What it sounded like at the bar exam

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This photo was taken at the Georgia bar exam in July 2013—but not much has changed in five years.

My own transition from the bar exam to law practice felt jarring. The solitude of studying and taking the exam gave way to a cacophony of interpersonal conversations. My listening “muscles” were atrophied, to say the least.

For those going immediately from the bar exam into practice–as well as those now headed into more job interviews–what strategies can they use to handle this transition? Mental rehearsal comes to mind: imagining situations involving in-depth listening and conversing, and then imagining specifics on what to do.

In the transition period, when new lawyers have a choice on how to communicate with family members, it might be worthwhile to replace some texting with phone calls, at least temporarily. (See this article from the Wall Street Journal on employees who keep in touch with parents throughout the work day by texting and chatting.)

It may be helpful to review a listening checklist (generally on preparing to listen or specifically for taking assignments) before going into a meeting or interview.

What other strategies could help new lawyers quickly “bridge the gap” to effective listening?

This post has been updated since it was originally published in August 2013.

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