July 2012 California Bar Exam – Day Three!

Hello bar takers!

Congratulations for nearing the finish line. Right now you are probably writing essay 4 – I can’t wait to hear what it is. I know many of you will write to me on the break (thank you in advance for doing that). I am so curious to know the essay topics!

In the meantime – while I sit here waiting to hear from you – I want to share something with you that you probably do not know about the bar exam guru. First of all, I want you to know that my Mom put me up to this – she is a very persistent woman (she would have made a great lawyer – when she makes a case for something it is pretty much impossible to say no to her) 🙂

So here goes . . .

A few years ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was devastating for me and my family. The cancer was aggressive and thus required aggressive treatment – chemo, surgeries, radiation  (yep – the bar exam guru was once bald – see below for a picture of me back then).

It was by far the hardest fight of my life. I am happy to say that I am now cancer free. I am back to work – 14 and 15 hour days, thank you very much – I am healthy and I am strong. On the two year anniversary of my diagnosis I completed a half marathon (wearing a shirt with a sign on my back stating: “Leaving Cancer Behind” and a large arrow pointing down to my  behind (I have to have a sense of humor about all of this – otherwise I would have just given up).

When I was studying for the bar exam, my Aunt died of breast cancer. So the concept of cancer taking my life was very real to me. She passed away a few weeks before the exam. I didn’t want to take the exam. But, my family encouraged me to take it saying: “it would be what your Aunt would want you to do, take it in her honor

So, I took the bar, and in spite of everything that happened (and didn’t happen) leading up to the exam, I was lucky enough to pass it. And then shortly after, I was lucky enough to be offered a job at a law school – doing THE thing I wanted to do the most – teach.

The short version of this story is that after teaching for a few years and also doing bar review on my own time, at no charge to our students, I decided that I was onto something and that I wanted to focus on teaching bar students – so I quit my comfortable job with great benefits and started Bar None Review.

I have worked with hundreds of students over the years. It has been very satisfying work.

I fought very hard to be here today. My family and friends fought hard too. Fighting cancer is not only draining physically and emotionally, it is extremely expensive. I had excellent health insurance (albeit very expensive as a self employed person), and yet there is so much they did not pay for. In fact, I have postponed a reconstructive surgery because the co-pay is three thousand dollars and I am still dealing with unpaid medical bills from the portions that insurance just simply did not cover. And while I am back to work full time  – and have been for some time now (and so, so incredibly grateful to be well) the financial fallout from a cancer diagnosis and a nearly two year battle is long lasting.

One of the most satisfying things for me is to help others. It is why I write this blog. I know there are so many missing gaps with bar prep courses and so I write here to try to help fill in some of those gaps and to provide you with some free advice and support. I am humbled by the following here and by all of your  emails, praise and thanks. I am truly grateful and I am SO grateful to be here, to be able to help.

I am not someone who is comfortable asking for help. But, if you have found my blog to be helpful to you and you are able to help me by making a donation of any size, I will be grateful. It will help me deal with the financial fallout that still affects my life today. Again, I am so humbled by your emails and following and I am so glad to be of help.

Here is my P.O. Box if you would like to make a contribution: Lisa Duncanson, PO Box 853, Huntington Beach, Ca 92648 or via Paypal by sending it to: pass@barnonereview.com (thank you to an examinee who suggested I make it possible to make a donation through Paypal)  as he put it: “People are not likely to use the mail . . . set up a Paypal account . . . ”

I don’t know how to set up a direct link from here to Paypal, but, my Paypal account is linked to my email (above). Anything is appreciated. Thank you for the support.

I am anxiously waiting to hear from you about today’s essays – I will post again as soon as I hear what was on this morning’s test.

Wishing you all the very best!

And now for some bald photos! (Okay, maybe just one bald photo) 🙂

Hang tough this afternoon!

This is me (a couple of weeks ago) with my niece – I fought hard so she wouldn’t lose her aunt to breast cancer.

This was three years ago. During chemo you don’t always feel like eating, but, on this day I did . . . so glad those days are over – this isn’t easy for me to share, but, perhaps when you are taking the PT this afternoon you might find it a little easier being reminded that things could be a little worse 🙂