passed the examiners' gaze, and've received their seal of approval.


Few of life's experiences will match the drama (and, possibly, tragedy) of the bar exam. Like all law school exams rolled into one, it will keep you on edge for a good half-year or so. Worse, it's pass/fail, which means that you'll have no choice but to overprepare for everything. Even more wondrous, preparing for the exam will finally expose you to real law! Much that was unclear in class is synthesized in bar review courses, and becomes obvious the second time around.

The bar exam is your final rite of passage for official entry into the profession. Final, that is, except for your Junior year to follow. Like your Junior year, give it all you've got... and get it behind you.

If you're joining a firm, they'll probably pick up the tab for a bar review course. If it's a larger firm, they're probably quite generous in giving you paid leave to study. Use it. Even if your firm doesn't have a policy-or deducts vacation time instead-take the time off. Sitting through four hours of bar review lectures six days a week after eight-to-twelve hour workdays is not a realistic long-term study plan. (And you do not want to face the consequences for your continued employment if you fail.)

If you're still on your own, you'll be stuck with yet another thousand-dollar-plus tab in addition to your mounting student debt. Unfortunately, signing up for commercial courses is not a luxury easily avoided. (Were it up to me, vigorous bar review courses and phased exams would replace the final semester of law school... though economics and ABA dictates will keep such radical thoughts at bay.)

Few (former) law students have the self-direction to make a decent go of self-study. Unfair or not, just figure this expense as yet another mounting cost to the legal feather in your cap. Hang in there. It'll all work out OK.

Whether you pay for it or not, take advantage of each bar review class. Usually, you can sit back and absorb most of the lectures.[*1]

Like law school (and practice), however, you must learn to think methodically... and write it down quickly. But this is the final final.

Compile your own outlines, boil each down into one-to-three page nuclei, burn them all in a ritualistic cleansing,[*2] and take the exam.


*1 While you're at it--and regardless of what area of law you think you're interested in--pay special attention to the basics: criminal law, wills and estates, family law, and such. Fifty dollars to the first lawyer who goes a season without being asked a dinner-party question in one of these areas. I revoke the preceding sentence, by the way, for those of you who saw an offer therein.

*2 Don't forget to douse the embers with the sludge that's left at the bottom of your coffee urn.

Excerpted from The Young Lawyer's Jungle Book, by Thane Josef Messinger, a graduate of the U. of Texas Law School, where he was an editor of the Texas Law Review.
Copyright 1996, The Fine Print Press

* Important Message From the Library Staff To the Library's Beloved Patrons * A lawyer/editor/psychotic friend raved about this book and insisted we'd love it, so we read it and liked it so much we bought the company -- opps, wrong commercial... Let's try again... After reading this new [11/96] book, we liked it so much we contacted the author and coerced him into giving a Special Deal to Library visitors who order it.

So, while we hesitate to do anything that might encourage further spread of The Lawyer Plague, if you already made up your mind, we strongly encourage you to find out more about The Young Lawyer's Jungle Book, and to order and read it immediately.