David Holt Passes CA Bar Exam

It’s official! I passed the California lawyers BAR exam! But, this is not a normal “I passed the bar!” post. With modern social media it’s easy to just share the wins, but let me pull back the curtain and share how I got here…

Let’s start with “why take another bar exam?” Well California does not have reciprocity for lawyers regardless of their experience which means everyone sits for the BAR exam. California’s BAR exam is largely considered the toughest in the US. I am not a fast reader or writer, especially under pressure.  I actually had registered to take the exam last summer, but had to push back the exam to the winter due to the inability to balance the studying with my current fathering, lawyering and wellness. I studied for 3.5 months straight on a part time basis of doing 2-4 hours of studying/writing/flash cards per day. It was miserable. I was not present with my son, I largely ignored friends, family and any social events and certainly let my fitness slide. My skin broke out in hives for only the second time in my life (the first being when I took the Minnesota BAR exam 10 years ago.) The only things that kept me together were consistent hot yoga and DoorDash.

I chose California largely to escape the harsh Minnesota winters which definitely have a negative impact on my health. My parents started “snow-birding” in the Palm Springs area of California about 10 years ago and I love the area. What’s exciting is that I still have plenty of California to explore.

On the tail end of COVID I separated from my son’s mother after 6 years together. We were never formally married but I just say divorce because it was basically the same. Back up to the beginning of COVID, and as a family of three we had sold our starter home in Minnesota and packed our essential belongings into a trailer. We hopped around in California living in short term rentals. Part of our plan was to buy a house there and we even put an offer on a house (which was beat by an offer that was $100,000 over asking because it’s California after all.) I learned two big things from that separation, (1) I needed some personal refocus and reflection and (2) I loved being somewhere warm for the entire winter. 

That personal reflection was sped up when I almost (accidentally) electrocuted myself to death. I had cut through a live wire when replacing a light fixture and the electrical current actually melted the metal pliers. I was especially ashamed that my son was in the other room and would have discovered me dead or injured had something happened. I haven’t shared this publicly before largely because I was so embarrassed and ashamed. But I think it’s a key component in my refocusing.

With a renewed view on life, I went inward and tapped into a deep vision of what I wanted both personally and professionally. I wrote it down. I reworked components of my life from top to bottom with the help of many friends, mentors, coaches and professionals. Here we are about 18 months into that journey. It’s amazing how comfortable and complacent I got in life and how years just seemed to fly by without much intention, presence or vision. If you’re reading this I hope you can get that *spark* in a much safer way than a near death experience and I am here to cheer you on if you go down that new path!

P.S. I now use an electrician for all electrical projects.

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