I had a decision to make: Do I return for the second day of the Bar exam?
For most, it was an easy decision. Of course you do. Perhaps the guy across the table from you was a loud typer or maybe there was someone near you whose occasional groaning really got inside your head. But you’re tough. You blocked it out, you got through day one — of course you’re coming back for day two. You’re looking at second-and-goal from the one-yard line. It’s time to punch it in for six points, not take a knee.
But I skipped day two. And it was an easy decision for me.
My wife was seven months pregnant when I left the house for day one of the Bar exam back on July 28, 2009. Locked in the isolation of the Baltimore Convention Center, I didn’t know that throughout the day she was getting sicker and sicker. When I left the house that morning, I didn’t know that within 12 hours she’d be in the emergency room. I certainly didn’t expect to hear her doctor tell me, “This is life-threatening, you need to be here” that night. But that’s what happened.
So I stayed with her at the hospital. The staff eventually got my wife’s preeclampsia under control for a while, but she had to undergo an emergency c-section that Friday. That’s when I became a father of a 2-lb., 11-oz. boy who was tiny but healthy. I started a judicial clerkship a month later, passed the Bar exam when I re-took it in February 2010 and was sworn in four months later. I was hired by the Law Offices of Peter G. Angelos on the day before my clerkship ended in September 2010. I’ve been here ever since.
I’ve wanted to be a trial lawyer for as long as I can remember and I can finally claim to be one. Still, I occasionally reflect upon just how close my legal career came to crashing on takeoff. I was almost 31 when I took the bar for the second time, with a wife and son at home and another son on the way. If I hadn’t passed the exam that time, I most likely would have needed to find something else to do in order to support my family, at least temporarily. Often, though, such temporary arrangements become permanent. I’m thankful that I didn’t have to travel that road.
It is easy, especially in our profession, to focus on the negative and take everything else for granted. I’m as prone to that as the next guy. I find that the best way to break out of that mindset is to remember some of the things for which I should be thankful and grateful.
I’m grateful to the doctors and nurses who saved my wife and son; to our families for helping us through it; and to the law firm where I clerked during law school, McCarthy Wilson LLP, and my boss there, André Forté, for their support when I needed it. I’m grateful to Judge Stuart R. Berger, for whom I clerked, for ensuring that I had all the time I needed to prepare for the Bar exam, and to Shemer Bar Review for making that preparation as easy as possible. And I’m grateful to God for the answered prayers.
I am now a 35-year-old husband and father of three who has the privilege of representing injury victims and of dropping off at kindergarten every morning the boy who weighed less than three pounds when he was born. On the evening of July 28, 2009, none of that seemed likely to happen. Thinking about all I went through to get here makes the hardest days in this profession seem a little bit easier.