A Non-Event of the Lawyering Variety
Yesterday marked the passage of April 5, 2009. For those who have visited my humble Santa Cruz apartment, you may remember the letter from the California Bar Association posted on my refrigerator declaring my moral fitness to serve as a lawyer in the State of California… a certification that expired yesterday.
What that means is if I wanted to become bar certified today, I would have to re-initiate the moral fitness evaluation all over again. Rest assured, I did not come to this decision lightly. The choice to not walk the path of a professional lawyer was made a long time ago… but there has always been the option to do something on the side, or as a fall back plan. The trouble with the plan was cost. Joining the bar is expensive, as are annually renewals and tri-annual Continuing Learning Education obligations. I just do not have that kind of money of to throw after a something that might be useful someday.
The passing of April 5 doesn’t close the door on being a lawyer entirely. My bar exam passage is still good for another two years or so, which means joining the bar is still quite easy. But once the bar exam laps, I’ll be on the wrong side of a Kaplan Bar Review Course. My personal feeling is that’s for the best. If I decide to become a lawyer in seven years, it will have been a full 10 years since I last opened a casebook. I would owe it to my future employers — to say nothing of myself — to retake the bar and demonstrate I still got it. I know many of my colleagues would disagree, arguing the bar doesn’t test real legal skill and is best to be avoided at all cost, but I think there is value in going through the process to ramp up to a real law job.
Honestly, though, it’s almost an entirely academic conversation. I don’t expect to ever hold a job where being bar certified matters. The JD is enough for my long term goals, and for all I know, I may stay with technology for years to come.