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Be a Bar Exam Warrior

Andranise's dance to success!

andranise dancer.jpg

When I met Andranise in November I saw a bright (but disheartened) student who felt  unsure about re-taking the CA bar exam.  I learned quickly that Andranise was happy, inspired, full of smiles and ..... a talented elegant dancer. Watching her hone her bar exam writing skills was like watching a ballet.  She truly danced her way to bar success.  And I loved being in the audience.  

Read her story here:

original post by Andranise Baxter  on her blog "Legally Brown" 

“EVERY DELAY IS IN YOUR FAVOR”

I write this blog after spending last weekend celebrating my accomplishment of passing the California Bar, and being sworn in as an attorney in the state of California. This is a huge deal as only 34.5% of examinees passed the February 2017 Bar Exam. Although this accomplishment is great, by no means did it come easily. I’d like to share with you my story, and hopefully be an encouragement to someone going through a trying time, whether it is taking a bar exam or any other present and temporary struggle.

I graduated from Pepperdine School of Law on May 20, 2016. You may be thinking, “wth that was a year ago, why are you just now being sworn in,” stick with me, my story is neat (in my opinion). I graduated in 2016 wanting to practice entertainment law, specifically music law. Upon graduation, I had no job prospects, no interviews, nothing awaiting me. I was extremely frustrated because I spent my entire three years networking, interning, and applying to law firms around the country in hopes that I would obtain my dream job making six figures, and paying my way out of law school debt. My dream was delayed.

All summer 16, no Drake, I studied for the July 2016 administration of the California bar exam. I spent nearly 10-14 hours a day 7 days a week studying for the bar. I had never worked so hard in my life for anything like I did to pass the bar exam on the first try. All summer I was secluded in a bedroom/office of someone who opened her home to me just so that I could study in California, and not have to go back to Indiana to study. Although studying sucked, I had my own quiet room, I had a set study schedule, and I stuck to my schedule with the discipline needed to be a successful bar exam taker, so I thought.

July 26 was the first day of the bar exam. I walked out knowing I failed. I went to workout as I generally do after exams to relieve stress. As I ran on the treadmill, it really hit me that I may have failed this exam, and I did everything I could to not break down crying while running on the treadmill because I could not be both a failure and a clumsy fool falling off a treadmill. I returned back to the convention center for two more days, because the California bar was 3 days; (you “lucky” folks starting this July get 2 days) to finish the exam. After it was over, I felt relieved, tired, and really unconfident of whether all my work had paid off.

After I took the exam, I had to move back to Indiana because I did not have a job. I was so sad to have to get rid of all of my furniture, and everything that made my home in the valley a cozy place. My parents shipped my car back, and I flew back home, for what I was hoping to be a two months, tops, stay in Indianapolis, Indiana, as I looked for jobs in LA. While back home I landed a job at a law firm called Reminger, Co. LPA, as a part time law clerk. The firm was great, they were understanding of my desires to move back to LA and work, but they still allowed me to work and learn under their employ.

I hated being in Indiana, the weather, the food, the lack of activities. I told very few people I was back because I felt like a failure having to come back to Indiana after spending three years in California. My time in Indiana extended far beyond the two month period I was aiming for. On November 18, 2016, the Friday before Thanksgiving, we received our bar results, and to my disappointment, I failed. I was crushed. I never failed anything. I cried, I did not eat, I managed to drink an entire bottle of wine, and decided to not take the bar again because obviously I was not meant to be an attorney. My dream was delayed, but I almost deferred it because I had a defeatist attitude. After telling my friends and partying to get my mind off of failing, I decided I would give it another try.

I contacted an amazing woman named Amy. I think she may actually be an angel because she’s an attorney, a tutor, a mom, a wife, and an amazing human being; almost too amazing to be real. I told her I did not want to retake the exam, but after reading her website I wanted to hear from someone as smart as she was that I had the ability to pass the bar on my second try. She assured me that she could help me pass, and told me not to quit. At that time Amy was a complete stranger, but hearing how confident she was in me gave me a glimmer of hope to give it another try.

The week after getting my results I started studying. Keep in mind my birthday and some of the best turn up holidays are in December. Instead of counting down to midnight with my friends while partaking in several drinks, I was in bed early so that I could wake up on New Year’s morning and study. In addition to my holiday turn ups being turn downs, I had to balance working and studying. I worked from 9-2 Monday-Thursday, worked out, showered, dressed, studied from 4-10 at my neighborhood Starbucks. On Fridays and Saturdays I studied from 9-7, and Sundays from 11-7. I did this from November until February when I retook the exam. It was tiring, if it were not for my faith, the support of family and friends, and Amy’s encouragement; there was no way I could have done this alone. The true blessing in disguise was the fact that I was able to work a job at a law firm, gain more experience, and work part time which allowed me to spend 6 to 7 hours a day studying for the exam.

The week before the exam I was starting to feel the pressure, but I knew I needed to relax and not psyche myself out. I had worked way too hard to allow my nerves to get the best of me. I had to fly to California to take the exam. My flight was scheduled for February 19th, and on February 18th, my grandfather passed away. It was unreal. I was sad, but I did not have time to mourn because I could not get out of the zone. I remember giving my mom a hug, asking her if she was okay, and going back into my quiet room and hammering note cards into my memory. The next morning I left.

The second go round of the bar exam felt totally different than my first time. I was relaxed, before I left I had gotten my hair done, my brows done and my nails done; so I would say I was looking pretty fine, all whilst taking the hardest exam in the country. I enjoyed some parts of the exam because as I was taking it I knew I was killing it. Don’t get me wrong, it was still very hard, but I felt more confident as I crafted what I hoped to be model examinee answers.

The wait for the results ensued. In the meantime I kept working at the firm. I did not want to apply for jobs because I did not have my results. Although I was not looking for a job, a great opportunity fell in my lap. I interviewed to work in the business affairs department at an advertising agency. The position would allow me to work in different parts of entertainment from music, to production, licensing, and learning more about the actor’s union. I did not think much would come from the interview, but after meeting with 6 different people in the department, the company extended a formal offer to me on May 5th.

Seven days later, the bar exam results were available. Nervous, but ready to take the exam again, I typed my 4 digit code into the system, pressed enter, and read, “Andranise Baxter, this name is included on the pass list.” I screamed. I jumped up and down. I hugged my parents. I grabbed my dog. I popped the champagne. I danced around the house. I also tried to get footage on Snapchat because if it’s not on social media, then it did not happen, or so they say.

In a year my life went from law school graduate with no job prospects and a bar exam failure, to an attorney, with a job that allows her to explore the entertainment field more. My title of the blog comes from a Facebook status my line sister wrote, and inspired me because my dreams were delayed. I did not have a job upon graduation when it seemed like everyone else did. I did not pass the bar, and I felt like the only failure I knew. However, during that delay, I worked at a law firm and gained invaluable experience, I passed the bar, and I found a great job that is in my field. If you made it this far in my post, thank you, I hope my story encourages you. The present struggle you are going through is preparing you for what is to come, and once it comes you will be able to breeze through it like a champ while looking good! Keep your head up, stay confident, and believe because whatever you are facing, you will get through it.

 

My uncles and mom surprised me with an amazing cake!

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I was sworn in with some of the best people I met while in law school!

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Getting my bar card notarized by the judge!

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Taking the oath, and smiling because I knew this was a great photo op!

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Amy Parekh