It’s so difficult to balance empathy with advice. This post from Joe Regalia in the ABA Before the Bar Blog achieves that balance in addressing a very sensitive subject: life after failing the bar exam.
Joe acknowledges that the community of those who have failed the bar is something of a “secret society,” one that you can’t really understand unless you’re a member:
We need to have more respect for the toll failing a bar has on real lives. This is not just getting a bad grade. These people need our support.
Joe goes on to deliver a hopeful message—hopeful in the sense he compares failing the bar to getting a horrible flu but, eventually, recovering. And he describes some constructive advice for exactly how to do that.
This post came to my attention when Joe shared the reaction he’s gotten from the post. I’ll end here with Joe’s own observations:
The response to this article has been incredible this last year. It’s short and nothing special in the writing department. But I get a staggering number of emails from folks who stumble on it and ask to talk. Just this week I’ve chatted with three random people who wanted to talk about their experience.
I’m always struck by these conversations. I don’t do anything magical. I just listen and encourage. Tell them that all kinds of people have been where they are and give them a few practical tips for doing better.
But it always seems to help. For many of them, I think it’s just knowing that others have experienced this and that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Like many things in life, just having someone to listen goes a long way.
Joe Regalia clerked for several years in federal district courts and at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. These days he keeps his plate full as an adjunct law professor, an associate at the firm of Sidley Austin, and a frequent speaker and consultant on legal writing and legal test-taking.