Eastern Oregon native Justin W. Nelson will tell you, readying for and taking the Oregon bar exam is a unique experience.
"Many people say that studying for the bar is like studying for law school finals for two months," Nelson said. "After over a month of studying, I completely agree with this statement."
Nelson recently took the bar exam after graduating cum laude from Willamette University College of Law. Born and raised on a wheat farm in Lexington, the son of Chuck and Lisa Nelson graduated from Heppner High School in 2000 and then went on to Willamette.
Nelson said he's grown to appreciate summers in Eastern Oregon. After the exam, he hit the road to get back home to help his father with the Ione "Blues Cruise" Fourth of July celebration.
Nelson said about 75 percent of potential attorney's who take the bar pass, and those who fail can take it again, as many times as needed, but the passage rate for retakes is far lower then first time takers.
"I also believe many individuals would be surprised to learn that many competent attorneys failed the bar exam the first time they took it," Nelson said.
Nelson began studying for the bar exam since May 21. Generally he would arrive at school at 7 a.m. and for two hours practice multiple choice questions and work on or review outlines. Then from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. he usually had his bar preparation course, which costs around $2,000 and provides both live and taped lectures to teach students the subjects tested on the bar exam.
After a break to hit the school gym, Nelson returned to the books for another eight hours from the afternoon to night. And the studying didn't let up on the weekends, where he usually arrived to school around 9 a.m. and left around 10 p.m.
The two-day exam is extensive and comprehensive. On day one, exam takers face nine essay questions and one Multistate Performance Test question. Day two is the Multistate Bar Examination, with 200 multiple-choice questions.
"As you can see from the schedule, the bar exam limits your social life," Nelson said.
Still he was lucky enough to go out a few times. He watched Oregon State University play Michigan in the super regional in Corvallis. And he traveled to Portland with his wife for a dinner and then saw the Body Worlds 3 exhibit at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.
Nelson said he's missed spending time with his wife and friends and wants to have a few barbecues, go fishing, camp up at Penland Lake, golf and just be "able to do the small things like lay in a hammock and take a nap."
But he's also ready to enter his profession.
"I am also looking forward to finally being able to practice law," Nelson said. "After three years of classes and two summer internships, I am happy to finally be able to practice as a full time attorney."