Friday, February 14, 2003

MISSION: MEDIOCRITY: Studying for the bar exam is unlike any other academic experience in my life. The goal, lawyers and cram course teachers tell me again and again, isn't to be the best, or even above average, but just barely competent, just one point above failure. Having done 25 years in school and been only recently paroled, that advice sounds heretical. Never, from Kindergarten through my third year in law school, did I ever think, or did a teacher or professor ever tell me, "All you have to do is not fail." But that's all I have to do to get my law license in the State of Tennessee. In fact, that's all I can do, because the bar examiners have contrived such absurdly subtle multiple choice questions (two hundred questions to be answered in six hours, 1.8 minutes per question, with 120 out of 200 deemed a good score) and essay questions covering the breadth of Tennessee and general American law (twelve essays to be answered in six hours, everything from implied warranties under the Uniform Commercial Code to who gets the Thunderbird, two kids, and the frozen embryos in a messy divorce) that, as a practical matter, only a genius could excel! Indeed, the only reason to aim just a wee bit above that "pass" mark is that the consequences of falling just a wee bit below it are so utterly, unthinkably, nightmare-inducingly bad, foremost among them being having to take this accursed exam again, getting fired, and humiliation. Which is why I think I'll get back to studying.

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