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Bar Exam Results ... What to Do When You Get Them

By Gabriella Khorasanee, JD | Last updated on

It's that time of year ... you should be getting your bar exam results soon. If you live in New York, then you already know if you passed, but those in California have to wait until November 22nd to find out their results.

It's funny how it works. After the exam you're just relieved to be done, then you get on with your life, and just as things approach normal you remember -- the date for the exam results is coming soon -- and the stress starts to build all over again.

So on that fateful day, what should you do after you find out your bar exam results?

If you passed -- congrats! Now do this ...

1. Tell Your Mom

Your mom (or dad, brother, sister, step-parent, you get the picture) has been waiting for this news since you were born -- she's had big dreams for you. Let her in first, she'll be so proud.

2. Tell Your Boss

If you're working at a law firm tell your boss that you passed -- you're on your way to being a real lawyer. Someday.

3. Update Your Resume

You can know write "Passed the xx Bar Exam, July, 2013" on your resume -- which is much cooler than just saying you have a J.D. After you are sworn in, replace that with "Bar No. 162007."

4. Get Your Character Applications Ready

The hardest part of becoming a member of the bar is over, but now comes the most annoying part -- the moral character application. Prepare to have (depending on your state) fingerprints taken, and a full background check. That means having to remember every address you've lived in, and job you've had.

5. Decide on Federal Practice

If you know you're going into federal practice, you may have to be admitted separately into each of the districts and circuits you plan on practicing in. Admission varies by district so look into each district and circuit's requirements.

If you didn't pass -- there's always next time. Now do this ...

1. Tell Your Mom

Your mom (or dad, brother, sister, step-parent, you get the picture) is your biggest cheerleader. She thinks you can do anything -- take a minute to cry on her shoulder, and then listen to her.

2. Tell Your Boss

It's going to suck, but you have to tell your boss. Depending on your firm you may get a second chance, get reassigned, or get the ax. There's no use lying, they will find out.

3. Register for the Next Exam

If you haven't given up on being a lawyer -- and you shouldn't -- get the ball rolling for the next exam. Now that you know the date of the next exam, you can create your study strategy and timeline.

4. Change the Study Strategy

Not to be harsh, but your previous strategy didn't work. Maybe you need to put more time in, maybe you need to take more practice exams, maybe you need to take a different class. Take a moment to do a post-mortem and figure out how you can change your study strategy.

This time of year is stressful and exciting all at once. If you have a game plan regardless of what your exam results are, it will make taking the next steps that much easier. We wish our readers the best of luck!

What did you do after you found out your bar exam results? Let us know on Facebook at FindLaw for Legal Professionals.

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