You’re about to take the biggest test of your life – the bar exam.
You arrive at the N.C. State Fairgrounds testing site with your laptop charged, your head filled with BarBri data and your nerves frazzled. You open your booklet and begin.
Then the power blows.
You sit there in the darkness with your stomach churning and your computer battery draining. Minutes tick by, half an hour, an hour. Still no electricity. There is nothing to do but wait … and weep.
A nightmare, right? Yet all too real for the unfortunate future counselors who sat for the Summer 2012 North Carolina Bar Examination.
Here’s how a first-person account on the blog Above the Law described the experience:
“During the afternoon session in Raleigh today there was a storm, followed by a power outage that lasted about an hour. People’s computers batteries died mid-essay and everyone freaked out. They gave everyone extra time to make up for it but it probably threw a lot of people off their game. I was super glad I decided to handwrite the exam. I would’ve felt like a real moron if I’d paid the computer fee and then still had to handwrite…. No a/c plus no power plus a few thousand freaking out students in what is essentially a livestock holding facility in July would be brutal.”
And you thought your bar exam experience was tough.
Conspiracy theorists are having a field day. This is all part of a plot by the Board of Law Examiners to weed out the weaklings. This is payback for law schools for admitting too many students. This will become a standard part of the testing process – augmented in future sessions with cattle prods and blasting “School’s Out” by Alice Cooper through loudspeakers at ear-splitting decibels.
The more literary-minded will find an apt metaphor for the precarious state of our profession. We are all groping in the dark after all, as the temperature rises and the power bleeds from our battery packs. How hard it is to recover from life’s cruel jolts. How difficult to maintain composure in the heart of darkness.
But one thing is certain. For those hearty souls who passed through Dante’s Inferno on that sweltering day in July, what lies ahead will be a cakewalk. Appellate briefs and oral arguments will be a blessing. Billable hours will be a breeze.
For they will have learned an important truth: often the world of law is neither grounded nor fair – especially on the fairgrounds.