Dear students: below is a guest post from Tanisha Pinkins 16L, who successfully took and passed the bar exam on her first try and who has been working with the Office of Academic Engagement and Student Success to help other students, before starting her fulltime law job next week!
I have felt disturbed and distracted for a week now, since I became aware of the white supremacist gatherings at UVA and in Charlottesville. I was so proud of Emory President Claire Sterk’s ringing rejection of any such ideology:
Message from Emory President Claire E. Sterk:
The recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia, serve as a stark reminder that although we have made tremendous advances in civil and human rights, we have work to do. We are fortunate to live in Atlanta: the heart of the civil rights movement. With great privilege comes responsibility. Now is the time for speaking the truth.
Emory’s core values call us to be champions of equality, inclusion, and the pursuit of knowledge. I stand committed to our values and am proud that Emory strives to be a place where people can hold difficult conversations respectfully. But let me be clear: supremacist groups are not engaged in the difficult work of informed civil discourse. Theirs is a different project. These groups seek to undermine the fabric of civil society through ignorance, fear, and violence. Their actions stand in contrast to everything we strive for as members of an academic community committed to the discovery and application of knowledge for the greater good.
I believe that education still matters. I believe that the liberal arts, the sciences, and the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake still form the foundation of civil discourse in this society. Supremacist ideology does not, and will not, have a seat at Emory University’s table.
As President of Emory University, I am proud of the courage shown by those who stand for our shared values.
What more is there to say? She said it so well, and this blog is for discussions of bar readiness and academic support, not politics (and I am not inviting comments).
The emotions churned up by the weekend’s shameful events understandably consume attention, energy and focus among our students, as discussed here: Law School Academic Support Blog. But one student’s reaction restored some of my own energy. The keynote speaker at our Welcome Week program was Aloke Chakravarty 97L, who successfully prosecuted the surviving bomber of the Boston Marathon. Both he and Dean Jud Graves 75L highlighted the recent crisis in Charlottesville in their remarks to all new students in our auditorium, noting that the rule of law, and the social contract to accept and abide by the rule of law, is what stands between the peace-loving majority and the few who would violently impose their points of view. As each of them said, the “rule of law” is much more than just words, and the people who bring law to life are lawyers. An international student who has studied law in his home country told me later that he knew at that moment why he wants an American law degree and what he wants to do with it.
So all of us in legal education must recommit ourselves to helping our students become the very best, the most enlightened, the bravest lawyers they can be, in defense of the rule of law. We can’t be distracted. We must help them keep their eyes on the prize.
This post is meant for those of you who will graduate in the coming academic year (2017-18) and plan to take a bar exam. Many, but not all, of you are 2Ls going into your 3L year; some of you are LLM students.
As I wrote this last week, most of your friends and colleagues in the Class of 2017 were just finishing up their bar exams, finding out whether they were as ready as they had hoped and planned and worked to be. Sooner than you think, that will be you! Now is a great time for you to start thinking ahead to what you can do over the coming academic year to maximize your probability of success when you take a bar exam for the first time.
The book I highly recommend you buy and start reading NOW for overall bar readiness is “Pass The Bar!” by Denise Riebe and Michael Hunter Schwartz. One of its first chapters is a set of “Action Plan Checklists” that begin 6-12 months before your post-graduation commercial bar review course starts. That window of time is now. Since many of you will file “character and fitness” applications to bar authorities this fall (they are due by early December in Georgia for those who will take the Georgia bar in July 2018), this is a great time to start getting familiar with the requirements for the jurisdiction where you will take the bar. More than half of all states now administer the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE), but each state still has its own requirements and deadlines. Save yourself some stress and start getting to know them now. You may need to gather your own records to answer the detailed character and fitness questionnaires, so getting an early start on that is also helpful.
We will be doing a series of programs to support and inform you all year as you get closer to the bar exam. The first is usually the annual September visit of the Director of Bar Admissions for Georgia, who will explain the character and fitness process and answer questions in person. In the meantime, I hope you will read through the information here: http://law.emory.edu/academics/academic-engagement/index.html (scroll down to see Bar Readiness).
Enjoy the rest of your summer! We look forward to seeing you back here later this month.