Law School,  Work Life Balance

Summer Series: The Right Mindset to Conquer The Bar

Summer Series 2019 continues! Today we have Karen Martinez, a repeat (and beloved) guest writer to this series. We have seen Karen conquer her 1L summer, master networking to nab a great second summer internship, and now she gives us a peek into her Bar Prep. She has the right mindset and animo that we should all hope to capture when studying for this beast of an exam! 



One month into Bar prep has felt a lot more stressful than the last three years of law school. I have also realized that it is only more stressful because it is 3 years of law school condensed into 2 months. However, I have also realized that the only way to get through it, is to apply the lessons I learned during law school. This is how I got through law school and how I hope to get through Bar prep.


While in law school, I often felt the competitive pressure of doing everything my peers were doing, and felt that if I didn’t I was somehow behind.  After some time, I decided to only do the things that were of interest to me and what I thought would help me in my legal career. I decided not to go to every networking event, not to do internships in big law and take a combination of classes that would prepare me for the bar but also clinics and seminars that allowed me to explore the topics and work I actually cared for. Once I decided to do me, I ended up really enjoying law school.

This has been no different during Bar prep. I once again chose to do what works for me. I chose which friends to study with, those that would help keep me focused and not add unnecessary stress. I chose to stay in the Bay Area instead of returning home to Los Angeles to study because I knew there would be many distractions back home. While it was tough to choose some friends over others and also to stay more time away from family, I know this is just a small sacrifice that will not last more than 2 months You have to put yourself first for two months, even if that might feel a little selfish.


You are not alone. During law school I learned that there are a lot of people, people I still have not met, rooting for us. There are a lot of people that want to see more Latinx in the profession. I am grateful for every professor, attorney, alum that provided me with countless hours of advice. When I thought I could not get through finals, they were there to say “si se puede”. This has not ended during Bar prep.  UC Hastings has wonderful programs that pair you up with faculty and alumni with the expectation that they will be there for you when you need coffee or just words of encouragement. If your school has something like that, take advantage of it! Faculty and alumni have already gone through this experience and they have vast knowledge when it comes to how to stay sane during this difficult time.


Just last week I found myself at a loss. I started to feel incredibly overwhelmed and the negative thoughts of what might happen if I don’t pass started haunting me. I had planned to come home to L.A for Father’s Day weekend, but in the moment the idea of not being able to study at home terrified me. However, I knew I had to get away from the Bay and that I needed to come home, even if just for a bit. I grabbed the first bus home and now feel more energized and motivated to kick butt. Don’t be afraid to take a couple of days if you really feel you need to.



One of the most memorable things from Bar Prep came from one of the lecturers who reminded us that we have the privilege of taking the Bar. He reminded us there are a lot of people who wish they could take the Bar and become licensed attorneys, but can’t. We should always remind ourselves that the Bar is not something we have to do, but it is something we get to do.