Today, the Colorado Supreme Court released its list of the names of people that passed the Colorado Bar Exam. The name, Cameron L. Atkinson, was not on it. In other words, I – Cameron L. Atkinson – failed the bar exam, and I am royally disappointed at how the Colorado Supreme Court could insult me so deeply. Insult, however, it did.
My morning started off routine enough. I ran an errand to contribute to spreading more coronavirus germs in the world, and then I went to work. My co-workers and I exchanged some jokes about the pending results when I got in, but I thought no more of it. I had bigger fish to fry – namely, briefing to the United States Supreme Court.
Mid-morning, I found time to check the Colorado Supreme Court website to see if the results for the July 2020 bar exam were uploaded. They were, and I opened it, half-distracted by some of the finer points of First Amendment law. Lo and behold, my name was not on the list.
I shrugged and texted my parents, my colleagues, and my best friend a brief note telling that I did not pass. I stifled my rapidly boiling rage, and I went back to researching and writing about how judges makes things up to fit their agendas. Planning action in the aftermath would come in due course.
Work calls, a mini-crisis, and some briefing later, I received an email from the Colorado Bar Examining Committee that instructed me to go to my application account to see the details of my score. Like any obedient supplicant at the altar of faux judicial dignity, I dropped what I was doing and got me to my application dashboard.
I scored a 272 on Colorado’s July 2020 administration of the Uniform Bar Examination, falling four points short of the 276 required to pass the bar exam in Colorado. Those four points separated me from literally 499 other people who took the same exam and were deemed to have passed because four points somehow determines that I am a danger to the public by virtue of my complete incompetence.
Colorado can take its list and punt it off the Rocky Mountains. Connecticut accepts Uniform Bar Examination scores for purposes of admitting applicants in Connecticut. So do New York, Massachusetts, and Washington, D.C. They, however, only require a passing score of 266.
Consequently, Colorado, thank you for the delicious bison steak and the beautiful cakes that I saw while I was there. I don’t need to be on your list. I have passed the bar exam for all intents and purposes. I’ll get on with my life, and the public can suffer from my incompetence, which is so bad that, if four people in Washington, D.C. get struck by lightning, I will be taking my talents before the United States Supreme Court at the ancient age of 25.
As big of a mouth as I have and as much as I like to run it, I confide in few people. Prior to taking the Colorado bar exam and through today, I voiced concern to a few individuals that I did not think that I put in enough study to pass. I further indicated that, if presented with the same choices again, I would not hesitate to make the same choices.
The result was the biggest gamble that I have taken in my life with the stakes being my career. I only dedicated the two weeks prior to the exam to studying in a focused manner. Prior to those two weeks, I had spent about four hours a night for six to eight weeks intermittently studying for the exam while working full time during the day. In other words, I took with the bar exam with a recipe for disaster.
Or did I? I am a praying man who is also very calculating. As I entered those last two weeks prior to the bar exam, I recognized that I was entering the final round of a fight having lost every round to the bar exam. I either had to find a way to stop the bar exam in its tracks or I would fail it.
So I did the only three things that I know how to do. I prayed. I called my parents and asked them to pray. I studied my tail off.
Several days into those two weeks, I stopped studying using the commercial bar prep course, Kaplan, that I had bought. I was in trouble in the final round, and I knew it. As I was praying, I can only describe what happened as God’s faithfulness.
I could not get the number 118 out of my mind. Anyone who knows me well knows that I hate math and numbers and that I don’t think about them. Call me stupid. Call me superstitious, but I know when God speaks directly to me. 118 was the number of multiple choice questions that I needed to answer correctly to have a chance to pass the bar exam. The essay portion of the exam – the place where my natural writing talents would shine – would put me over the top.
Consequently, I ran a multiple choice simulation of the bar exam using the bar questions from Kaplan, which showed me exactly where I needed to focus studying to get my score to the 118 mark. I then found a little known outline from a program called Studicata that condensed concepts into very simple rule statements.
With less than two weeks to go, I committed to the strategy that I can only attribute to God’s faithfulness. I studied 20 hour days, cramming for the first time in my life. Thanks to the coronavirus, I had a whole row of my plane ride to Colorado to myself, and I studied as if I was still at home.
I took the exam. I did not pass it by Colorado’s standards, but I did what I set out to do. Save your congratulations.
Tonight, when my best friend and I took a ride to Cabela’s, I had him calculate the number of multiple choice questions that I answered correctly based on my score breakdown. It was exactly 118.
It’s over. I don’t need my name on some list for the world to see. I will be licensed to practice law in the states that I want to. I am ready for a lifetime of war now.