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  • D'Bria Bradshaw

What a Difference a Year Makes

The Bar

10.23. 2018 I found out I failed the New York Bar Exam. A month prior I was singing praises of all of my friends that had passed the Florida Bar Exam on their first attempt and encouraging those that did not to keep pursuing their dream of becoming an Esquire. In the months leading up to receiving results I was constantly asked that awful question that no bar exam taker wants to be asked over and over again "When do you find out?" Unlike states like Florida that give their exam takers an exact date on when they will receive their score, New York does not, they tell you that you'll receive your scores between the end of October and mid November. You sit and wait and wait but every time you get an email alert on your phone, your heart pounds and you wonder if this is it. That morning on October 23, 2018 I got the dreaded email that I did not pass the Bar Exam; some people will tell you they only failed by 1 or 2 points (for some that's true and for others that's their version of the truth), that was not my case. I never wanted to take the Bar Exam, I had a clear plan after law school I was going to work for a sports agency and move to New York. I only took the exam because that is something my parents wanted me to do and as time drew nearer to sign up for the test I figured why not achieve the ultimate goal of law students and become a licensed attorney. So I took the July 2018 exam and I failed.

Job Search

What most people don't know is that the job search isn't always easy (especially when they haven't had to apply to anything since the 90s) while waiting on results or even after passing, especially when you have a clear cut idea of what area you want to pursue a career in, mine has always been sports. For months after graduating I received the other dreaded question "Did you find a job yet?" the answer was always "No" for almost a year after I graduated. I felt ashamed and disappointed in myself because not only had I failed the bar I was unemployed as well. I've always been one of those people that had a plan mapped out for my life and being unemployed after graduating with a JD/MBA wasn't apart of it. I completed the internships, I volunteered at more events than I could remember, I took on countless leadership positions and I was still getting "Thank you for applying to our company"emails or no response at all to hundreds of job applications. I've never felt so low and useless and I know I was borderline depressed. The 2 great things about this time in my life is that my parents never gave up on me and I was going through the job hunting process with one of my closest friends.

Retake the Bar

Let's fast forward a little, my parents (my Dad forced me lol but my mom was fine with whatever decision I made) had me sign up for the February 2019 exam. I felt like my life was in limbo before I started studying again so I focused my energy on my Sorority and D.E.B.S. because those were the things that made me feel worthy and like I was impacting society in some way. New Years 2019 rolled around and I set goals for myself, I was going to pass the New York Law Exam, the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam, and of course the Bar (these are the 3 tests you have to pass to be sworn in as a NY attorney), along with other things like developing a healthy lifestyle, growing in my faith, being a better family member and friend and most importantly I was going to travel. Most people take what is known as a Bar trip after they are done with the exam, it is supposed to give the exam taker the opportunity to celebrate law school graduation and completing the Bar exam. I didn't want to celebrate anything until I knew I had passed the exam so instead of traveling and discovering new things I basically stayed at home wallowing in misery because I was unemployed and not one and done with the Bar Exam.

What happened next is not something anyone can plan for. A week after my first trip of the New Year to Atlanta for Super Bowl LIII, my grandfather passed away. Everyone knows of the strong bond that grandparents have with their grandchildren but ours was a little more than that, this was a person that took me to school and picked me up everyday from the time I was a baby until the 12th grade, someone I lived with my whole life up until I went away to college, someone who instilled values in me, a man that stepped up and was always there for me and my family. My life would forever be changed. Did I mention this was 2 weeks before I was supposed to head back to Buffalo, NY to take round 2 of Hell on Earth? So besides the worries of mental preparedness for a 2 day, 12 hour exam I felt lost and my heart was heavy. I went and took the exam because I knew that was what my grandfather would have wanted me to do. A lot of people were surprised I took the exam after something so tragic happening but I did what I needed to do.

Don't Worry, Be Happy

4. 22.19 SHOW ME THE MONEY!!! I got a job! I FINALLY started working as a Document Review lawyer.

4.23.19 I PASSED THE NEW YORK BAR EXAM! I knew it was nothing but God and my grandfather that guided me through that exam and this time around it wasn't for my parents I took the exam for me.This is important to me because so many people do things to make others happy but fail to realize what actually makes them happy.

07.19 I signed on as Director of Business & Legal Affairs for a start up sports media company.

10.23.19 I can say that I am happy with where I am in life because I am getting out of what Forever First Lady Michelle Obama calls the "Box Checker" phase and I am living and enjoying life without the burden of school, tests, or wondering what is next on my list to check off as accomplished. I am enjoying life not just because I passed the bar exam and I am finally employed but because I'm going through a lifestyle change since this is the REAL beginning of adulthood for me (no more school EVER lol) and D.E.B.S. is working with amazing partners and supporters, I'm living carefree the way every 27 year old without major responsibilities should.

I shared this part of my life because I want people to know that we can have a checklist for our life but it is better to live and let God guide you, He puts visions in our heads and dreams in our heart to pursue for a reason but there is no 1 path to get to where you are destined to be. People need to hear the stories of the Bar Exam retakers, the unemployed after grad/professional school, this is the part of life that no one will post about on social media and that schools don't prepare you for. Don't stop living because you had a set back, always DREAM BIG; a set back is a set up for a step up. Always remember Cant Stop, Won't Stop, the Marathon Continues!

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