The Final Semester of Law School: A Rugged Terrain Of Uncertainty



ait — what? You mean, law school ends? In a couple of months??? No, I’m not ready for the bar exam. And I don’t even have a job lined up yet. OMG!!!


Spring is in the air, and for the vast majority of third-year law students, the thought process looks something like this. As our final semester edges toward completion, we helplessly listen on as an uneasy “tick-tock” begins to echo around us, making our minds race and our skin crawl.
Between now and July, each one of us must:

(1) finish our spring semester classes, including final exams;
(2) complete the bar exam application;
(3) study for the bar exam;
(4) take the bar exam;
(5) pass the bar exam; and
(6) find a job.
That last one bears repeating: find a job! More on that later.

Denver and DU Law
I am a third-year student at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. I came to Denver for law school, but you could probably also say I came to law school for Denver. Knowing most law students end up practicing in the same locale as their law school, DU Law became an easy choice. Both the city of Denver and DU Law have given me so much in three short years. My wife and I have gained tremendous friends, welcomed a baby girl to our family, and began our journeys as professionals in this city — me as a would-be attorney, and my wife as an interior architect.
I am originally from Portland, Oregon, graduated from Syracuse University in 2010, and spent five years before law school working in college football as a coach and administrator. College football is a performance-based industry. Collectively, if your team doesn’t win, you get fired, and, individually, if your players don’t produce — you guessed it — you get fired. In my previous career, volatility was an absolute certainty. Let me just say, I couldn’t be more excited to begin my (comparatively) stable career as an attorney in Denver. I am so happy to have already laid my family’s roots in this incredible city. I fully understand there will be high expectations no matter where I end up working, but my previous professional experiences have surely prepared me for the pressures of managing high-level work from demanding clients.
In addition, DU Law has prepared me for life beyond the walls of the law school. The Office of Career Development & Opportunities has connected me to numerous attorneys and provided guidance to understanding Denver’s legal market. The Corporate & Commercial Law Program has provided me training and experiences that will serve me well in my career as a corporate attorney. From drafting subscription agreements and due diligence memos to meeting clients and drafting their LLC operating agreements, I feel prepared to tackle the challenges of corporate law.
Law school has the potential to breed an environment of uncompromising competition. From grades to job-hunting to even getting into upper-level courses, everything in law school is constructed to be a competition. I have been continually impressed with my colleagues’ cordiality and professional demeanor in the face of such competitive realities. In addition to the people I have encountered at DU Law, the general academic rigor I have experienced has been challenging, stimulating, and maybe even a bit of fun. The balance between larger, doctrinal survey courses and topic-specific seminars has been the perfect preparation for what lies ahead, which brings me to . . .

The Bar Exam
Oh, the bar exam. The legal world’s version of a rite of passage. We all have to do it. Conquering the bar exam will undoubtedly take every bit of energy, focus, and academic acumen I can muster. A massive mix of legal concepts, some learned, some forgotten, and some that might as well be in Greek. It’s like the academic equivalent of a marathon followed by a biathlon with a Tough Mudder in between.
Intimidating? Yes. Painful? From what I hear. Doable? Well, actually yes. I have the utmost respect for the bar exam and the demands that lie ahead, but I am momentarily put at ease when I peruse law firm and company websites. Each and every attorney practicing in this city has passed the bar exam. No matter the law school attended, no matter his or her class ranking, no matter anything! They all passed. Attempting to contextualize the bar exam is a tool I am using daily to reduce stress levels and stay focused on my main goal, the ultimate reason I came to law school . . .

As my law school experience winds to a close, I feel a tad empty. Like that feeling when you don’t have your phone or keys, and you can physically feel something is missing. I can’t quite place it — oh yes, that’s it. I don’t have a job lined up yet. As I take a moment to think this through, an indescribable concoction of anxiety, excitement and confidence pulses through me.
The anxiety hits first — At this rate, every day closer to graduation is one day closer to unemployment.
Then comes the excitement — I know in my heart I’ll land on my feet, and I cannot wait to find out where that is and what I’ll be doing in a few short months.
Finally, a quiet confidence takes hold — I’m so proud of everything I’ve accomplished in law school, and I truly believe someone needs my help.

In the end, finding a job is about luck and timing, both of which I can’t control. But what I can control is my demeanor while networking and seeking opportunity. By being perseverant, creative and impervious to rejection, I can continue to put myself in as many positive situations as possible. I’ve discovered it takes equal parts insatiability and tact to find such inroads. Speaking of which, if you know a firm or company looking for a new corporate attorney, I think I know someone you should take a look at. D

Kevin Tibolt is a third-year student at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. He is pursuing a career as a corporate and transactional attorney in Denver. Kevin’s perfect day would start at the Denver Zoo, include a brewery pit stop, and end somewhere on the Eater 38. Kevin can be reached at ktibolt18@law.du.edu.