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A friend of a friend just failed the bar ... again. This concerned friend asked: what do you say to this person?
Nothing. If anything, offer a brief "if you need anything, let me know" condolence. Otherwise, they've got a lot of thinking and eventually studying to do, and nothing you can say will help.
In fact, we can think of way more things that you really shouldn't say, even if your heart is in the right place.
1. You're Fired
Okay, you might not have a choice here. If resources are limited, and you hired someone to be an associate, he isn't going to be much help if he is studying for the next six months. Fire away, if you must -- but have a talk about the options first.
2. You'll Pass Next Time
This isn't exactly the worst thing you can possibly say. In fact, most people won't be bothered by it at all. But, it is quite possible that this person will fail -- after all, they already did. One brilliant rant explains perfectly why telling someone that they will pass can really begin to grate their nerves. Here our favorite part:
When I say to you, "I am going to fail the bar," I don't mean it the way a nerdy college sophomore proclaims "omg! I am totally going to fail this chem exam." I don't mean that I might get a C, or I might not be the smartest kid in the room. I mean that, come November, I. Might. Fail. The. Bar. In fact, there's a 50% likelihood that I will. When I tell you that I think I am going to fail, I'm not saying it because I need affirmation that I won't. I'm not kidding. I'm not over-reacting. When I say that, I'm trying to warn you of what might come.
Neurotic? A bit, but we all are during bar exam time -- first timers or repeaters.
3. Have You Thought About [Alternative Career]?
Yes, we know, there are at least 101 other things a bar repeater can do with their life, besides torture himself with tests that will what -- get him a bar card and no job whatsoever? But suggesting to this person that teaching, becoming a professor, turning into a pop star, or doing anything else, is telling them that they can't pass the bar, which is even worse then telling them that they can.
4. Maybe You Should Try [Study Technique] More
Unless you are a bar review lecturer or a respected professor, don't try Monday Morning Quarterbacking. If this poor soul failed the test, she probably knows that she needs to work on her essays, or he needs to do more MBE prep questions. Leave the study tips to the pros.
5. We Need to Talk About [Serious Issue]
Really? Is it really that serious? What in the hell is serious enough to interrupt study time? Relationship questions, financial issues, or anything short of death and dismemberment needs to be tabled until after this person takes the bar exam (again).
So Basically, Stay Away?
Exactly. Express your support (briefly). If you're feeling really generous, provide food, water, and coffee. But otherwise, unless your bar taker initiates a conversation, let her be -- she's got a lot of work to do.