• Flunking the Bar Exam-By Edward Maroncha

    So those of you who have friends in the ATP class of 2015 in their social media timelines are well aware that the Bar Exam results were released last Thursday. I was waiting for those results with some level of arrogance. I was confident I would ace them. After all, I had out-foxed those professors at the University of Nairobi School of Law who had a reputation of deriving pleasure from failing comrades. How worse could the Council of Legal Education (CLE) be?

    At the University, I had aced the Sale of Goods unit by Prof. O.K. Mutungi and Legal Systems and Methods by Dr. David Gachuki. I had been forewarned that these two elderly gentlemen had an obsession with the letter E. The other gentleman was Dr. Jacob Gakeri who took us through Company Law. Now the story with this one was rather interesting. In the CAT he had awarded me 9/30. This loosely translated to me needing a major miracle at the final exam because he was also known to be in extremely cordial relations with the fifth letter of the alphabet. Now, this guy usually gave bulky exams. The exam I sat for was so bulky that I only managed to attempt two questions out of the required three. I knew my goose was cooked. Roasted actually. To my utter surprise, when the results came out I had survived. However, I will be quick to admit that I came out of that one smelling of smoke and having soot all over me. Nonetheless it gave me the confidence to face the last of them, Prof. F.D.P Situma. I easily passed Public International Law. This gave me the cockiness to dare the old man for a re-match by doing the Law of the Sea, an optional unit, which I again easily passed.

    It was this arrogance that I still had as I waited for the bar exam results. Finally, someone mentioned that CLE had posted the results on their Facebook page. I logged on Facebook and searched their page. Sure enough, the link with the bar exam results was there. So I clicked to confirm the obvious. I scrolled down until I saw my registration number. Then I followed horizontally as my results unfolded: P P P P P P P F F. I blinked twice. My eyes have a way of seeing mirages. I looked again. P P P P P P P F F. I was sure I had not looked properly so I looked for a ruler. I placed it firmly beneath my registration number on the computer screen and looked again: P P P P P P P F F.  Ah! I knew what the problem was. These viruses have a thing for pdf documents, no? I stood and went to my colleague’s desk (I was alone in the office, people had left for Easter). I logged on her computer and checked: P P P P P P P F F. It was true. 7P instead of 9P. I had failed not one, but two units.

    The computer screen started turning yellow, orange and some other weird colours. The office itself was turning a shade of grey. There was a dull emptiness in my stomach. What had just happened? Then a thought crossed my mind. What were those two units I had failed? Maybe they were those I was absolutely sure I couldn’t fail: Civil Litigation, Criminal Litigation, Legal Writing and Trial Advocacy. I am not sure what I intended to do if it turned out to be any two of those four. Maybe I would call a Press Conference. I could picture myself walking down the steps of our office building with a grim expression and with comrade Babu Owino in tow. We would then issue a warning to President Kenyatta to the effect that we would lead all the comrades to Cord en masse if I did not get favourable results within 24 hours. Of course State House would panic and Prof Kulundu Bitonye would get a menacing call and within hours I would get a 9P.

    Inspired, I checked to confirm what the two units were. ATP 107: Conveyancing. ATP 108: Commercial Transactions. I knew they had me cornered. These two were my soft underbelly and I suspected the Fs could be legit. Then came the frustration. Why hadn’t I done more to beef up my weak links? What if I had revised more vigorously? What if, what if what if…

    This was quickly replaced by pragmatism. It could have been worse. What I had in mind was a sneaky unit called Legal Practice Management. This unit has three parts. In the first part you are basically told that offices should have water dispensers and that secretaries should not wear too much lipstick in case it stains the office phone receiver. The second part you are told that people should be called for interviews in order to be hired and given dismissal letters if they don’t turn up to work. I didn’t have much problems with these two because my mum has been teaching something similar to secretaries and office admins since I was in Std. 1. The books have always been readily available in the house so I knew most of this stuff by heart. It is the third part that initially gave me creeps: accounts. I have an allergy for Mathematics. But then I found an accounts text book authored by one of the KSL lecturers and discovered that most of it was stuff I did in High School. Anybody I was in High School with will tell you I was the Business Studies guru. So I generally relaxed because I knew I only needed to touch the text book and all of it would come flooding back. In fact, during accounts classes, I was busy doing Estate Accounts in Probate and Administration because I thought they were more menacing.

    Come the exam day. I was doing the exam at CUEA. A bunch of my friends and I would turn up at the cafeteria in the morning to polish up before the paper. That morning I saw one of my classmates looking at some weird looking accounts I had never seen before.

    “What are those you are revising?” I asked

    “Client accounts, why?” She replied without looking up.

    “What are client accounts?” I asked, feeling a sense of panic growing inside of me.

    She looked at me in a manner that left no doubt that she was in no mood of entertaining idiots at that hour. I knew my friend and seatmate at KSL was the only one who could rescue me. She is a genius and the most organized person I know. So I called but she did not pick. Now my world was collapsing. Eventually she came, but 5 minutes to the exam.

    “How can you come 5 minutes to time?” I asked.

    “What are you talking about?”

    “I’ve called you like a dozen times. I need you to show me how to work those animals called client accounts”.

    She gave me that look she puts on when I am behaving like a dunderhead. Then she looked at her watch.

    “My friend, sa hii kama hujui hujui

    And with that we strolled to the exam room. That exam is divided into the three parts I mentioned earlier. You answer one question from each part and a fourth question from any of the three. My Pastor says that God does rescue us from our foolishness. That day in the accounts section there was just one general accounts question-the only one I could answer. I have never thanked Jehovah more.

    Anyway I soon convinced myself that 7P wasn’t that bad. After all, there are usually re-sits in July and if I stop goofing around and sit down to work, I will pass them and graduate with the rest of the class in October. Of course by now my arrogance has been cut to size and I no longer imagine that the world can’t rotate without me.

    To my colleagues who managed the 9P I say congrats! You guys deserved it. To those who are sure CLE doctored their results and are seeking a remark I say all the best. If you feel like you passed first round it’s probably because you actually did. And to those who like me are spoiling for another fight with CLE, either because they don’t have cash for a remark or because they feel intelligent enough to win the second round I say Aluta Continua! We will take the battle to them in the second leg. It’s not like CLE is Barcelona. Cheer up! It’s never that serious. At least I don’t think it is.

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