Lawyering is a Crisis Profession

A deep breath in and a little perspective before you enter into the test. If you are feeling wronged by the disruptive test prep conditions presented by the national COVID crisis, I urge you to remember that crisis is exactly what you signed up for. There is practically never a moment when the act of lawyering does not involve confronting a crisis. And I say this knowing that this summer’s exam prep has been destabilizing. No one would choose these conditions for taking the most important exam of their life. 
As a bar coach, certainly I would not prefer extended months of uncertainty; people have a saturation point for distress. But in so many ways, this very turbulent time is a perfect proving ground for what you are about to do. The law is unpredictable. Clients, judges, and law employers are unrelenting in their demand of us, sometimes beyond what we think is our capacity. Trials dates are often postponed. Judges demand unexpected court appearances. Conflicts between parties results in the filing of emergent motions, which requires immediate responses and unplanned appearances. You get a license to practice because these challenges require a certain fortitude.
Every lawyer I have ever known has found it within themselves to deliver under difficult circumstances. Why do you think that is? Because you were already that before you stepped into the room to take the test. On the way out, you are even more so. Every part of your journey has revealed a depth of will and self-regard that brings you to a place worthy of your license. Look back at these last several months as a blessed gift that you can add to your arsenal of capacity. You did something truly extraordinary in really unchartered times. If you are still standing right now and about to sign on for a remote exam or to step into a test center wearing a mask, sitting a good distance from someone else, this is all the more proof of what you're worth. When you are taking the test, make that person the greater part of you, because it is.
If your confidence falters, remember that mine hasn’t, and use that. I know what you are. Now you should. Be that brilliant light today. I’ll be with you every second.

Deborah Sanders is owner of  Bar-None Prep and has taught the bar prep method she created for her own bar exam for over twenty years. She is based in New Jersey. In addition to a regular column, she is writing a book on "The Spiritual Path to Passing the Bar." You can contact her at