Movie Review: "A Lawyer Walks Into a Bar..."

By Neetal Parekh on October 21, 2009 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Together we have shared a heartfelt letter, a list or two, some unsolicited advice, and even a few beatbox-able lyrics...well, it was only a matter of time until there was a movie review.   And luckily, the first one is a unanimous "two gavels up" from the FindLaw Jury (consisting of the author...and two gavels).

The independent film, "A Lawyer Walks Into a Bar..." was released in 2007 and is now out on dvd.  It is a documentary that follows the exploits of six California Bar exam hopefuls as they prepare for, take, and check their results for the July 2006 Bar Exam.  The film is peppered with frank and sometimes-humorous commentary from big names in the legal and pubic mainstream, including Alan Dershowitz, Robert Shapiro, Joe Jamail, and Nancy Grace to name a few. 

For those JD's and attorneys who have ever had difficulty explaining the gravity and borderline-desperation associated with the Bar exam to their non-law counterparts, this film can help build that bridge.  Granted, it traces a focused cross-section of exam takers (all from Southern-California and multiple Loyola Law School graduates) studying for one state's bar exam (that is the 3-day, then-fourteen subject exam, with the country's lowest pass rate), which may make it a asymmetrical representation of the exam-taking affair.  However, there is a universality of experience that past takers will relate to.

Additionally, weaved in with quirky asides, practice Bar exam questions, and legal factoids, the film paints the individual stories of the exam takers.  Each has a unique reality and drive for passing the exam.  The connections between audience and test taker solidify throughout the film, such that by the end you may find yourself inching towards the edge of your sofa as you watch the takers check their results.

For anyone who has ever wanted anything so much that it not achieving it becomes nearly inconceivable, this film will recall that consuming, slightly-desperate, vulnerable feeling of dogged pursuit and steadfast belief.  And then, walking out of the film will remind you that in the end, whatever the outcome, you are only defined by what you choose to define you.

So whatever side of the law you stand on, pop up some Orville Redenbacher's, kick up your heels, and get ready to prep for the California Bar Exam, times six.

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